Article - Are You Comfortable in Your Own Skin?



Have you ever seen posters pasted on the back of buses advertising skin bleaching products and thought of using them?  These are some of my views on the subject.  Article below sent to Emma Horrell, TV Researcher at Bona Broadcasting for Documentary on issues of Skin Lightening. 

It's not just Asian consumers using skin bleaching products, the African/Caribbean communities use them too and I think overall it is mostly women who use these products.  I've not yet heard of many men using them but perhaps some do.  Afterall, Michael Jackson made a startling transformation turning from his own warm complexion to a whiter than white alabaster.  In fact he is now fairer than most Caucasians.  He claims that he doesn't bleach his skin and that he suffers from a rare skin condition called Vitiligo which affects the skin pigment.  This is an on-going debate.

I recently read articles in a newspaper claiming that one can buy a tube of skin lightening cream from as cheap as £2.95 available in specialist shops in areas like Brixton, Streatham.  There are also some shops owned by Asians selling imported products.  Investigative reporters posing as customers found that one shop kept a cream that had been banned from sale in the shops but the shop keeper produced it from under his counter. 

Vanity and making changes to our personal image keep the giant manufacturers in business.  Most of us have heard of the well known skin lightener 'Fair and Lovely' advertised and made in India, also sold globally.  These types of products are also available to buy in many Asian supermarkets in the UK without the consultation of any skin specialist or pharmacist.  This is quite disconcerting - is only 'fair' lovely? 

An Asian friend of mine disclosed that most of her close family members are fair skinned and being dusky-complexioned herself, while she was growing up she felt she was the one who stood out and felt like the black sheep of the family!  Her family would tease her about her skin tone and being sensitive naturally she didn't take it well.  Later, she developed confidence and became comfortable in her own skin (excuse the pun.)  She doesn't have any issues now but she said it was hard growing up with comments about her skin coming from her own family.  However, I don't think she would ever have gone to the extreme of bleaching her skin. She was strong enough to ward off her family's comments.

One can argue the point that sun/salon tanning can alter appearance in order to look and feel good and wear outfits with more confidence.   A tan is sometimes described as 'healthy' but is it?  The answer is no.  There is no such thing as a healthy tan and a dark tan is the result of sun damage resulting in a negative effect on our skin cells.  I like being out in the sun but have become extra cautious about sun exposure as it cannot be taken for granted - anyone can develop skin cancer including people with high amounts of melanin.

Skin lightening results in changing ones identity and I feel people who try to lighten their skin might be suffering from an inferiority complex.  However, the reason for wanting to change the colour of skin tone doesn't lie only with the individual.  People are influenced and driven into thinking from a young age that fair skin equals beauty and is more appealing.  Perhaps it's also a lack of education and ignorance.  Is being fair skinned more advantageous than having dusky skin and in what way?  Is it because dark skinned people are ashamed of their own race or just unhappy with the shade of skin?  Or perhaps both.  Are people who bleach their skin likely to want to alter features too?  This is another example of what some people will go through in order to conform with society.  But at what cost?  There have been some cases of very harmful damage and bad skin reactions to the abrasive chemicals in skin lightening products leading to permanent skin damage.

This is a controversial topic and people must be made aware of the dangers which might affect them physically and psychologically.

By Gina Chrysanthou ©

(written 01.03.07) Copied to Asians in Media, article edited

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