Home Culture & Society Skin bleaching: The need to belong!?

Skin bleaching: The need to belong!?

by caribdirect
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The advent of skin bleaching in the early years of the new millennium was a hot debate topic. Walking on the streets of downtown Kingston, you will see women selling all types of products to lighten the skin.

Not only will they advise the recommended dosage and administration but their faces (sometimes the only body part) hands and legs are completely lighter in colour as opposed to other areas of the body. It is quite appalling that this will be seen as appealing and attractive features. What happened to our self esteem, awareness and love?

Where are the Black is beautiful and black and proud themes which were the slogans during the seventies? The majority race of the Caribbean’s population is black and the struggles of our forefathers for racial equality, debunking the European concept of beauty has been long and difficult.

Marcus Mosiah Garvey

Leaders like Marcus Garvey set the stage for self realization of black power, beauty and potential.  Their task was not without great difficulty and perseverance and yet it seems that some do not recognize or aspire to this. Bleaching of the skin is a cardinal sin in my book. I am black, beautiful and proud.

Oddly enough, the criticisms of the darkness of my skin were from my own black people. The Jamaican saying “anything black no good” is one that is touted quite often. The word black is often associated with negativity and the lightness of the skin is revered and seen as beautiful. The “browning” effect was popularized by dancehall music through Buju Banton’s “Love mi Browning” which created a lot of controversy which he followed up with “Black woman” which in my opinion was an attempt to undo any seemingly glorification of light skinned women.

I may point out that the first famous person to successfully bleach the skin is

Buju Banton - Love Mi Browning

Michael Jackson and not Vybz Kartel who washes with the cake soap. When Michael came under scrutiny, he credited his “change” to a skin disease which didn’t address the other facial structure changes which were obvious. Yet Kartel embraced it, even belting out a tune complimenting his transformation, that his skin is enviable with song entitled “Colouring Book.” Last time I checked, that notion looks great only on paper and not the largest human organ which is the skin.

The concept of beauty is deeply ingrained in the European standard in the Caribbean, where browning with “good” hair are revered.  Great strides have been made over the decades. The good news is that not all aspire to this. There are others who have upheld afro centricity, black esteem and pride. It was and is slowly changing as the embracing of naturally curly hairstyles, afros and braids are making a comeback. So emancipate yourself from mental slavery, so as not to be blinded as to what is real beauty. Beauty is not only skin deep but it certainly starts at the surface.



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