Monday, September 24, 2012

"Ban The Tan" And "Preach No Bleach"

After I wrote about melanoma around the world and mentioned skin-whitening being a trend in Asian countries, I posted this on my Facebook page and on Melanoma Prayer Center:

"I've learned that while Caucasians value "tan" skin (though we're working to change that), women in Africa and Asia are being taught more and more to value "white" skin and are bleaching their skin with products that contain mercury, which is illegal, and some products contain ingredients that destroy their skin's melanin. People, learn to love and protect the skin you're IN, whatever color God gave it. Don't tan it and don't bleach it. Each are ways to kill yourself. Work to "ban the tan" and work to "preach no bleach"."

My blog post had focused on Asian women, but while researching it I found this article featuring Ajuma Nasenyana, a beautiful Kenyan model, and she discusses the same pressure faced among African women. It turns out, though, that there are pressures on women of ALL darker ethnicities and skin colors to be lighter and whiter.

I've been around 53 years and I'm used to women never being satisfied with their hair. If it's not the color, it's the texture, or the curl-factor or lack thereof, or the length. Something is never like we like it and we'll pay good money to straighten God out. In my case, I would be happy to have just one strand, one strand, do like I want it to. Each strand of my hair goes directly to its own brain cell and does what it wants. I gave up fussing and mussing years ago. I keep it washed and combed and it stays on my head. That's the deal.

But our skin color, also God-given, needs to be tamper-proof. We've, ALL, really got to love the skin we're IN and not alter its color. Now, I know I suntanned in my younger years but I really was never trying to accomplish changing my skin color. I usually fell asleep in the sun and that warm nap is what I liked! I did accomplish "tan." Often a very dark tan, but that wasn't my goal. That nice nap was my goal. That tan was a side-effect (and, yes, I did get compliments on it). Melanoma was the end result. Rats.

Melanoma is the end result many of us are facing no matter when, or how, we have altered our skin color. People, like me, who suntanned in our teens and are now in our 40s, 50s, 60s, and even 70s, 80s, and 90s are being diagnosed with melanoma. The skin doesn't forget or forgive and tanned skin is damaged skin. People who are now in their teens, 20s, and 30s, who frequent tanning beds are being diagnosed with melanoma. From what I'm seeing, theirs is particularly nasty and aggressive. People who suntan don't necessarily go to tanning beds, BUT, people who use tanning beds often suntan as well. People of ALL skin colors get out in the sun. People of ALL skin colors use tanning beds. And, people of ALL skin colors use skin whitening products. However, Caucasians who use these products usually don't use them all over but have dark spots, here and there, that they want whitened. That doesn't mean that sparse usage won't cause them health problems.

BUT, it's people, generally women, with naturally darker skin tones who use skin whiteners/bleaches all over.

This whole concept is new to me, so I'm not going to set myself up as some kind of self-styled expert. I will say that we, in the melanoma community, need to step up our campaign for people, ALL people, to love and protect the God-given skin they're in and not change the color of it by any means or for any reason.

I'm also going to recommend a couple of up-to-date articles about skin whitening:

Are you dying to have white skin?

Skin whitening

Ban the tan and preach no bleach
Simple rules to live and teach.
Love your skin...it's yours for life.
But do it wrong... you'll know strife.

Skin-altering is life-changing.

charis