Parents Gone Wild: Bleaching Children’s Skin:
by Oluseye Igbafe
I heard about this for the first time a year ago at the birthday party of a friend’s child. One of our mutual friends walked up to me and after pleasantries, said to me:
“Sis, your daughter is very pretty oh.”
“Thanks”, I replied.
“What cream do you use for her?” She asked
“Cream?! I use Johnson Baby lotion.”
“Only?! What do you use to bring out her colour?” she persisted.
“I don’t really understand you,” I answered her, “What colour am I bringing out?”
“No oh, you should use something that will bring out her colour. Don’t you know she will be prettier (sic) if she has fair skin?”
I cringed inwardly. All the while, I had struggled to believe she couldn’t possibly be saying what I thought she was saying.
“You mean I should start bleaching her skin? At what age and why would I do such a crazy thing?! It’s not necessary my dear,” I answered her firmly.
“It is oh my big sister. Especially for a girl but not bleaching; haba, not even toning! It’s just to bring out her colour oh and it’s not a sin,” she said. “Even you should bring out your colour more,” she added.
I swallowed my raging retorts and simply said, “I hope you don’t do that for your son? He is way too small to have anything being rubbed on him. I beg of you.”
*Well, since he is naturally fair-skinned, I am just maintaining it, I have been mixing his cream with Movate since he was born,” she replied
I was unable to dissuade her before we got interrupted and I eventually forgot about the conversation. Till about 2 weeks ago.
I walked into a supermarket and saw a heavily bleached woman with three beautiful girls who were looking “toned”. Their faces were conspicuously lighter than the rest of their body and their knees and knuckles were quite dark. Their ages ranged from age 10 to possibly 5.
I then decided to research the concept of parents bleaching their kids and what I found out is that there is indeed a craze for fair-skinned children; and many parents are turning their dark skinned children to fair-skinned. They claim they are helping their kids maintain their “natural skin colour”.
A lady told me it’s not bleaching or toning if it’s done with natural products. She uses Shea butter, Turmeric, Lime/Lemon, Camphor etc. to prepare “natural” soap for her daughter. Another lady recommends mixing their creams with hydrocortisone or clomatrizole creams for a “clear” smooth skin. I was simply shocked.
First, I think this generation has totally gone bunkers with vanity. No, this isn’t vanity, its shallowness of the highest order. I wrote a post last year on Sexualization of Children and though it went viral, I can assure you we are getting worse.
Why does your child need to be fair to be beautiful? What is the correlation? Where did that concept come from? What happened to Black is Beautiful? I believe every child is beautiful and even then the very beautiful ones are not just beautiful because of their skin tone but their facial structure and features.
Secondly, it’s way too early to start enhancing your child’s features to promote beauty. Children should have no vanity issues. Again I say, allow them to be children and do not give them self-esteem issues by acting as though they are not beautiful enough. Tell your children, they are beautiful irrespective of their skin colour or tone. If you as a parent can’t accept them for who they are or what skin tone they have, how do you expect them to grow into confident women who value themselves?
Lastly, do you have any idea the possible side-effects these creams will have on their skin? Rubbing chemicals on their skin for years could possibly be setting them up for skin cancer. I mean, a lot of those creams contain Mercury and hydrocortisone which have been linked to cancer even in adults.
And please do not hide behind, “I only use natural stuff so it’s harmless”. Are those things meant to be rubbed into the skin? Is Turmeric meant to be rubbed into the skin every day? Lime and lemons are acidic and will definitely have their own effect. Camphor?
I know Shea butter is good but your motive should be just to Oil or moisturize their skin to prevent it from dryness. If there is a vanity aim to your “natural method” then you are part of the problem.
Leave your child’s skin alone. Don’t set him or her up for future problems due to your own narrow view of beauty. Personally, I believe parents who bleach or tone their child’s skin should be arrested and prosecuted. It is the height of irresponsibility.
Let’s allow children to be children. Let them know whether they black, brown, yellow or white, they are all beautiful.
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