“Who bleaches more, men or women?” Ask anybody this question and the answer you will get is, women.
That might be the obvious answer but you’d be surprised. More on this later.
The notion that being light skin is beautiful is driving many people to bleaching their skin. This is encouraged by cosmetic firms who are at the forefront of advertising and distributing products that will make your skin lighter and marketing firms that will have posters and images of light-skinned women on their merchandise.
According to statistics, this industry rakes in more than $3 billion annually and is expected to grow in the near future. Popular magazines will slightly alter the images of darker women so as to achieve their aim of implying that the lighter the skin the more beautiful you are.
Good examples include Beyonce, India Arie and Lupita Nyongo, who appear much lighter even though they don’t use bleaching or skin-lightening products.
What Began the Rise in Skin Bleaching?
Bleaching is predominant all over the world. However, the practice is more prevalent in regions where a majority of the population are dark skinned.
According to reports from the World Health organization (WHO), bleaching is fast-becoming a problem especially in Africa where it is seen as the norm.
The report indicates that Nigeria leads the pack with 77% of its women bleaching; Togo comes second with 59% while third-placed Senegal has 37% of its women bleaching. Men from these countries account for less than 10% but they are fast-embracing the practice and are doing it though not as openly as women. The BBC also reported that 33% of women in South Africa and 25% in Mali practice skin bleaching.
In the West, black women including Lil Kim, a popular rapper, confirmed to have bleached her skin while Azaelia Banks is a spokesmodel for a skin lightening cream known as “Whitenicious.”
Women Do, But Men Are Catching Up!
Although men don’t bleach as much as women, the number of men using skin-lightening products is on the rise.
Michael Jackson is the most-recognized face when it comes to bleaching in men. At his time, it was unacceptable and he faced ridicule from the society.
However, nowadays men do it and are not ashamed to say so. Vybz Kartel, a famous Jamaican dancehall artist and songwriter underwent skin lightening treatment that saw more men also doing it.
Another celebrity that also bleached his skin was Sammy Sosa, a retired American baseball player.
In Congo, Africa, many men are into skin bleaching and they will openly purchase the products without fear of ridicule or intimidation.
Like women, most men said they use skin lightening creams so as to look more beautiful (in this case handsome) and attract ladies. Others say that their careers influenced them to do this as light skin was viewed as better than darker skin.
This is evident in the film, modeling, and entertainment industries. The rising cases of diseases attributed to using bleaching products have seen governments banning the importation of these skin lightening creams.
Products containing hydroquinone and mercury have been banned in the US, Europe, Asia and in some African countries. Recent bans occurred in Ghana and Ivory Coast as they step-up the war against illegal skin bleaching products.
Although women bleach more than men, there is a rise in number of men embracing skin bleaching.