Snow white and the seven dwarfs is one of the oldest fairy tales being told, and yet no one seems to mind the problematic notion of skin color and its connection to beauty that this story makes. Countless cartoons and movies have been made on Snow white, and the derivative stories, and each one is being told and taught to the impressionable youth.
Then comes the influence of colonialism, and the characteristic white European skin. The hierarchy established was white skin color is superior to all. And the world is still reeling from its shock.
The question arises in many people’s mind is why is that so problematic? Why can’t people desire fairer complexion, much like they desire a pretty dress and an expensive car. And while that’s fair enough –no pun intended—a pretty dress and striving for better car do not endanger your body, increase risk for cancer and lead to mercury poisoning.
The Dark Side Of Skin Whitening
Bleaching, whitening, lightening, all are phenomenon used to describe changing the skin color from dark to fairer. They work by decreasing melanin in the skin, the pigment that gives it dark color. It this endeavor, people end up using harmful products that then has them rushing to the Best dermatologist in Islamabad.
Skin whitening products are full of dangerous chemicals like hydroquinone, corticosteroids and mercury. Possible complication of skin whitening include:
Banned in most developed countries, mercury is extremely dangerous for the skin, and yet used in whitening products. Side-effects of mercury toxicity include lethargy, hypertension, numbness, light sensitivity.
It gravely affects the nervous system, leading to memory loss, mood problems and even tremors. Mercury poisoning can also lead to kidney failure.
This results when the skin reacts to the products present in the bleach and whitening creams. Other than inflammation of the skin, dermatitis results in redness and formation of ulcers. Skin becomes dry and flaky, swelling and itching of the skin also ensue.
Moreover, people can also have blisters on their skin alongside superficial burns and tenderness of the skin.
This condition occurs when corticosteroid is present in the lightening product. It thus leads to acne on the chest, back etc. Its symptoms include white and black heads, zit- like acne bumps that can also cause scarring, and some acne bumps are rather painful as well.
In this kidney disorder, the blood vessels to the kidney, responsible for filtering waste, are damaged. Symptoms of nephrotic syndrome include swelling around the eyes and the ankle, fatigue, loss of appetite etc.
Misuse Of Corticosteroid
Alongside acne, abuse of corticosteroid leads to thinning of the skin, which then becomes more vulnerable. It leads to greater chances of skin cancer. And ironically, it causes skin darkening as well.
When used during pregnancy, whitening products can also lead to abnormalities in the newborn baby.
Why Are People Still Using These Products?
While the rationale part of the brain might know and even accept that the use of skin lightening or bleaching is anything but good for it, there are still societal pressures to concede to.
In the micro-level, especially in the Asian context, women who have dark skin are made to feel less beautiful. The fairer counterparts are revered and are taken to be the benchmarks of beauty. This complex about the looks is a big motivator for women, and even men, to use these products regardless of their implications for health.
Everything, from marriage prospects to status in the family is contingent on the color of the skin. The colonial remnant of ‘white is right’ is so deeply entrenched in the mindset of people, that they are willing to break other people’s spirits and endanger their lives but not backdown from the horrible standards.
Moreover, the impact of skin color is not just contained within the household but is much more widespread. According to research, women who are fairer are much more likely to receive shorter prison sentences as opposed to the dark-skinned women.
In interviews, those who have lighter skin color are also perceived as more intelligent than their darker counterparts. Similarly, women whose skin color is fairer are much more likely to get better career opportunities whereas the dark-skinned women have to play a perpetual game of catch-up merely because of their skin tone.
Job market overall tends to respond better to fair skinned women. All of this is despite the fact that color of skin has absolutely no connection with caliber, nature of crime, intellect. If the society is willing to operate at such illogical levels, people also then have to bow down to the flawed logic as well.
So, while rationally, the dangers of skin bleaching outweigh the benefits, which are not even superficial at best, it is ultimately a personal choice. Instead of using products that are dangerous, visit the Best dermatologist in Lahore and talk to them about your predicament and possible options out of it.