Earlier this week, L'Oreal was accused of "whitening" Beyoncé's skin in a haircolor ad, but has since issued a statement: "We highly value our relationship with Ms Knowles. It is categorically untrue that L'Oreal Paris altered Ms Knowles' features or skin tone in the campaign for Feria hair color." But, as Vanessa Walters writes in the Guardian, Beyoncé's "trademark has been very long blonde hair extensions and yes, looking as light as possible. Beyond her endorsements, as a solo artist she has sold many millions of albums and singles worldwide, dwarfing the solo earnings of other members of the Grammy-winning girl group Destiny's Child, who incidentally are much darker." And the truth is, skin bleaching is a huge industry, worldwide. And in many countries — including the U.S. — the dangerous chemicals are legal.The FDA proposed a ban in 2006, but there are still lightening products being sold, many on the black market. (The European Union banned hydroquinone, known to cause leukemia in mice, from cosmetics in 2001. It is sold in the United States as an over-the-counter drug, but with a concentration not exceeding 2 percent.) In Jamaica, blogger Francis Wade writes, "Some… firmly believe that bleached skin is also a sign of beauty." But the hydroquinone in bleaching products can be incredibly damaging. "It's not too hard to pick out someone who has applied these chemicals to their skin," Wade explains. "The color of the epidermis takes on a reddish, purplish tinge and often it has a different tone from skin on the neck, hands and chest." He links to a stomach-turning video in which a woman who has been using bleaching creams "for years" is shown to have very damaged, burned and disfigured skin. Users risk liver and kidney damage as well as skin cancer. Why do people do this to themselves? Vanessa Walters notes: "This legacy of slavery or colonization, where lighter-skinned or white people were given visible privileges over hundreds of years has resulted in societies where the lighter you are, the higher your status socially and economically." She continues:
Advertisers may not be aware of how younger girls are influenced by images of women being airbrushed ever lighter, skinnier, blonder. L'Oreal have denied that their actions were deliberate, but nevertheless yet another message, that the whiter you are the more successful you will be, has been sent.
Mighty White [Guardian] Beyoncé Knowles: L'Oreal Accused Of 'Whitening' Singer In Cosmetics Ad [Guardian] Skin Bleaching [Moving Back To Jamaica] Skin Bleaching [YouTube] Skin-Lightening Cremes Sold On Black Market Have Serious Health Risks [Medical News Today] Earlier: 'White Beauty' Has An Ugly Message