The rise in the number of women who use illegal creams to lighten there skin is getting higher. The quest for ultimate beauty which is often manifested through the medias perception that to be lighter is to be more beautiful has now reached fever pitch. Take a look at your average music video and you will oftentimes struggle to find a women darker then a brown paper bag. Alot of the time the women who are using these dangerous products are seemingly ignorant to the effects that it has on there skin and I feel that it is as important to address the issues for health reasons as for the benefit of our communities due to this growing issue that divides them.
Being lighter oftentimes is deemed more approachable, and therefore more acceptable within society. It can often mean the chance between you being chosen for that job, or being chosen by a partner. This obviously is not always the case but alot of darker skinned women will tell you that they have experienced this prejudice time and again and how hurtful it has been to them as they have gone through life. And it should come as no surprise that this complex dates back to slavery. In the times when slavery was prevalent our community seperating the slaves based on the colour of their skin was rife, and thus it encouraged the breeding of superiority among the lighter skinned slaves and as a result inferiority among the darker skinned slaves. Unfortunately, this division still exists.
The pshycological reasons for darkskinned women using these products are undenieable. These are some of the names of bleaching products sold to women on the mass market: Fair & White, Fair & Flawless, Skin Success.
These are all designed to apparently make the user more “beautiful” and they all insinuate that to be darker is to be less so. Particularly for young women who are most susceptible to societys stringent ideas on beauty, this can be very misleading. And damaging. But why is nobody doing anything about it?
A few interesting points:
The melanin found in ethnic skin serves a purpose: It is there to protect against UV Rays which can lead to cancer so stripping the skin of it’s natural immunity is leaving you susceptible to developing this disease.
Steriods, which are found in many skin lightening products as they increase the effectiveness of the cream, can increase acne and pimples. Steriods also prevent the formation of skin cells which makes the skin layer thin and therefore it is more susceptible to bruising. Some womens skin after using these creams become so thin that they are almost transparent. And if that doesn’t scare you then maybe you should hear a list of the active ingredients that go into these creams and what they do to the body:
Hydoquinone is severely toxic. It is used in photo processing, the manufacture of rubber and is an active agent in hair dyes and therefore should definitely not be used on the skin. Hydroquinone thickens skin protein fibres, damaging the connective tissues. The result is a rough and spotty blotchy skin and it is not that effective as some parts of the body will not take to bleaching such as the temples, eyelids, lips and joints.
Immunity: Women who use skin bleaches regularly are more prone to infection like the flu etc as it breaks down there immunity after long periods of usage.
Mercury: contains ammoniated mercury or mercrous chloride as a bleaching agent which are toxic and can result in mercury poisoning.
Surely these effects explain why alot of these products are illegal and are therefore sold illegally under the counter.
Bleaching isn’t just restricted to Black women though. Alot of Asian women do it aswell. It is a multimillion dollar industry and these companys that make these products will stop at nothing to cash in on peoples insecurities no matter how damaging it is to there health.
Just as it is for the Black women and slavery the reasons for Asian women using these products date back to many years ago where they had a heirachy structure based on skin colour. For the women, the lighter you are apparently the more desireable you are, and therefore the more opportunitys you get including marraige and career success. Wealthy Asian women often have servants in there households and they are always of a darker skin hue to there employer.
An important thing to remember is that bleaching makes the ageing process quicker! The beauty of melanin is that it keeps the skin healthy and it constantly renews itself so that it is less susceptible to the signs of ageing such as wrinkles.
I see these women who bleach on the bus and they look grim beyond repair. They remind me a little of a bumblebee as they have a yellow pasty skin tone that looks borderline death, combined with dry unwanted patches of darker skin or they look as if they’ve been scrubbed to within a inch of their lives and have an angry red looking pallor. There skin looks as if they’ve had acid thrown over them – not a good look!
Sometimes they try to convince themselves that they are bleaching to get rid of dark patches of skin (or combination skin), but what they haven’t taken into consideration in there choice of a remedy is that they aren’t going to be able to completely eradicate that condition, the only thing bleaching will do infact is to highlight there condition as there skin turns a greyish yellow pallor, the darker patches remain darker, and their acne or spots are red raw. Attractive? I think not.
I don’t know whose telling these women that they look good, but it sometimes begs belief that these women are looking in the mirror and saying to themselves: Oooh yes, I definitely look better now then I did before I bleached up my skin!
It is supposed to look NATURAL and yet it is abundantly obvious when someone has been using bleach. I wish women would love themselves and each other equally, indeed I wish that men would love women equally and not on the basis on there skin tones. Maybe someday, I certainly hope that someday, history will cease to repeat itself.