Skin whiteners damage people and national dignity
By Fr. Shay Cullen, Mssc
Imagine the scene in a charity clinic where a teenager was brought threatening suicide. Barbara, 17 years old, was crying out in her anguish, beating her clenched fists on the table and screaming, “I can’t live with a face like this, I am better off dead, dead”. She wailed and wept and the nurses could see the cause of her anger and frustration, uneven dark and white blotches had disfigured her face, the result of dangerous toxic skin whitening creams. She wanted to look like a movie star but it all went wrong.
Barbara was persuaded to calm down and get counseling and help to reverse the condition. We have reason to fear and ban the deadly disease-causing products that disfigure young people, who are feeling insecure and inferior because of a darker complexion. With therapy and counseling, Barbara overcame her trauma and was later empowered enough to be an advocate for racial equality. Those products are truly racist for wrongly promoting the white skinned Caucasian as a superior being and by implying everyone else is a lesser human being.
Whatever skin cream you use, be sure that it is non-toxic and not a skin whitener or bleaching agent. The Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned 16 dangerous skin whitening products containing toxic cancer-causing substances. They are suspected of containing high levels of heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, mercury, and arsenic. “Continuous use of these products may cause adverse or allergic reactions that can result to severe or irreversible skin problem”, FDA said last week.
Even worse can happen when the dangerous chemicals are absorbed into the bloodstream and can cause skin cancer, liver, and kidney damage or poisoning. Hydroquinone, a toxic substance is found in many of the skin whitening and bleaching products; they are very dangerous and can disfigure a person’s face over time. (See http://www.preda.org/mailings/mail.cgi/r/preda/732551950078/hronlineph/gmail.com/ and Youtube)
Young people need to be given affirmation and positive re-enforcement and assurances that they are good, valuable, and loved persons irrespective of race, creed, or skin colour. They need a positive self-image based on good character, spiritual values and not based on outward physical appearance and how one looks. They need to accept themselves as they are, not how cosmetic surgical procedures or skin whitening will make them look. It’s what you are as a person, not how you physically look that matters.
They need help to understand that “true face” is based on integrity and comes from their belief in their own inner goodness, their abilities to help others, being unselfish and authentic and having awareness and respect for human rights and dignity.
Having “face” is an important Asian value; it is the respectful self-image, the dignity of a nation, family and the individual. It is supposedly based on a reputation for goodness, honor, and being true to your word. To lose “face” is to be humiliated, have one’s name besmirched and thus to lose the respect of others or be dishonored or diminished in some way. Everybody needs and deserves the respect and dignity due to every person.
The lack of integrity, cheating and lying, and hypocrisy are the common practice in society and among the greatest cheats are those who make false claims and peddle false images of health and beauty. The advertising, fashion, makers of cosmetic products such as skin whiteners and some medical practitioners do the greatest damage. Instead of giving the “face” that comes from spiritual values, they have created a false image of so called “beauty” that is racist and discriminates against all who do not fit that image. We are made in the image and likeness of God, not that concocted by a beautician.
Many years ago, the “beauty” industry chose to promote a particular image or “most desirable face” that others would be urged to imitate. Their principle beauty model of the ideal movie star celebrity image is one that is slim, white-skinned and looks Caucasian. They seemingly set out to develop and exploit a colonial mentality. In the world of fashion, there are exceptions. Cosmetic surgeons and skin whitening makers are raking in billions of dollars around the world from straightening noses, doing face lifts, eye alterations, bleaching skin white and giving other cosmetic enchantment procedures.
Skin whitening products are considered “racist”, they, by their very existence, promote the false, insulting and racist belief that darker skin colour is indicative of an inferior person or lower race or connotes ugly and not attractive. They promote the attitude that “white is right”. It’s a business that destroys the honor of the people and a loss of true “face”, the one that means self respect and personal honor as a people. These products must be roundly denounced and people of all nations must boycott and shun them. firstname.lastname@example.org,www.preda.org. Postal: St. Columbans, Navan, Ireland.
(Fr. Shay’s columns are published in The Universe, The Manila Times, in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)
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