Normally, I don’t post anything new until Thursday. Once my work deadlines are met, I can return to the calming safety of Afrobella. But I got this in an e mail and I had to share. It seems that the FDA wants to ban the use of over-the-counter skin bleach. I suppose the possible reasons could include the countenance of women like this, who have been applying ointments with high levels of hydroquinone to their skin, in an effort to conform to African standards of “beauty.”
Needless to say, dermatologists are opposing the FDA’s findings. This great article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette illustrates the hot-button issue:
Consumers use the products to self-treat freckles, liver spots, melasma (the so-called mask of pregnancy), and dark marks resulting from acne or burns. Hydroquinone is also one treatment for the pigmentation disorder vitiligo, which leaves white patches on various parts of the body. Doctors prescribe the agent in higher concentrations. Now the FDA is describing hydroquinone as a possible carcinogen, and also saying it has documented links to a skin-disfiguring condition called ochronosis.
The product was banned in South Africa, where advertisements portrayed lighter skin as the key to love and success; some users wound up instead with splotches, grayish spots, pebbly bumps and abnormal thickness. But Dr. Taylor said ochronosis rarely occurs in the United States.
“Most reports have been from Africa after a prolonged period of daily use — sometimes 10 to 40 years — and in high concentrations. In this country, there have been maybe 200 cases out of millions of users. To me, that means it is a very infrequent problem.”
40 years is a hell of a long time to continuously use a product.
Of course skin bleach can help people who are physically disfigured. My mother used it on her legs for years, after a gas stove explosion left her with second degree burns. (That was the scariest noise ever to my then seven-year-old ears). But my issue with these products is the message that millions of women receive: that you need to apply a special cream to your face every day in order to somehow be beautiful, accepted, desired, and successful. That cancer is somehow a negligible concern in the attempt to achieve such superficial goals. Personally, I’ll be glad to see the whitenizers go. It probably won’t do much to change our views on what beautiful is, but I am sure that more women will have to look in the mirror and accept their natural skin color. Hopefully they will be able to see their inner beauty, and embrace themselves for exactly who they are.