Sunday, January 3, 2010

Bleaching creams and the bigger issue

(Honestly, I don't know if I can express myself eloquently enough or if I can adequately articulate my thoughts and emotions, but here goes nothing)


Often times, when I see a post or an article on the 'HORROR' of bleaching creams, it usually goes on about how 'bad' and damaging it is and how we should all 'love' the skin we're in.

But it never goes down to the deeper issue, to the
internalized issue.

If it's so bad, why does it make such a bundle every year in third worlds countries? (Bringing in $140 million yearly)

Why don't we see it for what it really is?

This unholy obsession with fairness, white skin, is damaging not only to our self-esteems but on our whole perception of race.

Who gets put onto a pedestal because of this? And why?

Internalized and systematic racism is everywhere and is evident in the boom of 'Fair and Lovely' crap.

It affects every person of color because of the perceived superiority of white people and those 'blessed' with fairness (although they are nothing compared to white people).


Personal experience- I grew up seeing my mother touted for her light skin in comparison with her other sisters. I was lighter than my own sister, but could never compare to my cousins. This led to summers spent mainly inside in order to avoid the 'darkening' rays of the sun and a very low self-esteem. Whenever I did venture outside, I would go into shady areas and if I did happen to come home a bit darker, I would be my harshest critic. One of my aunts gave me a bleaching cream that I would use sometimes, to the point of becoming obsessed with the color of my skin. But it'd never be enough. I would never look like those girls on the cover of my Seventeen magazine. Now, don't pity me. I was foolish. I was subtly (my aunt would recommend me to use the cream in order to 'even out' my skin tone) led to believe that my skin color was inferior to my lighter cousins who were also told to use the cream. And this isn't even about my aunt, who is a good-hearted person, but what she was also led to believe as child. This feeling of unworthiness was internalized as child as my parents grew up in Africa. They went to missionary schools filled with white nuns and teachers who taught them English and made the connection that white=good.

Although they didn't notice it at first, this reverence for white people and their skin color is rampant in many third world countries.



-composes self-

It's stupid ads like this that reinforce such ideals although an argument can be said that along with the post-colonial effects, such views could be stem from the culture.

From society upholding such damaging views. Although it is not limited to India, of course.

Can I be frank here?

We need to get a grip on ourselves and work hard towards dismantling the perception of white equaling goodness and beauty. To stop wasting our money on half-assed creams and staying indoors but traveling by night.

The world is not post-racial, meaning we still have a long ways to go until such stupid perceptions and views are gone and creams such as Fair and Lovely are banned.

I love my skin color and admit that I compare my face with that of my arms, my arms are covered all the time outside the house.
Even the word 'fair' bothers me.
What's fair about being prized while anyone darker is rejected?

I guess what I'm trying to get at in this entire ramble is that racism is still a big issue and one way I'm choosing to retaliate is racism in the form of bleaching creams.

Thank you and have a nice day.

15 comments:

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

god, that shit makes me so angry. this is the reason why advertisers need to be shot in the face. Advertising is DANGEROUS and sends the wrong message to the masses about beauty, gender roles, women's bodies, race, and pretty much everything else. It's very easy to brainwash people and tell them that having dark skin is ugly, having dark hair is ugly, etc.

what makes me even angrier are celebrities, models, pop divas, and movie stars who happily uphold this B.S.

sorry rant over. This particular product really ticks me off.

NoortheNinjabi said...

It's ridiculous and dangerous. There's a reason your skin is darker; if you were as pale as my see-through white ass, you'd fry in the sun (if you were in Africa.) There's also a major fallacy that these will get the same pigmentation as a white person; there are between 15 and 22 layers of pigment in a person's skin and the only way to get lighter is to strip that away, exposing it to extreme danger and possible permanent damage. ARGH!

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

Some of the stuff they use is dangerous! That benovate cream that some ppl use is a prescription medication for burn victims, but it is imported from Saudi.

gettinghijabi said...

I'm from Bangladesh and they use they commercialize the cream over there to. Sighs. I think they think white skin is the only way you can be successful. I saw this one commercial while i was visiting my parents family in Bangladesh and this girl who had a nice tan was saying how am I to get married when I'm so dark and her lovely white skin toned friend recommended Fair and Lovely. At the end of the commercial a guy is falling head over heals for the now white skinned girl.

And I noticed in the commercial that the girl had makeup on when she was whiter and none in the beginning when she was dark. And it wasn't the same girl and she wasn't as pretty. -.- they sure know how to commercialize..."Use our cream and become a new person."

BintSabirah said...

It's ridiculous that people would use dangerous products for the sake of vanity.

Wrestling With Religion said...

I spent some time in Malawi and I noticed that there was this attitude of "white people are better". It's really, really sad.

Interesting as well - and kind of ironic - that white people are harming themselves frying their skin in sunbeds trying to go darker. It's a strange world we live in!

marie said...

The thing is, the advertissements are really not solely responsible,they just cater to a demand.Before those products, there's always been "home made" remedies to lighten skin.People's attitudes have to change....
Descrimination in all forms is unaceptable.

SoCalPrincess said...

insecurities are to blame, period.

Shahirah Elaiza said...

Whitening creams are everywhere in Asia, South Asia & Middle East! You'll hardly find them in the West except in Asian stores. However, in the West, people are always trying to be tanned as tanning creams can be found everywhere lol.

I'm not defending advertisers but they're just being paid to do what they're supposed to. It's a business. But I think the biggest criminals are individuals (e.g. family) who teach their loved ones to believe that a certain skin colour equals to a superior standing in the eyes of society. It's a cruel cycle.

People say don't judge a book but it's cover but they don't practice what they preach. They have double standards. It's just part of people's cultures and the only way to break the cycle is through education.

Candice said...

My husband has this mentality that whiter is better. He finds his lighter cousins prettier and his darker cousins unattractive. He is in the middle between the whiter and darker family members, but insists he's lighter than most of them. It's weird! Same with hair... The straighter the better. And the lighter the better in colour for hair too.

I don't get it and I hope that people can start being just satisfied with how they are. I know this here is such a bigger problem than people who dye their hair and get surgery, etc. because of how linked it is to their cultural identity and heritage. Everyone deserves to feel proud of who they are, and everyone should. Afterall, they have much to be proud of.

♫T♪ said...

well said
x

ModestJustice said...

DIMA: No worries, this issue always gets me pissed whenever I a) see an ad b)get 'recommended' to try it and c) watch Indian movies (grew up on indian movies :P) in which the heroine is most likely ALWAYS a lighter skinned actress

NoortheNinjabi: Exactly! Dangerous crap people are willingly putting on ugh @.@

Stacy: Oh wow, I never knew that! -reinforces- many Somalis do this too, did you notice at some weddings, especially those in the Somalia, Djibouti e.t.c, the bride usually has like PANCAKE makeup on her face so light that she looks white, or someone with flour on their face.

Gettinghijabi: Why DO they make the 'before' girl seem depressed and 'ugly' when really I thought the girl in the commercial looked pretty before. Dark=ugly Light=beautiful

BintSabirah: I know, it's sad and shameful.

Wrestling with Religion: Funny right? We're all setting standards of beauty that harm us.

Marie: I completely agree!

SoCalPrincess: I have to disagree there, if it was only insecurities, then it wouldn't be effecting so many people. But then, who is making the standards that cause insecurities? IMHO,it's society, culture, people. Internalized racism, resulting in a mentality of inferiority, making a lighter complexion worth something more and their own natural complexion something despised.

Shahirah Elaiza: Very true! And sadly ironic. Yes it is just a business to them, I'm not blaming them but what you wrote, the family who's beliefs were from their culture which, at least I believe, was influenced or tarnished by colonialism. Very cruel cycle indeed.

Candice: Ugh, I'm sorry but I hate how your husband thinks! (Please don't take offense) "Everyone deserves to feel proud of who they are, and everyone should." Completely agree! :D

T: Thanks for commenting ^_^

M.J. said...

this boggles my mind. i went through what you went through... except i was agonizing over not being tan! now at the masjid i get envied bc of being so pale.
bottom line is people are never happy.

M.J. said...

i meant to add too that my father-in-law said that pale girls in pakistan can marry anyone. they themselves dont have to look that great, they just have to be pale. crazy!

Nurul said...

I wrote sumthing like this is well in my old blog last time. So true, sister. Bad bad bad.

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