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The Perception of Beauty-Skin Bleaching

Abstract

Human life is affected by a plethora of factors which end up shaping the perception of human beings towards certain aspects of life. Our daily activities, visions and aspirations are influenced by some of these factors which determine who we are. It is clear that everyone’s life is a derivative of a given function in life ranging from natural and artificial factors. Among these factors is media which has for a very time considered as a social institution which affects human life both negatively and positively. Like a coin, media has two faces. As one of the pillars of democracy, media has immense ability of affecting the society. Many values and ethics have been promoted by media for a very long period of time. There are countless personalities throughout history who have thrilled in various spheres of life as a result of media effect. On the other hand, media has been blamed for promoting unethical behavior and vices in the society. Mischievous conducts like sexual immorality, drug abuse, eating disorders and violence have been closely linked to media effect throughout history. Media is therefore a powerful tool that shapes the direction of the society (Gunter & Wykes, 2005). It has affected the manner in which people perceive beauty in terms of ways of competing with social changes like fashion and season. There are a multitude of programs in print and broadcast media depicting beauty in both men and women. This paper explores the role of media in promoting skin bleaching to be perceived as a good thing in our society today.

Introduction

The natural appearance of a person plays a significant role in defining beauty in both men and women. As a result many people aim at improving their physical appearance through any available means and procedures to meet the standards and demands of the world. Although dressing has always been considered in describing beauty, a trend has emerged where people concentrate on improving and modifying their natural appearance in order to win beauty titles and crowns. It is quite amazing that some of these methods have long term effects on victims, a factor which has been overshadowed by society demand. Consequently, people have been influenced to accept some of these practices as the most preferred and highly recommended. One of these aspects of beauty which is perceived as good is skin bleaching which continues to affect thousands of victims in the world. It is believed that media has significantly promoted this culture by portraying as the most appropriate approach of becoming a beauty icon in the entire world (Wallace, 2007). There have been cases of people developing skin cancer, emanating from skin bleaching accompanied with a wide array of other harmful factors.

The skin is the largest body organ in terms of surface area. As the outer covering of the body, many people have the interest of maintaining its standards through various means including change of color. Skin bleaching is also referred to as skin lightening or skin whitening and it involves the use of chemicals like cosmetics to lighten or whiten the skin. It has become a common trend among many people in the world including both black and white people. The practice has also been associated with prominent personalities like musicians who bleach parts of their bodies portraying a mixture of colors with a good example being the late Michael Jackson. Skin bleaching has turned out to one of the most controversial topics in the history of humanity. It has been criticized by many people of its fatal effects which continue to affect the health of millions of people around the globe. It also has negative impact on issues of racial supremacy, identity and colonial mentality. Skin whitening makes individuals not to appreciate who they are with regard to originality and background, making it hard to embrace personal identity. Despite the negative effects of skin bleaching, many people still view it as a good practiced which should be accepted in the entire society. Despite this perception, skin whitening has received sharp criticism (Wallace, 2007). A midst this controversy blames indicate that media has played a major role in portraying skin bleaching as an acceptable behavior without considering countless negative effects it has on victims.

Statement of need

According to this research, controversy has always surrounded the role of skin bleaching in beauty. Many medical experts and dermatologists argue that skin whitening has more than fatal effects on human health. It has also been noted that the practice is closely associated with the media industry. As result, this research is aimed at establishing the role of media in portraying skin whitening as an acceptable practice.

Research questions

  • What are the negative effects of skin bleaching?
  • How does media portray skin bleaching?
  • How does media promote skin bleaching?

Literature review

Skin-bleaching is one the most discussed topics with regard to human health in a contemporary society. Because of the emergence of manifold skin chemicals and concoctions, there has been increased focus on the negative effects of skin bleaching together with its relationship to media. Many researchers, medical experts and other analysts have invested their time and resources in unraveling the truth that lies behind skin whitening. This researched information has become quite resourceful for academic purposes and in educating the general public on the negative effects of skin bleaching. Thousands of books, journals and other research articles have been authored and published to create awareness in the entire word. This research used some of these authentic resources in gathering relevant information as directed by the research statement and questions.

According to Groot, Nater and Weyland, skin bleaching has become a common practice in the society with both men and women adopting it. As argued by the three experts, the chemical composition of many cosmetics used in skin whitening expose users to countless side effects some of which are fatal whereas others are considerably very costly in terms of medication. There are thousands of skin creams which are usually sold across counters without any formal prescription from a medical practitioner. Although most of these cosmetics are usually intended to correct small parts and marks on the body, many users choose to apply on the entire body thus exposing the entire body to the risk of being affected (Groot, Nater & Weyland, 1994). Almost every skin cream contains active ingredients some of are very dangerous to human skin and the general health. Some of these ingredients noted by Groot, Nater and Weyland include but not limited to mercury, hydroquinone and Alpha hydroxyl acids.

Mercury has always been known to be quite dangerous. As one of the active ingredients of common skin creams, users have higher chances of developing neurological problems. The concern a bout mercury has been so significant forcing some states like Minnesota to outlaw some of the cosmetics which intentionally feature mercury like skin lighteners. It is quite alarming that some shops store skin creams for bleaching which have high concentration of mercury. In addition, hydroquinone is found in many skin–bleaching agents. This component is also found in movie generating products which usually present human body as a mere work of art. Hydroquinone is known to expose users to cancerous risks. Alpha hydroxyl acids are common in facial cosmetics which have to be used under professional guidelines. It is known to scorch the skin if wrongly applied (Groot, Nater & Weyland, 1994).

What is obvious is the fact that skin-bleaching has highly rated negative effects with several recorded cancer cases resulting from skin whitening. Many people around the world do understand the negative effects of the negative effects of skin-bleaching. With this information, many questions have revolved around the main reason why people prefer skin even with conclusive coverage on the harmful effects of skin bleaching. It has been found out that there are manifold push and pull factors which significantly contribute to the acceptance of skin whitening as away of becoming more beautiful. A lot of pressure has been witnessed from the media with health experts and other sociologist arguing that media cannot be excused in the understanding of the major promoters of skin-bleaching.

Research findings

Skin bleaching is common in almost every country in the world. According to this research media including television and radio programs, print media and film production promote the use of skin creams with the purpose of whitening or bleaching the skin. Many people have known media spheres like television and radio as sources of important information. Children and young people find it easier to access this information through lined up programs. As trusted sources of information many people accept what is aired through adverts and announcements. As portrayed by media, many people who bleach their skins are considered more successful. Additionally, such people are presented as stars with massive influence in the society. Print media encourage the use of skin creams through misleading adverts and interactive coverage. Another way through which the media promotes skin bleaching is via the internet. A lot of information carried by these channels do not embrace natural skin color and beauty. They lay emphasis on the need of having artificially modified skin rather than maintaining original skin color and beauty.

Discussion

Beauty and beauty competitions has remained a very captivating event in the world especially in the current generation. A lot of pride is attached to beauty icons with many people discovering ways and means of becoming world beauty stars. This has led to the adoption of skin-bleaching as the simplest way of gaining beauty in both men and women. These efforts from every corner of the have however been augmented by the media which has continually portrayed skin bleaching as a safe and acceptable way of improving the quality of the skin without necessarily considering the negative effects of the practice. Media portrays lighter skinned people to be more successful, sexually desirable and intelligent compared to naturally colored people. This puts Asians and Africans at a higher risk than any other minority group in the world. Many industries manufacture these cosmetics with these minority groups being their market target. They later use media, through adverts, announcements and programs to promote these cosmetics (Gunter & Wykes, 2005).

Another way through which media promotes skin bleaching is by the manner it features women and female images. Almost every advert on television or in commercial magazines carry women images with exports body parts. It is believed that these images sell almost everything ranging from automobiles, food and even air tickets. By using lighter-skinned figures to market highly valued products, the general public has always been deceived that the only way to succeed and become famous is by gaining artificial beauty by using creams and other dangerous cosmetics. There are thousands of film actors and actress who are becoming younger as a result of skin creams. There are millions of articles in magazines urging people especially women to improve their skin tone and texture by use of chemicals some of which are well known to harm users (Al-Saleh et al., 1997).

Media further features bleached people as celebrities with the power to command a section of people or authority. There have been cases of light-skinned personalities being favored in discos where some are allowed to enter parties without payment. This presents them to be more superior to dark-skinned people thus promoting the use of cosmetics with an intention changing the natural beauty of the skin. Other cases where skin-bleaching has been promoted is on YouTube shows where dark-men turn into celebrities and famous personalities likened by ladies after whitening their skins (Alonso, 2007). This portrays light-skinned people to be favorable and better compared to dark ones who are seen to be inferior and unsuccessful. Reports indicate that skin bleaching has been on the increase in Africa with some countries like Ghana banning the practice in vain. It is clear that many people have been filled with the appreciation of lighter-skinned people as the most preferred.

The growth in information technology has further contributed to the promotion of skin-bleaching as an acceptable culture. How many people are currently connected via the internet? It is clear that the world has become a global village with access of information calling for the click of the mouse alone. There is a lot of information circulating through social networks like Facebook and Myspace all the world with almost a half a billion subscribers on Facebook. This technology has been a key tool in linking cosmetic industries and customers via marketers’ Web sites. Most marketers use celebrities like musicians and other artists in making adverts and comments on these sites in order to capture the attention of many visitors. It becomes hard for the general public to resist a product promoted by a global icon or being recommended by international actors and actresses (Alonso, 2007). These has changed the manner in which beauty is perceived in the society; with enormous attachment being laid upon super personalities.

Many beauty industries and marketers also feature on social networks where internet users get access to customers’ comments or feedback free of charge. However, adverts and announcements via the internet eliminate the assurance from manufacturers and medical experts concerning dosage and the side effects of skin bleaching creams and other chemical (Alonso, 2007). This missing link empower many internet consumers who quickly and blindly use this information without having authentic instructions. It is clear that consumer created content lacks verification and professional evidence and is prone to manipulation to fit the particular selfish ambitions.

Conclusion

Skin bleaching is one of the personal identity aspects affecting several around the globe. It is worth noting that there are healthy and recommended creams which are recommended for skin improvement. However, these have to be prescribed by dermatologists or medical experts in order to avoid drug abuse that may lead to skin bleaching. Although it is ignored by very many people in the world, skin-bleaching is dangerous, fatal and unacceptable. This unacceptable practice has however been promoted by the media by portraying lighter-skinned people to be more successful, influential and favored compared to dark-skinned individuals (Gunter & Wykes, 2005). Among the recommendations based on this research is the need of embracing personal identity. It has to be made clear that skin color has nothing to do with a person’s success and fame. The media also needs to restructure its marketing strategies to avoid misleading the public. Media channels have to be sources of information that is helpful especially in dealing with the issues of skin whitening. Even as these efforts are formulated, there is need emphasize that skin-bleaching is harmful and dangerous to human health in spite of it being portrayed as something good by the media.