Even though skin bleaching or toning is said to be dangerous to the human health, it is still the favourite pastime of some women, particularly female celebrities and youths with the ambition of becoming celebrities – both local and international.

Skin whitening, skin lightening, and skin bleaching refer to the practice of using chemical substances in an attempt to lighten skin tone or provide an even skin complexion by reducing the melanin concentration in the skin. The World Health Organization defines bleaching as the intentional alteration of one’s natural skin colour to one relatively if not substantially, lighter in colour, through the use of chemical skin lighting agents, either manufactured, homemade, or the combination of the two.

Everyone, regardless of being a man or woman, wants to have a flawless, smooth-skin tone. Skin bleaching is perceived to be a good option to give one that flawless touch, but the process is not free from side effects. Some of the products are rather very harmful and cause skin cancer too.

Through movies, beauty pageants, modelling, fashion, magazines and TV, bleaching (skin whitening) is promote as a benchmark for beauty. Something the youth of today are copying blindly.

According to the 2005 Ghana Health service report, approximately 30% of Ghanaian women and 5% of Ghanaian men were actively bleaching. This statistic has shot-up, and currently 50%- 60% of adult Ghanaian women are currently or have at one time or the other actively used bleaching agents.

Several chemicals have been shown to be effective in skin whitening, while some have proven to be toxic or have questionable safety profiles, adding to the controversy surrounding their use and impacts on certain ethnic groups

The 3 Northern regions which covers the biggest part of Ghana geographically is one of active rising area of bleaching in Ghana 30%- 50% of adults Northern women are currently or have at one time or the other actively used bleaching agents. Bleaching in the 3 Northern regions of Ghana has become a misconstrued new way of civilization in their societies.

Not even the popular saying ‘Black is beautiful’ has worked on the minds of most youth who decide to bleach their skin.

Out of 6 young ladies on the street of Tamale Wa and Bolgatanga 3 has actively bleach, 2 is actively using a bleaching agent living only 1 out of six ladies who is not indulging in the act. And it is perceived to give them a good status in their group, family and society. Some men are also believed to prefer light skin ladies to those dark in complexion the reason some women bleach. But what will it profit a woman to bleach her skin for a man? If the act comes with a lot of side effects that can even destroy the reason you indulge in it.

The greatest victim of skin bleaching was the late Pop star, Michael Jackson who met his premature and untimely death. Reports indicated that the Pop star had the upper layer of his skin peeled off, destroying his skin ability to produce melanin that protects the skin against ultra-violent rays and exposes the skin to blood cancer such as leukemia and cancer of the liver and kidney.

There have been several calls for women to put a stop to bleaching and be grateful for their God-given skin colours, but all that seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

Currently, Ama K. Abebrese, a presenter on a local television station, and also an actress has added her voice to the anti-bleaching campaign. Together with Nana Ama Mcbrown, Paulina Oduro, and Hamamat supporting my foundation (IK foundation) calling on women to love their natural skin tone and say no to skin bleaching and skin toning.

This campaign is not to point accusing fingers at those who are bleaching, rather to let people understand that we all come in different skin tones and we must love and embrace whatever we are blessed with.

Beauty is not defined by only outer looks but the entirety of one’s personality and therefore light skin cannot set the benchmark for beauty.

Love your natural Skin tone Say no to skin bleaching and toning

Irene Konlan

(Miss Afro Tourism & Culture 2015)


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