Apr 28, 2014 News
“My significant other was often bothered by the dark complexion that stretched from a section of my inner thighs to my private parts. The rest of my body was light brown in skin tone. I decided to use a skin lightening product between my inner thighs to even out the skin tone. After three weeks, I noticed that it got lighter but it became sensitive to certain soaps and products. It would itch terribly and it started to get small red boils. I have tried several other treatments to get rid of the boils but the skin between my legs is thin now thin and wrinkled.”
This was the assertion of a 24-year-old businesswoman and mother of one who resides in Lamaha Gardens, Georgetown. While she is not the only one, there are other stories, similar and worse of those who thought that skin lighteners are “God-sent skin agents that exfoliate the skin leaving behind a heavenly glow.” But this is, as research indicates, far from the truth.8
This practice, believe it or not, is becoming extremely common in various sections of the society.
Skin whitening or bleaching is the use of chemical substances to lighten skin tone or provide an even skin complexion. Several chemical products have been shown to be effective in ‘skin whitening’, and the demand for them here is high.
In Guyana, local stores and pharmacists say that these lightening products have become extremely popular and even the men have become regular customers. It was also noted that these bleaching agents are not only being used to “colour correct” certain areas of the skin but some persons are going to the extreme and are attempting to change the colour of their entire skin.
In interviews with several persons who bleach every religious day, they expressed different reasons for their “bleaching fetish.”
A 23-year-old University Student said: “Though I am East Indian, my complexion is very dark. I hate it. It disgusts me. The rest of my family is very light in complexion. How I ended up like this beats me but I am bleaching for some time and I am seeing the results. I experience some itching sometimes but that is a small price to pay for the results I am seeing.”
And one dark-complexioned businessman asserted: “I don’t agree that people who hate their skin colour are the ones who bleach. I have no problem with the fact that I am an African man but who is to say that because I want a lighter skin tone something is wrong with me? Girls change their hair from yellow to green and I don’t see people writing articles on them. I bleach because it’s apart of my skin care regiment. I get a nice even tone and my wife does too. We have high self esteem, but we believe in beauty and health care.”
One local and popular model explained, “There is a social pressure as to what defines beauty in the world of fashion and if it is one thing that I have learnt is that a lot of emphasis and points are given to the person with a great glow and even skin tone. I have been bleaching for the past two years particularly between my legs, arm pits, chin, elbows and knees because for me those areas are dark. It is important to have an even skin tone in this business. As a black woman you are competing against women that are light in complexion and have even skin tone from head to toe. If your skin is black the least you can do is ensure that it’s smooth, glowing and even in tone. So bleaching for me is imperative in that regard.”
On the other hand, psychologists have noted that there is a relationship between skin bleaching, low self-esteem, and a hate for the racial identity that comes with one’s natural complexion. To solve this, they insist that education on the harmful effects of bleaching and the importance of being in love with your own skin is necessary.
Research indicates that long term use of skin whiteners can lead to pigmentation increasing to the joints of the fingers, toes, buttocks and ears. The skin of the face can become thin and the area around the eyes can have increased pigmentation causing a ‘bleach panda effect’. There is a growing market in skin lightening products that are toxin-free. However, they are more costly due to their expensive ingredients.
Staff at one local pharmacy in Georgetown claim that one in every six women that come, seek advice of beaching products. And two in almost every five men ask about it. “We believe that they are safe if not taken to the extreme. Some just want to clear parts but others want to do a complete clear skin treatment. It is not advised but if they want it that is their choice. We have provided the advice.”
In the local beauty industry, dermatologists, skin care experts and makeup artists are divided on the issue. Some support the use while some advise against it and ask that natural ways be used instead of using toxic chemicals.
Social Experts also say that low self esteem or self hate and peer pressure or social pressure are just few of the reasons that drive both men and women to use the skin lighteners, apart from the cases where some do not appreciate their skin colour.
Jagdeo will make ayo sell ayo bodies to feed ya’ll pickney.
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