I have to admit, I have a bottle of “fade” cream aka as bleaching cream in my bathroom drawer. I bought it some time ago to help lighten dark spots I had developed from acne. I now think twice about that bottle in my drawer and what having such a product means.
China, India and Nigeria are the some of the biggest consumers of bleaching cream used to achieve whiter skin. I strongly believe the effects of colonialism and the caste system are the main reasons skin bleaching is a $10 billion industry. Western media also plays a huge role in skin bleaching as it promotes European features as THE desired standard of beauty globally. To boot, western media celebrates black culture and characteristics, such as dance, full lips and curvier behinds, but only on someone with white skin. Unfair to black culture, when it doesn't have to be. When people of colour aren’t acknowledged in the media as Europeans are, and are continuously portrayed in undesirable situations, in addition to them not seeing products that look like them or products made with them in mind, they consciously or subconsciously believe they are not as significant or attractive as people with European features. As a result some of these people will turn to bleaching cream to lighten their skin in hopes of “fitting in.”
Skin bleaching is a social problem and a health risk. Prolonged use of bleaching creams can cause cancer and risks to an unborn baby because of ingredients such as hydroquinone and mercury. It’s a social problem because when people don’t feel good about who they are it causes depression, anxiety and more negative outcomes in society. It blows my mind that some people would rather look like an alien and risk their health to be lighter skinned. This is why I’m so delighted that there are organizations popping up such as WOW India’s Dark Is beautiful campaign, social media campaigns and hashtags such as “unfair and lovely” “Melanin Monday” among others to change the narrative about darker skin tones in a positive way.
It’s essential that diverse beauty and skin tones be highlighted in the media as real beauty also, because it's the truth. More people of colour need to spearhead outlets that celebrate who they are. I will certainly to do my part to ensure this happens hoping it will encourage people of colour to love who they are and celebrate other people just the way they are; in their own skin.