The skin lightening cream business is booming despite its health risks, as women of African and Hispanic descent seek to lighten up their darker hues, a paradox that has plagued people of color seemingly since time immemorial.
Sammy Sosa, the former Chicago Cub, turned heads in November when he showed up at the Latin Grammy Awards ceremony considerably lighter. And a Brooklyn woman recently told The New York Times that she uses skin lightening creams "to be more accepted by society.'' Now, after applying the creams with names like Hyprogel and Fair & White, her skin became so thin that a touch would bruise her face. Her capillaries became visible, and she developed stubborn acne -- all side effects of the prescription-strength steroids in some of the creams, some of which she bought over the counter in beauty supply stores, the story says.
Herein lies the problem: a sociologist said in the article there is a clear connection between skin color and socioeconomic status. "There is prejudice against dark-skinned people, especially women in the so-called marriage market.''
The point was driven home recently with the revelation that Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader, once predicted that Barack Obama could become the country's first black president because he is "light-skinned.''
Sen. Reid's comment was debated by political pundits near and far and was generally agreed upon. Still, people should not put their health at risk to change their natural born features, or buy into stereotypes. A doctor interviewed in the article said the creams ingredients could damage the nervous system.