Friday - - Editor’s Letter - Karen Pasquali Jones Editor kpasqual­i­

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

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