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Bleaching; a lost fight?

One of the likeable things about WhatsApp messages is how some of them can get you laughing to the extent that people around turn to look and then bingo, you hit the share button with the intention of getting others to laugh too.

Sometimes you succeed, other times you don’t because the person may have received the message thrice already; a situation referred to as sharing “pasco”.

Perhaps someone somewhere may be busy developing an app which will prevent already shared messages from getting through to our phones once applied.

But why am I going on about WhatsApp application when what I intend to write about is a message I received recently which has kept me laughing to date?

And it goes like this: For God so loved the black man that he gave him black skin, and whosoever bleacheth it will have everlasting sores!

Though I found the message creative, I also saw a lot of wisdom and reality in it.

It is about our love for bleaching.

This scourge has afflicted mankind, especially black people for some time now. In the name of skin toning, fading, lightening and many more, many continue to destroy their natural skin by bleaching.

In Ghana, the trail that bleaching has left behind has manifested in many kinds of scars on the skin and multi-coloured complexions euphemistically known as ‘nanso eben’ and body odour.

Regrettably, bleaching is no longer a female thing as males have joined the wagon and are matching the females boot for boot.

Bleaching has become no respecter of persons, as both the literate and illiterate are neck deep in it.

The young and the old are both doing it.

It is very worrying to see pregnant women bleaching, with the intention of looking fairer by the time they have their naming ceremony. And then there is this growing concern about mothers

bleaching their babies!

Over the years, the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has given warnings about the harmful effects of bleaching.

Sometimes the FDA has carried out swoops in the markets to seize some of these harmful products, and in spite of a ban on them, the products are on the market in different forms — lotions, soaps, creams, liquids and recently tablets, pills and injectables.

There are local and foreign-made ones.

Recently, the FDA had cause again to warn against the dire health consequences of the use of such products.

It mentioned renal failure, damaged lungs, exacerbated asthma, vomiting, hair loss, allergic reactions and more as possible side effects.

We still have billboards advertising light skin products. Though they may not be explicit as bleaching creams, the aim is not different.

What seems to be the motivation for bleaching?

For some is the perception that being fair is what constitutes beauty! Some women believe that men prefer fair women and some have also argued that that perception is the residue of the colonisation by the white man. So do women also prefer fair males?

What is the motivation for male bleaching?

Granted that males prefer fair females, why hasn’t the continuous unpleasant effects of skin bleaching we witness not become a deterrent since what ultimately happens is a complete departure from fairness? In fact with time, the victim looks nothing short of a boiled crab.

There have been some campaigns espousing the beauty of the black skin.

Yet, these have not deterred would-be bleachers.

Why have such campaigns not worked?

Why is it that a woman sitting next to another with severe effects of what bleaching holds still starts her own journey only to arrive at the same destination?

Sometimes it is rather baffling that people who can barely scrap a living rather invest their meagre resources in this unproductive venture.

Some people, in their desperation to become fair but lacking the resources, resort to all manner of stuff ranging from the use of carbide to parazone etc.

Even more serious about the situation is that some manufacturers have started adding, without notice, bleaching agents into those products which are not known to be bleaching products, making some women bleach without consent!

So you may have a brand of cocoa butter you have been using but with bleaching agents added at some point, and it is only after applying it for some time that you notice what is happening.

According to a cosmetic products seller, the manufacturers do this to sustain patronage in a product realising how badly some people want to be fair.

Money seems to be the motivation for this!
Whatever it is that causes bleaching, I think we are not doing enough to educate the populace about the health hazards which are often irreversible.

Our religious bodies could take this matter up but what happens in churches where the pastors are active participants?

The FDA still needs to ensure that the products are off the market stalls and intensify education about the dire health consequences!


By: Doreen Hammond


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