Stop bleaching away your destiny – Part 3
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment… Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty…. which is of great worth in God’s sight.” — 1 Peter 3:3-4(NIV)
“The greatest secret of a successful appearance is ‘be yourself’” -— Edith Sitwell
Coco Chanel, a French fashion designer and one of the most fascinating fashion models that made a lasting impression and left a rich ecstatic legacy in the fashion world, once said, “Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself”. We must believe strongly that by being ourselves, we are putting something wonderful in the world that was not there before, and the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself.
The search for self-worth is not a skin phenomenon, a healthy self-esteem begins by finding what is indestructible inside, and then letting it be. The level of bleaching among artists, celebrities, label ambassadors and politicians is pitiably appalling to the extent that some have bleached away their identity and are no different from a variegated leaf. Unfortunately, the elite and respected people in the society who are supposed to speak against this degrading and self-inflictive act are gradually bleaching themselves into oblivion.
Many have bleached their skin beyond its elastic limit and are now at the mercy of ‘environmental punishers’ like the UVA, UVB-rays of the sun etc. In the face of climate change and environmental uncertainties, people that are bleaching their skin are on the edge of becoming endangered species. It is poignant to also know that some lousy organizations encourage their staffs to bleach in order to lure customers; some of them are even given bleaching ‘allowances’. I have used the last two editions to strongly speak against the social, health and psychological implications of bleaching. Africans have been psychologically battered and manipulated to believe that their black skin is inferior and I believe strongly that the level of ignorance that is ravaging the black heritage and culture needs to be urgently addressed before the victim’s doomsday.
We should stop buying into the myth that a lighter skin means a better life. It is a blatant lie; your mind and not your skin should be the object of enlightenment. It is appalling to see in Nigeria how people are addictively desirous to bleach their skin to look like the white man but will never go any length to upgrade their spoken English! When I see people paying for bleaching creams, I pitiably get angry because they are paying for their ignorance. The damaging effects of bleaching goes beyond the skin, this act had been found to cause psychiatric disorders, asthma, nagging acne, liver damage, Osteoporosis, neurological and kidney damage. No wonder why we have an alarming statistics of Nigerians with varying degrees of kidney problem.
Skin bleaching and lightening has reached an alarming proportion and it is high time we rose collectively to speak against this kind of self-inflicted genocide and brainwashing. Many countries have taken a bold step in the war against this dastard act. In 2007, the Jamaican government had to run a campaign called ‘Don’t Kill The Skin’ to highlight the dangers of skin bleaching when it became very obvious that the abusive act was becoming commonplace.
South Africa banned products containing more than 2% hydroquinone, mercury and steroids, before then, South Africa was becoming a bleaching hub in Africa and Yeoville in Johannesburg was becoming a centre of skin lightening rendezvous. Ivory Coast took a bold step to ban bleaching creams in 2015 against intimidating oppositions, the government took the bold step to safeguard the lives of the citizens. Though, the American FDA has ascertained the damaging effect of bleaching on the skin, they have not been able to take a bold step due to stiff opposition and resistance from cosmetic ‘principalities’.
The European Union banned the use of non-recommended bleaching creams back in 2001 but the monitoring and implementation have become a tug of war between government and the syndicates. The Nigerian government and relevant stakeholders must also intervene by creating awareness of the consequences of skin bleaching. Nigeria has been a dumping ground for bleaching creams for long. We also need veterans in the health sector to speak out against this blatant impunity.
The deadly effect of bleaching transcends the ignorant mother to seal a tragic fate for an innocent victim-the unborn child. It has been ascertained that bleaching exposes the developing foetus to ominous dangers. A bleaching mother is the tragedy of an unborn child; we must educate mothers on the need to safeguard their children from their own irresponsible lifestyles. Several studies had been done to ascertain the short and long term effects of bleaching mothers vis-à-vis the medical implications on their offspring, two of the articles that I personally scrutinized also identified birth defects/problems with offspring health as health risks associated with skin bleaching. More specifically, Mahé et al. (2005) presented initial evidence of renal dysfunction and cataracts in new-borns related to the mother’s use of skin bleaching products. This was further evidenced by a study which found that pregnant skin bleachers’ had smaller placenta and children born at low birth weights, low cortisol levels, and higher rates of birth defects associated with mercury exposure (Mahé et al., 2007).
We should not be ignorant of the creams we use. We should check out for the chemical composition of these creams before applying them on our skin. We need to avoid as much as possible, those creams with high levels of hydroquinone, mecury, kojic acid, arbutin, retinoic acid, lactic acid, corticosteroids, niacinamide and even an abuse of vitamin A among others. It is also appalling to know that more sophisticated methods for bleaching are now in vogue. Special injections that bleach from within are now the prevalent method among elite victims, each of the injection lasts for six months. Bleaching capsules are also evolving to meet the rising demands in the bleaching ‘industry’.
I would also like to underline at this juncture that some lightening creams are sometimes recommended by dermatologists for some skin diseases (e.g. eczema, psoriasis etc.). In fact, depigmentation, a medical treatment that lightens or fades skin, is sometimes used in the treatment of vitiligo, a condition that causes pale patches on the skin, but these are meant to be taken strictly under the supervision of a skin specialist.
I believe strongly that there is still hope for a bleached skin because the human skin has a fantastic way of healing itself regardless of the dangers done to it. Since, it is the most abused of all the five senses, it has been divinely ‘programmed’ by God to heal itself. Honey, almond oil and cocoa-butter are the three major natural ingredients that can help the skin heal naturally. Though, an immediate miracle is not guaranteed, but it will ultimately return your skin back to its natural state. Detoxification is another way to eradicate a victim’s body of the accumulative effect of heavy metals and substances as a result of prolonged bleaching. Natural remedies include the use of turmeric, green tea, oats, lentils, lemons, dandelions, fruits and vegetables; they are a great source of ingredients for boosting liver function and eliminating toxins from your body.
The Honourable Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, should initiate a stakeholder meeting to look into and address the great damage to our health and psychology, with its attendant toll on our national and cultural heritage. Until we re-educate ourselves about the inherent beauty of the African skin, we will remain alienated from ourselves. We are crying out to the government, pharmaceutical/cosmetic industry and international medical fraternity to help us in the campaign against this defacing and destructive evil.
Finally, to the Nigerian youths, stop bleaching away your intrinsic beauty, celebrate your natural skin. Your melanin is a gift and not a curse. When you bleach, you are insulting your Creator, bleaching is a shame! You will never influence the world by trying to be like it; let us stop bleaching our skin in order to fit into some imperialist beauty standards. Don’t EVER bleach your skin for someone’s acceptance because whosoever you bleach your skin to keep, you will eventually lose. The easiest way to stop bleaching is not to start it at all.