The Problem With Skin Lighteners

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ProductPhoto: Courtesy of Whitenicious by Dencia.

Wherever you go, you only have to look around to realize that Western standards of beauty are still quite powerful and pervasive, with luminous, lighter skin remaining high on a list of valued assets. In Nigeria, the practice of "skin toning" (a.k.a. skin lightening) is brisk business, with the World Health Organization reporting 77% of Nigerian women using skin-lightening creams on a regular basis. And, there's a new cream causing quite the firestorm. According to an article spotted in Clutch Magazine, Whitenicious by Dencia, a skin-lightening cream that claims to remove dark spots and gradually lighten hyperpigmented areas in as few as seven days, has apparently sold out.

The article goes on to explain that skin toning is practiced across the African nation with promises of less social stigma, higher attractiveness to men, and increased earning income. Dencia, the Nigerian-Cameroonian pop star behind the product, evidently uses it quite a bit: You have only to review before and after photos to see her transformation from beautiful brown skin to her current vampiric cast.

It's not just Nigeria that values lighter, brighter skin. Skin creams of this nature are sold in large quantities in India, China, Malaysia, and the Philippines, among other nations with the promise of a better chance at life. While the societal ramifications of this "whiter is better" mindset are beyond disturbing on their own,it doesn't even include the health risks these creams pose: mercury poisoning received from high doses of lead, chemical burns from others, and ingredients in still others linked to types of cancer and leukemia.

In a world so diverse and beautiful, when will we get to a point where individuality will be celebrated, where heightening your own unique beauty will be the key to happiness? Sadly, with the popularity of these creams holding strong, it appears we have a long way to go. (Clutch Magazine)


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