I sat in my Asian American class baffled that the same companies we use everyday like L’oreal and Garnier market different things across the globe. My professor was talking about the problem with skin bleaching particularly in Asian women. In the U.S., skin bleaching is not as big as it is in other countries. Big companies take advantage of the fact that women in Asia and Africa want to be the ideal women that is highly advertised.
Asian and African women feel like they need to be lighter like the European women are. Even though most these products are aimed at women of color, the marketing for it more often than not has a white women as the face of the product. That only re-emphasizes the fact that these women want to be like the white women.
This is obviously a problem not only because it teaches young girls that their skin is not beautiful but the chemicals in these skin bleaching products are very harmful. Thankfully, a woman in Ghana, Comfort Arthur, is standing up for herself and all the other women.
Now a filmmaker and animator, Arthur used to bleach her skin and hater her dark complexion as a child. She notes in her video with AJ+ that things like people saying her two lighter sisters were beautiful and black men constantly picking the lighter girls over the darker girls all contributed to her hate for her complexion.
However, no matter what the mass media tries to portray, us, women of color, should embrace our beautiful black, dark, or brown skin.
Ghana did ban bleaching products in 2016 but that did not change much, if anything at all. Bleaching products are still being sold and used. Arthur reached out to see why these harmful products are still on the shelf but has gotten no response to date.
A lot of people mix their own ingredients at home and sell them online. The ingredients used are surprising. There is cement, hair relaxers, and other chemicals that bleach the skin. It is not in any way healthy but on the contrary, very damaging. Most women aren’t aware of the ingredients which is not only immoral on behalf of the seller but also dangerous.
Arthur is a great role model who now campaigns against skin bleaching products. She has done film work revolving around this this issue. She directed Black Barbie to speak about her personal experience with bleaching. You can watch a teaser here.
I’ll admit that as a Mexican woman I have often wished to look lighter too. We are, after all, bombarded with media that holds the white woman on a pedestal. As a makeup lover, I see it in makeup brands too when they only cater to lighter skin tones. However, no matter what the mass media tries to portray, us, women of color, should embrace our beautiful black, dark, or brown skin.