The skin bleaching epidemic takes place predominantly in African-American and populations of color. I discovered this for the first time and the extremes people go through to achieve lighter colored skin, just a few weeks ago while watching the Tyra Show. What's more, African-American women are the most avid users of skin bleaching agents, which have fallen subject to what is considered the American standard of beauty.
Have you ever heard the saying, "If you're white, you're alright. If you're brown, stick around. If you're Black, stay back?" Many Black women who use these skin bleaching agents truly believe that Black is not considered beautiful. It is believed that lighter skinned women are preferred over darker skinned women and that skin color is a status symbol in society.
One guest on the Tyra Show backed her belief by using one of her own experiences as an example; her ex-boyfriend had cheated on her and left her for a lighter skinned woman. As a result, she had been bleaching her skin ever since. To go to extremes, another woman and mother of three young boys had not only been bleaching her skin, but her sons' skin as well. Claiming to save them from the prejudices of society that she felt she had faced because of her darker skin complexion, she bleached her sons regularly at least once a day, starting from an early age.
What is surprising to me is how these people have become so wrapped up in trying to meet society's percepted standard of beauty that they are oblivious to or choose to ignore the serious side-effects these products could have upon their skin in the long-run. The harmful chemicals in skin bleaching agents, including mercury, can eventually lead to greater pigmentation of the skin, premature aging and greater vulnerability to skin cancer.
Just think, isn't it ironic how many Caucasians and lighter skinned people spend a lot of time trying to tan their skin, while many of us wish we were lighter, willing to go to desperate measures such as this? We should appreciate the skin we're in and love being in it. All shades of our skin is what makes us unique as a people; remember that Black is also beautiful!