I tuned into Al Jazeera’s live stream a few days ago and they were discussing the topic of women bleaching their skin to look more ‘beautiful’. It seems like society shapes people’s view of what is the ‘ideal look’. I was truly shocked when I found out that some women in India and Nigeria were told that dark skinned women will never get married. A young Indian boy aged 12 was also considering getting his skin bleached because children grow up to believe that the lighter your skin is, the more successful you will be.
This is due to false advertising from a famous Bollywood actor named Shahrukh Khan. He was promoting ‘Fair and Handsome’ – which is a bleaching cream for men. In this advertisement, you can see Shahrukh Khan persuading a man to use the cream in order to look attractive to the woman he likes (and yes, the woman is also light skinned). In the end of this 40 second ad, the man finally wins the heart of the woman he loves because his skin is lighter. The name itself ‘Fair and Handsome’ will only deceive people. This is what Indian children are watching on their TV screens. (The link of this advertisement is shown below)
The significance of skin bleaching didn’t actually hit me until someone I personally knew bleached their skin. After an awkward encounter of trying to figure out who she was when she approached me on the street, I realised that not only was her skin 10 times lighter than it used to be but I just couldn’t stop thinking about it while she was talking to me. Don’t get me wrong, I was just shocked. I got used to it after a while. But the question is: why would anyone bleach their skin in the first place? Does it give them self confidence?
Many celebrities and so called ‘role models’ are getting lighter by the day. For example, L’Oreal has been accused of ‘whitewashing’ Beyonce in one of her photoshoots and that they’ve made her look paler than usual. According to the Daily Mail, Beyonce signed the contract and she had to agree to keep her hair in ‘excellent condition’ and tell the company before making ‘ radical’ alterations to her image. But making her skin colour lighter is a bit far-fetched, don’t you think? And that’s where the problem starts because well-known companies promote and feature white or lighter complexioned people.
This affects the younger generation especially on social networking sites. There are divisions between the black community where people are either ‘team light skin’ or ‘team dark skin’. I’m constantly seeing comments such as ‘you’ve got good hair for a dark skinned girl’ and ‘dark skinned girls are unattractive’. Where did all this discrimination come from? There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your skin colour but always remember that it doesn’t mean you are more superior to others because of it. We need to embrace different races and stop discriminating people who are darker.
Here are the side effects of skin bleaching:
– Skin peeling
– Skin burns/cancer
– Some whitening creams have an awful smell
– Stretch marks
– Uneven skin tone
– Hair loss
– Pimples breakout
Why would you risk getting skin cancer or other awful side effects just because ‘Beyonce’ or ‘Nicki Minaj’ are bleaching their skin? Some may use these creams because of their insecurities but the side effects are much worse. Don’t let these brands make you feel like you need to alter your own looks to be beautiful and successful.
Embrace the colour of your skin. You’re beautiful.