Sammy Sosa Skin Bleaching | The Dark Side of Skin Whitening
Now that Sammy Sosa has admitted to bleaching his skin perhaps it is time to reveal to all those folks who are not brown skinned a dirty little secret - skin bleaching is super common.
Though I cannot speak for African Americans or Latinos I can talk about how common it is in India.
In India fair skin is a sign of beauty. The darker the skin you have the more unattractive you are. It is deeply ingrained in Indian culture and it simply won't go away.
For example, the Indian focused matrimonial site Shaadi dot com asks people who register to fill in a complexion scale (see photo) ranging from very fair to very dark , with "wheatish" being somewhere in-between - the color question is so routine it seems normal.
Considering that a healthy chunk of the 1 billion plus Indians are well..."swarthy," and considering that there is stigma against being "dark" - the term I am often greeted with by loving but oblivious relatives is "what happened to you, you were such a fair boy now you are so dark?" - it should come as no surpise that the skin whitening and bleaching business is huge in India.
The market leader is a product called Fair and Lovely for women, and for men Fair and Handsome. Take a look at their video advertisements and you will see how blatant this stuff is.
Type in the keyword pharse Fair and Lovely and you get a remarkable 35,600,000 returns, Fair and Handsome ( a comparativley new product lauched likely when the makers realized men were using Fair and Lovely) returns 6,180,000 in Google.
Sales of whiteners increased 17 percent to 20.5 billion rupees ($432 million) in the nine months to September from a year earlier, according to research by Haarlem, Netherlands-based Nielsen Co.
Recently, Fair and Handsome has taken center stage when the biggest movie star in India, Shah Rukh Khan, became a pitchman for the bleaching product.
Recently, various protest groups have emerged to challenge the convention that Fair = Lovely with a Dark and Lovely campaign in Banglore, a city in South India
I suspect it is not just India where you see such products being used. Recent news reports confirm that skin bleaching and whitening products are popular in China, and Europe.
This continuing obessession over skin color is deeply troubling. But perhaps it speaks to a greater human urge - the urge of wanting to be what we are not. So, witness the spectacle of "pale white folks" heading to sunny tropical climates (despite skin cancer concerns) to get the elusive tan, while the people who actually live there retreat to the shade and rub bleach on their skins.
Sammy Sosa is just a drop in the bucket