DSTV recently aired a program with the title “Make me whiter”
This aroused my interest and prompted me to write an article on the topic, not wishing to discriminate against any race group but more likely to focus on those who are keen to follow current trends.
Skin colour is the most noticeable physical characteristic of people and early members of the genus “homo sapiens” evolved darkly pigmented skins.
Europeans do not look much like those folk 8000 years ago and their skin colour today may be attributed to the blending of 3 ancient populations.
The colour of our ancestors is rather obscure, and would need massive research to arrive at answers. However, we can assume that Neanderthal men and women were pretty dark skinned due to constantly being exposed to the elements which dominated their lifestyles. Many human migrations too would have had an impact on changing skin colour.
Just to mention at this point, that unique cells in our skin produce melanin the pigment which basically determines ones colour.
Exposure to ultraviolet rays increases this production as a protective mechanism, the outcome being the development of a sun tan.
During the 1950’s and 1960’s, despite the damage being done, a dark tan was most fashionable and almost became a status symbol as the common herd mimicked those of celebratory who lolled around on luxury yachts in exotic parts of the world ending up as bronzed goddesses, or so they thought !
But back to this week’s topic; skin lightening. There is no reason why being lighter should be preferable to others skin colour. In fact the darker skins age far better than their paler counterparts, have an attractive glow to the skin and far better protection from sun related skin diseases.
However a massive industry grew to accommodate the desire to be lighter. Hydroquinone, a dangerous skin lightening agent, permanently ruined many African skins in the past, now fortunately a banned product in many countries.
In terms of the Indian community, many feel that those being lighter are putting abnormal stress on the perception that “paler is better” which may even cause divisions in society.
There is no doubt that “colourless” models are getting the best photo opportunities in the beauty industry and that the top roles in Bollywood go to those of a lighter hue.
It is indeed a crazy world – many black people wish to be lighter and whites desire more colour. If the latter is the case, MATSIMELA has a marvellous bronzing product giving the desired natural tan, safe to use thereby avoiding the damaging effects of baking in the sun.