Is Skin Bleaching Beauty Concept or Societal Influence

          Is skin bleaching a matter of personal choice for beauty? or is it related to societal influence on what is beauty? Skin bleaching is practice of using chemical substances in an attempt to lighten skin tone or provide an even skin complexion by reducing the melanin concentration in the skin. For the last few decades, Skin bleaching products have gain a great amount of popularity among people all over the world. Every day million of people like celebrities and others are spending lots amount of money to get ten shades lighter than their natural complexion.The practice of skin bleaching is also widely promoted by mass media perpetuating the idea that fair/lighter skin is more lovable and desirable. It is creating message that beauty is just defined by your skin complexion, making people to desire lighter skin more often.

          In 2005, Emami, Indian biggest bleaching company launched their ‘’fair and handsome’’ bleaching cream casting Bollywood’s biggest star, Shahrukh khan, to endorse the product. It shows a man being hopeless about finding women just because he is dark skin, but then he become more confident and attractive after he applied the fair and handsome cream. Having a star like, Shahrukh khan gave the makers the platform to encourage many audiences to use fairness cream for better future. It was reported in 2010 that ⅔ of Indian women use skin bleaching products, booming the business $400 million worth. Most of these women are choosing to get fair, so they could be able to find a suitable job and partner. In many Bollywood movies, actors/actresses are cast based on the fairness of their skin more than their talent, so if you are dark or dusky your chance of becoming the leading star is small. Instead, you are usually offered negative roles generating the idea that dark people are good for only these kind of characters. These type of movie casting system is enforcing stereotypes and colorism. It also creating the idea that dark skin people are inferior and are not worthy enough to become successful.

          The idea of using skin bleaching to become lighter is not only playing a role in people’s social life, it is also creating negative consequences in emotional and mental level. It is causing children and adults to feel depressed and ugly because they are not seen as someone who is beautiful by their surroundings. They also feel neglected from the society, which brings their self-esteem down. These people feel like the only way they will be truly accepted by the society is if the fit into the beauty standard, so they start to use the bleaching creams without considering its harm and danger. Most people will say that it was their personal choice to become lighter, but they do not realize that their belief is influenced by their community. The society is letting this way of life to get passed by and causing the majority of people suffer for how they were born.

          Skin bleaching and the obsession of fair skin is becoming more problematic in this world because it is  enforcing colorism, racism, and stereotypes in our daily life. It is only creating opportunities and advantages to the people who have lighter/fair skin, while people with darker skin are being denied of those opportunities in many aspects. It is important to promote and make people believe their worth is not determined by the color of their skin.


2 thoughts on “Is Skin Bleaching Beauty Concept or Societal Influence”

  1. I see this happening a lot in other countries and it seems to vary by demographic. For example, it is often more attractive for a person to be tan in the US, and this is why we have tanning salons, tanning sprays, etc. There is also the phrase “tall, dark, and handsome” that describes the stereotypical “ideal” man here in the states. Those who are very pale here are often self conscious about their skin tone and tend to want to be more tan because it is more often seen as a healthful quality than not. All of my pale-skinned friends seem to feel this way. Also of note is the tradition of skin powdering in certain Asian countries that has lasted for hundreds of years. While there is an obvious societal advantage to being fair skinned in certain countries (including this one) as you’ve stated, I would argue that the pressures of having a certain skin color definitely vary based on where you live.


  2. I enjoyed reading this post, because it directly ties into cultural/social constructs. In many minority communities the idea of being fair or light skinned is considered pretty. On the other hand, people that have darker complications are not desired or seen as “pretty.” Growing up, I’ve heard most of my relatives, especially women, talk about their experience with skin bleaching. It’s important to address the effects of colorism in minority communities. In general, colorism or skin stratification is a persistent problem that needs to be discussed more.


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