Sisterhood Agenda

Thoughts About Skin Bleaching

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Angela D. Coleman

Angela, Founding President of Sisterhood Agenda, is a sisterhood activist, publisher and author.

Latest posts by Angela D. Coleman (see all)

Why would any woman want to lighten her skin?  It is a similar mindset that would would motivate someone to have surgery to make changes to their face (nose job, facial implants, lip plumping) and body (breast augmentation, liposuction, butt injections).  Fake hair, fake nails, fake body, fake skin?  What they really want is to be beautiful.

Skin bleaching is very popular in many parts of Africa, Asia, India, Latin America, and the United States.  It is not unique to any one race or ethnic group, although some do it more than others:

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Unfortunately, too many of us are taught that lighter skin is better. It’s a lie.

The diversity of our sisterhood is what truly makes us remarkably gorgeous and uniquely fine.  Many sister celebrities are believed to engage in skin bleaching practices, even though they may deny it:

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Tyra Banks Skin bleaching
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How do these products work and why do some ladies look so…  different?  Skin lightening products include bleaching creams, whiteners, skin brighteners, or fade.  They lighten skin by reducing its melanin.  Melanin is what gives our skin and hair its color. Some people even believe that melanin has spiritual properties. 

When it comes to skin bleaching, the darker the skin, the more extreme the outcome.  

But the sad reality is, women are not the only ones skin-bleaching-men do it, too:

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Reasons why bleaching is dangerous is because some skin bleaching products have mercury, which can lead to mercury poisoning. While mercury is banned in U.S. products, it is still available in other countries.  According to WebMD, there can be many other risks of skin lightening, which include:

  • Prolonged use can contribute to premature aging of skin.
  • Long-term use may increase the risk of skin cancer from sun exposure.
  • Steroids in some skin lighteners may increase risk for skin infections, skin thinning, acne, and poor wound healing.
  • Applying steroids to large areas of skin may put you at risk for health problems related to steroid being absorbed by the body.
  • Hydroquinone may cause unwanted and untreatable skin discoloration (ochronosis).
  • Various bleaching agents, including natural ingredients, can cause skin irritation or allergic reaction.

If you love skin bleaching so much, why deny it?  The denial comes from shame.  I do not believe that the cost to your self-esteem, ethnic pride, and health are worth it.

As your sister, I have to tell you what I honestly believe-this unnatural look makes me sad.

When my daughter was 16 years old, a dermatologist in Harlem prescribed a very expensive skin cream for her acne breakouts.  She lost it in her travels. We did not realize until later that it was a bleaching agent.  If her skin was lightened, it would break my heart. I am sure that the dermatologist, who also suggested a nose alteration, thought that she was doing us a favor.

You are beautiful

Instead of blaming my sisters, I try to understand the mental conditioning that make some of us want to lighten our natural color. It is clear that many women who bleach their skin believe that they need to do it to be beautiful.  And too many “professionals” benefit from a lack of awareness. This kind of beauty, bordering on self-hatred, is highly overrated.  Your thoughts?

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