Growing up you would hear remarks like, “you’re pretty for a dark skinned girl,” or get questions thrown like, “what are you mixed with?” Implying that you would have to be mixed with a different race other than black to be beautiful. You would hear racial slurs and degrading comments because of the color of your skin.
You would watch cartoons on the Disney channel and see most of the princesses present with fair skin, long silky hair and an hour glass figure. This is where the self-hate begins to germinate. The self-loathing attributed to the color of one’s skin. Being dark you were made to feel inferior, dirty and not accepted by the beauty standards of the world. The fairer the skin, the better your chances of making it. That’s what they said to you.
Some people believe fairer/ lighter skinned people especially females are more acceptable to the society. Now with the help of social media this perception seems to be magnified and as a result some people have resorted to bleaching their skin.
Bleaching is the act of using substances, products, mixtures or treatments to lighten one’s skin tone. This is designed to slow the production of melanin. These can range from creams, soaps, injections and pills. Professional treatments like chemical peels and laser therapy are also available. Historically skin bleaching started in the Victorian era when women painted their faces with lead paint.
In today’s evolved modernity you could easily buy refined products in shops, online sites, markets that have no regards to the age of a customer. Skin lightening creams are dangerous yet the bleaching industry is booming. In 2017, the global skin lightening industry was worth $4.8bn and is projected to grow to $8.9bn by 2027.
It’s alarming to see these figures when the side effects are life threatening. Some of the potential risks are:
1. Premature aging of skin
2. Skin cancer from sun exposure
3. Skin infections
4. Skin thinning
5. Acne and poor wound healing.
There are safer/ natural ways to bleach the skin if one desires to do so. It may be because of moles, scars, hyper pigmentation etc. which reduces the appearance of acne scars. A more natural option would be using: Papaya soap, lemon juice, yogurt, oatmeal, tomato juice, turmeric, milk, apple cider vinegar, green tea extract, aloe Vera as ingredients or bases in creams and soaps etc.
The existing scenario is frightening not just in terms of medical repercussions but also in underlying psychological disorders that arise from constant comparison of skin colors. Self-love should be at the forefront if the skin bleaching campaign is ever to be halted.
We should all endeavor to change our perception about skin colour. Then we can all strive to see a more melanin filled, happier tomorrow.
About Abena Hagan:
Abena Twerenyame Hagan is the founder and CEO of Curls-Aunaturel. She is a social media manager with a working history with Curls, Mane Choice, Revelon Realistic, Lusters, etc.
Over the years as an advocate for black empowerment, Abena has been interviews with BBC, BET, Channel 4 News and GHOne TV.
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