Due to the age of online access we’re seeing an astronomical amount of Black and Latino females doing everything from undergoing surgery to using creams and taking pills just to have the “lighter look”.
I have mixed emotions. A part of me is surprised that things have come down to being defined by our physical features. Another part of me is sad because of the damaging effects skin bleaching has in the long run. The bigger part of me is angry but it’s hypocritical of me to feel that way. How can I be angry at women and girls for wanting to be lighter versions of themselves I once told my own mother that I hated my dark skin? I selfishly prayed for lighter skin. I used cocoa butter three times a day to try making my skin less dark. I purposely chose lighter friends to feel better about myself. Thankfully those inferior thoughts eventually changed.One of the ways I overcame feeling inadequate about my skin color is that I had a village of elderly women who provided positive images of beautiful women with the same skin complexion as mine. I was constantly reminded that I’m beautiful and uniquely made. Also, I had to dig deep within self to see where the root of my prejudice.
The desire of being light skinned has been around since the oppressive times of bondage where mulatto slaves worked in the house while the darker ones were in the fields. Even though slavery ended centuries ago, the mechanisms passed down from tormentors have been recycled within our own generations. Some of us as children we were told, to stay out of the sun to avoid being dark. Parents have told their sons not to bring anyone darker than them home. Those with less melanin felt it was a badge of honor to pass for another ethnicity. Most of the music videos have the same girl: light-skinned, decent body (thanks to cosmetic enhancements), long hair and a combination of exotic features.
With the images displayed on television and the verbal expressions of family and friends, no wonder women and girls are made to feel of lessor value. I know plenty of dark-skinned women who have accepted condescending comments disguised as compliments. “You’re pretty for a dark skinned girl”, “I normally don’t date dark women but I’ll give you a chance”, and “For you to be dark skinned, your makeup looks nice on you.” Has the self-esteem of women depreciated so much that they feel mediocre is acceptable?
Skin bleaching is heavily practiced in the United States, the Caribbean, and within several countries in the African and Asian continents.
Recently I had the chance to speak with a Haitian guy and his thoughts on the subject matter far exceeded mine. In his country, lighter Haitians are considered well off. He’s been in the states for five years and has seen women and girls from his homeland migrate here and adopt the same “lighter is better” attitude.
The only difference between light and dark skin is melanin. Melanin is what makes up our skin complexion with sunlight exposure.
Ghana recently made news stating that it will ban skin bleaching. As much as my heart was overfilled with joy there was a deeper question inside. How are you going to get females who’ve been conditioned to think dark skin has a stigma to developing healthy self-esteem of appreciating their skin regardless of the color tone?
One way to help change the problem is raising the awareness about the dangers of skin bleaching. The epidermis, dermis, and subcutaneous fat make up our skin layers. The epidermis is the outer layer, what we see. It contains both living and dead cells The dermis is the thicker layer underneath the epidermis, made up of living cells. The subcutaneous fat is the bottom skin layer that controls our body temperature, and stores fat. Can you image the damage of chemicals and steroids contained in skin bleaching products doing to the living cells, blood vessels, nerve cells and body fat?
Having lighter skin doesn’t erase the limited belief that’s already there. In order to appreciate the skin you’re in, you have to believe that you’re more than enough and that you skin complexion doesn’t define who you are.
Women and girls are influenced by magazines, television, and social media to fit into society standards of beauty but it comes at a high cost.
What are your thoughts about skin bleaching?