We live in intriguing times. A time when if you dislike your God-given body or colour as a black African, the flexing is: “pamper yourself, just change it”. But should one live blindly to fashion or peer pressure in things that could have serious health ramifications?
It seems like these days, beauty is defined by some as being fair in colour and having vital statistics that scream out in the crowd. For this reason, some women are heading to body sculptors for liposuction procedures and cosmetic shops for creams and tablets that would bleach their skins and even that of their unborn babies.
Ridiculous as it may seem, we have shifted some of the values that define us as dark-skinned beauties and now a new breed of women, by their actions, are boldly claiming that black is no longer beautiful and the work of the master Creator who gave us dark skins to be able to absorb bright sunrays and free vitamin D for 365 days continuously made a mistake? That the DNA inherited from our parents is of no use? The obsession for what some see as ideal body shape and colour is leading them to mortgage their health and natural beauty to a worrying future when old age is bound to catch up one day.
In a Joy News story I read online recently, experts warned women in the country against the growing trend of skin bleaching. The story cautioned pregnant women who were taking Glutathione tablets to bleach the skin of their unborn babies to desist from it. The drug, according to experts, could cause birth defects including damaged internal organs and limbs.
In a chat with Professor Afua Hesse, a Professor of Paediatric Surgery, also the first female Paediatric Surgeon in Ghana and currently the President of Accra Medical College on the subject, she confirmed that tablets used in bleaching the skin of unborn babies, whether steroids or non-steroids, could have detrimental effect on the growing foetus and even interfere with the developmental process during early pregnancy.
The renowned Paediatric Surgeon who did not mince words on the dangers of skin bleaching said, “hydroquinolones, even though used externally, there is some absorption into the mother’s blood and across the placenta.” She continued, “All that could negatively affect the growing foetus”. She was quick to add that though there have been no scientific proof of this in either animals or humans, the warnings against skin bleaching during pregnancy and breastfeeding speak volumes about possible dangers.
The Food and Drugs Authority, (FDA) has also condemned the use of the Glutathione tablets by some pregnant women to purposely change the colour of their unborn babies. The drug is apparently smuggled into the country by individuals and not sold openly.
According to the FDA, the practice by pregnant women who take tablets to purportedly bleach the skins of their unborn babies is fast growing in the country. The question is how do we fight the illicit trade of such tablets when we do not know the source? How do we get our women to stop the practice of skin bleaching knowing the health, social and economic consequences of such practice?
Another worrying phenomenon is the craze by some women to by all means have their bodies re-shaped. These women most of the time go in for body sculptures to reshape their thighs, buttocks, hips, breasts and stomachs to enhance them and make them look curvier. There is nothing wrong for women to go in for liposuction procedures if it is based on a doctor’s recommendation due to serious health implications if not done.
However, there is everything wrong in those women who, due to peer pressure, do not seek qualified persons with the right equipment and facilities for the procedure. The days of quack abortionists comes fresh to mind. We lost and continue to loose young women through unorthodox abortion procedures.
It may be a season for beauty shopping whether in a sculptor’s consulting room or in a cosmetic shop; the truth must be told that no season is permanent. They all have their passing moments. So for those whose craze is to bleach their skin and get curvier, how about when the tables turn and the next season is something other than what they have invested in? Would they run back?
Beauty pageants should begin to penalise women with bleached skins who enter these pageants. At job selections for certain professions, recruiters should disqualify applicants bleaching their skins. We should find ways to get our young women to desist from some such acts.
It is time for serious education on dangers of skin bleaching and needless body sculpturing which are on the increase in our society. Our musicians, play writers, actors, comedians, and concert parties should shout at the roof tops and bring home to our women the ills of the unnecessary beauty craze race which experts say are on the increase in our country.
Our young women should think more beyond momentary beauty and dwell more on perpetual beauty so they can teach it to their children and grandchildren. They would be role models in their families, communities and nation. A proper example should be set now for the next generation.
…with Vicky WIREKO
Writer’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org