Bleached: The Quest for Lighter Skin

Posted by on May 29, 2012

Colorism is a sickness that still plagues our society today. As absurd as it sounds in this day and age, the “White is right” mentality unfortunately still internally afflicts many. And there are individuals willing to go to extreme lengths to get there. One method is through skin bleaching.

Some skin creams promise to correct discoloration and even out hyperpigmentation, but many are used to completely alter one’s complexion. One online source claims that it is a “myth” that African-Americans use skin bleaching creams to look more Caucasian. But is it?

I grew up witnessing family members applying products in order to lighten their complexions. Over a decade later, they still swear by these same creams. “It makes my skin look smooth and clear,” a close relative told me. Her once-coco skin was now a golden caramel. It supposedly made her look younger and more radiant. She even bragged about the compliments she received after she started using the cream. Old friends begged her to divulge what she had been using. “I’ll never tell them,” she swore.

It no surprise that these creams are heavily marketed in urban communities and in neighborhoods with a population of color. A line blatantly called “Fair & White” claims to have products that “make your complexion radiant.” Then there are harsh creams like “African Queen Beauty Cream” that come under misleading names like “Organic Toning Body Lotion Skin Lightener System,” or “Complexion Lotion.“ Another called “ActiveWhite” says it makes “Whiter Skin possible, for a more beautiful you.” Really though? In 2010? The even sadder part is that there are women, like my beautiful aunts and cousins, who purchase and use these products.

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