Wednesday, November 14

Skin Lightening – an ongoing and international issue that just won’t go away

I can’t believe that it is the year 2012 and we are STILL talking about skin lightening. I always think that we have come so far and are living in a world where people have come to realize that no skin colour is better than any other. And then, I come across a story like this – it seems that in Senegal they are selling low-grade skin lighteners that are banned in other countries, without a worry about the many dangers and side effects.

Although this article is about Senegal, skin lightening is an issue all over the world including the Middle East, Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean.

It is sad that people have such low self-esteem and devalue their own looks so much that they are willing not only to spend time and money to change their skin colour but that they are even willing to endure pain – whether it is risking chemical burns while bleaching their skin or sunburns while tanning it. And unfortunately, the problem is not an individual issue but a symptom of our societal issues around race and beauty.

Perhaps the most disheartening thing of all is that the article ends with a sentence that only serves to reinforce the racially prejudiced thinking that causes people to try and lighten their skin. The article quotes a dermatologist, the expert opinion in the piece, as saying "When women who use these creams stop, they look horrible. They actually start looking more black, all the side effects manifest at the same time, which they just can't accept."

It seems even in 2012 (and even in an article discussing the dangers of skin lightening) black is still interchangeable with horrible.

Check out the story here and let me know what you think in the comments.


Anonymous said...

This is such a huge problem in Africa that it's beyond reason, I know many women that for years have been doing this. These are Indian, Middle Eastern and African women not just one race in particular. What leads to this how these societies are so obsessed with being light skinned they see as a privilege to be light skinned.It saddens me that as black women is't hard enough, we have this as well to haunt us and create inner hatred as well as feed negativity and insecurity to our children.

Anonymous said...

This issue saddens me that my "people of colour" sees the need to lighten their skin with dangerous chemical while white and light skinned people "bake" themselves on a tanning bed. When are we going to be happy with the way we are born?