IT’S NOT FAIR!
Her face was a mass of burning blisters. They itched, wept and burned, but didn’t hurt asmuch as the shame. Because the 22-year-old student – who is still so embarrassed she wants Friday to use a false name, so let’s call her Rachna – hadn’t been burnt and wasn’t suffering from an abnormal skin condition. The truth was she had been using a cheap whitening cream in a bid to be fairer because she had been conditioned to think that light is right.
Rachna was allergic to some ingredient in the cream and still bears the marks today. But she isn’t alone. Even though she lives in the cosmopolitan city of Dubai, where hundreds of different nationalities happily coexist side by side, her family comes from West Bengal, in India, and they had told Rachna all her life that she wasn’t beautiful or clever enough because of her dark skin. They said her complexion would deter her from finding a husband or success, and so she resorted to smothering her face, arms and shoulders – any millimetre of skin thatwas visible– with the cream in a bid to become paler.
Swathes of the subcontinent, South East Asia and Africa have long associated dark skin with being poor and inferior – because it showed workers had to toil outdoors – while the West reveres a tan as a symbol of wealth as it means you have a disposable income and free time to travel to sunnier climes.
So while the tanning beauty industry has exploded in Europe and the US, whitening creams, endorsed by popular Bollywood celebrities such as Shah Rukh Khan, have almost become de rigueur in India and Pakistan. In a bid to get quicker results – and please families who are putting pressure on daughters to get the best arranged marriages – some women are even injecting themselves with whitening agents that could be toxic and even fatal.
No one should risk their health and life to change the colour of their skin because of skewed cultural beliefs. We expose the dark side of whitening creams and injections in an in-depth report on page 18. Please let me know what you think of the feature and the rest of the issue – I love hearing from you. Until next week,
While the TANNING beauty industry has exploded in Europe and the US, WHITENING creams, endorsed by Bollywood CELEBS such as Shah Rukh Khan ,have almost become DER I GU EUR in India and Pakistan