Skin Bleaching Essay

The application of chemical substances to lighten the skin by reducing the amount of melanin in the skin is known as skin bleaching. People with lighter skin have become a global symbol of wealth, elegance, and social standing over time. Individuals with lighter skin have been glamorized as glamorous by the media, which has significantly contributed to this negative conduct. As a result, the media has induced in people with darker skin tones a psychological desire to lighten or whiten their skin. Furthermore, skin bleaching reflects psychological problems like self-perception and self-esteem. As a result, people with dark skin, especially women, are under pressure to lighten it in order to achieve “fair skin.” For this reason, the paper will discuss skin bleaching in Jamaica, Nigeria, India and its effects.
Historical; skin bleaching has reached pandemic proportions especially in Africa. In particular, European colonialists brought subjective interpretations of beauty and race that defined whites as pure, beautiful and superior. Conversely, they defined Africans as black, demonic and ugly savages who were inferior to the white race (Edmond, 7). Besides, they created a racial criterion that placed Africans at the bottom of the list based on their skin colour that according to them indicated their low intelligence and under-development. As a result, Africans wanted to become like their superior white colonisers.
Self-esteem vs. Self-hate: other people bleach because they have low self-esteem regarding their skin colour. The darker the person’s skin, the less self-esteem and the more self-hate for having such as skin. Thus, the individual tries to lighten the skin at all costs to feel good about him or herself. Besides, each society has its unique perception regarding beauty (De Souza, 4). However, the Western perceptions have overcome other societal perceptions by presenting the lighter-skinned individuals as more beautiful and attractive. For this reason, people with dark skin do not feel confident about their skin.
Skin Pigmentation Problems: some skin conditions such as Vitiligo cause uneven patches on the skin. In most cases, the patches appear lighter in skin tone that then person’s skin. Therefore, some people who have vitiligo prefer to bleach their skin to even their skin out.
International Bleaching
Jamaica in particular has experienced a rapid rise in the use of skin lightening products among their youth. This trend dates back to the effects of slavery that has left a permanent scar that the dark skinned people belong to a low class and are illiterate. According to De Souza (4), most Jamaicans bleach because they want to attract the opposite sex and feel confident about their looks. Some bleachers do so to get good career prospects as according to them, the lighter skinned people get better careers. In Jamaica, both men and women bleach almost for the same purpose; the women want to boost their esteem while the men their self-efficacy (Edmond, 8). Besides, mass media has popularized white skin as successful in that people with light skin have higher chances of acquiring wealth and becoming prosperous.
The World Health Organization (WHO) ranks Nigeria as having the highest skin bleaching rate in the world (about 77%). There is no effective regulation of lightening creams and it is quite common to see the bleaching creams packed in plastic bags, tubes, and cardboard boxes on the sidewalks of the market districts. According to Olumide (4), the media has played a crucial part in promoting light skin as the most desirable skin especially in Africa. Regarding this, most adverts whether TV or on billboard have light-skinned models who advertise different products (De Souza, 6). As a result, Nigeria has picked up the trend, with both celebrities and other Nigerians bleaching their skin. Nollywood-Nigeria’s film industry has encourages this dangerous trend by preferring to cast light-skinned actresses over the ones with dark skin.
Many Indians have developed an obsession with fair creams as a result of deeply entrenched in societal attitudes. According to Mishra (10), lighter models advertise almost all Indian and foreign products. Moreover, TV actors and actresses have increasingly promoted “fairness” products (Mishra, 6). As a result, the market for “fairness” products grows by about twenty percent every year. The main reasons for the growing bleaching trend arises from (1) colonial era when the Britons discriminated Indians for their dark skin, (2) the caste system that continuously promotes colorism because most of the upper caste have fairer skin than those in the lower caste; Indian associate pale or fair skin with power. Lack of representing dark-skinned models, brand ambassadors, actors and advocate has created a permanent image that the fairer a person looks, the more beautiful and wealth they appear (Mishra, 5).
Types of Bleaching Products
Whitening creams include Fair and Lovely, Fairever, meladerm, Skinbright, Revitol, Illuminatural 6i, obagu Nu-Derm Clear, Zenmed Skin Eraser, Rephase D-White, Olay White Radiance, Lotud Herbal Whiteglow, and L’Oreal Paris White Perfect Laser among others. Natural bleaching products include honey, lemon, orange peels, potato bleach, papaya juice, yoghurt, tumeric among others. Most of these natural products are blended to create the bleaching paste.
Most of the bleaching products contain toxic substances such as ydroquinone, kojic acid, and mercury that create hazardous health effects. Bleaching products that contain high amounts of these harmful substances may cause swelling of the limbs, irritability, and skin redness, collagen damage, skin thinning, extreme pain, acne, ochronisis, liver damage, weakens the user’s immune system and skin cancer. Besides, skin bleaching aggravates skin diseases such as eczema, acne and dermatitis.
Skin bleaching has increasingly become a health hazard pandemic especially in Asia and Africa. Self-esteem, mass media, and historical factors are key factors for skin bleaching in Asia and Africa. The lack of effective regulation has further promoted this unhealthy behaviour. The effects of bleaching include skin thinning, skin cancer, ochronisis, and liver failure among others. The affected countries should strive to change the perceptions regarding black skin to reduce the bleaching trend.
Works Cited
De Souza, Melanie. The Concept of Skin Bleaching in Africa and its Devastating Health Implications. Clinics in Dermatology, 2008.
Edmond, Jessica. The Promotion of Skin-Bleaching Products in Jamaica: Media Representation and Cultural Impact. Southern Illinois University Carbondale, 2014.
Mishra, Neha. India and Colorism: The Finer Nuances. Washington University Global Studies Law Review, 2015, 14(4).

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