Between Bleaching, Skin Cancer and Nigerian Ladies By Ifeanyi Igbokwe

woman-bleaching-skin-e1360036361656A couple of days back a report credited to the WHO tried to confirm how that 77% of Nigerian women use bleaching cosmetics or materials; well let me start by saying that that statistics is so bloated that it fell short of conveying the intended message.

That said; let’s get to the heart of the matter. Many young ladies and women are tempted to lighten up their color a little bit; while on the surface it looks so fashionable and trendy but only if they know the health implication of bleaching, even the most obsessed of them would not even consider altering the tone of their color one bit. Let me start by explaining the bleaching process. When a person is ‘black’, it is because there is melanin in the body is produced and it gives their skin its colour. So when you apply the cream to the skin or in the form of an injection or tablet, it simply cuts off the production of melanin, so the ‘blackness’ to the skin is not supplied anymore and it begins to pale.  But then around the knees, toes, ankles, fingers the individual soon notices rings of different shades of black and pale. Naturally, thinking you have not applied enough, you are tempted to apply more cream to the toes and fingers so that the degree of pales it exhibits will be uniform with what is obtained in the face region, but that’s where the danger is. Most bleaching creams are made up of either Hydroquinone or mercury which either way are cancer causing substances. So you accumulate so much amount of mercury on your skin, which will react with Ultra-violet radiation from the sun, greatly increasing the risk of skin cancer and increasing the rate of aging.

At this point I must mention that melanin is what God has put in our skin, knowing the intensity of the heat of the sun in this side of the Sahara. By using any bleaching process to cut off its supply, the skin’s protection again the sun is voluntarily withdrawn, and it’s not like you won’t go out again so as not to meet the sun.

But then when usage is prolonged the health risks are even worse. When those products are used for a long time, it accumulates in the skin exposing the user to very high risks of kidney failure, liver failure or even worse mercury poisoning.

Unlike most countries in Africa, a ban has been placed on over-the-counter non-prescribed sales of products that contain up to 2% Hydroquinone in the UK and US; seeing that their unrestricted circulation poses a major health threat.

I have realized that this problem is peculiar to Africa; in fact in places like India, Singapore, China and Malaysia and some other places, that the market is said to be really large.

But then what drives that hideous desire to completely change or slightly alter one’s colour type? To sleep one night a beautiful black woman and wake up the next morning a scary make-believe shadow of a faded white woman? Well many things, the most evident is inferiority complex. Just as psychoanalysts argue, the predominant desire or drive in humans is the drum major instinct: the desire to stand out, to be desired, respected and be important. No wonder people can give anything, procure anything or do anything to feed a repressed ego. Somehow due to the colonial nature of our past, the inferiority complex mentality has been so imprinted in our mental skies so deep that somehow we still find ourselves entangled in the maelstrom it often churns up (of course we are always too quick to dismiss this possibility), so we catch ourselves time and time again battling with a self inflicted ideology that tell us deep within that the next girl in white skin is better than we are, no matter who we may be. But the truth is if we are proud of our color, we would not try to change it.

Some others argue that although they don’t approve of outright color change, but bleaching helps in enhancing and improving their skin condition provided they don’t overdo it. Well if the cream you are using is the one you bought from a market or supermarket, you must also remember that cancer does not understand English language. Maybe you are bleaching it to look more funky so you boyfriend or husband will appreciate you the more, then it is sure that he will regard you no better than a leper when eventually you are diagnosed with skin cancer.

While trying to be like the celebrities we see on E! Channel O and instagram, globalization is taking it’s a deadly toll on the Nigerian and African mind. Day after day, we get our minds fed about how inadequate, helpless, useless and spineless we have become but yet we never get tired of being the spineless follow follow we have become. So we try to shed our personality to become a clueless duplicate of some other persons just to feel good. They have brought tattooing and we copied; weavons and human hairs and we are buying, they have brought aids and untold millions are dying, only heaven knows what next they will bring tomorrow.

References: Not happy being black?-Africa.com,  Skin lightening to have fairer lighter skin think again- Dr. Debrajshome, From Skin Lightening to Skin Bleaching–A growing fad amongst Jamaican Youth– Jamaican Researcher, skin bleaching is dangerous – Tinuola Oginni 

Ifeanyi J. Igbokwe writes from ifeanyi.igbokwe@gmail.com


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