This paper looks at the ways Ghanaian people rationalize their use of skin bleaching products. In it, I examine the forces that encourage their manipulation of their physical appearance self-image as well as the psychological and physical effects colorism and skin bleaching has had on the people of Ghana.
The idea of colorism is not new. It is only recently that a name was placed on this ideology and it has been studied as such. Populations of countries such as Ghana have been lightening their skin even before they were exposed to the European ideas of beauty and power. The increase in skin whiting can be attributed to the growth of technology, the mass media, and other ways of communication (Hunter 2011). New forms of communication have exposed people around the world to Western concepts of beauty that they would not have been otherwise exposed to. With their ideas of attractiveness and success, Europeans have taken every step to destroy the image non-whites have of themselves. This has allowed for people in what we consider Third World countries to relate skin color to access of resources and privileges (Hunter 2011). These are the same tactics that have been used around the world by Whites in their pursuit of power over non- whites.
Most beauty advertisements are geared toward women; men still feel the need to lighten their skin. Many dark-skinned people are told by beauty and cosmetic advertisements that their color is repulsive. They are repeatedly told to modify their bodies to fit the White image of beauty. This is not an isolated case in Ghana. The problem with fitting into the White image is that it does not exist (Hunter 2011 and Pierre 2008). The look that Ghanaians are trying to conform to is unrealistic. It is looks that even white women reject, such as when they go to a beach or to a tanning salon in order to darken their skin. This implies that being too light may be just as bad as being too dark. The way someone views one’s skin tone is relative to those around them. A person that see themselves as dark-skin when they are around people that are one or two shades lighter than them, may see the reverse when they around someone that is one or two shades dark than them. Color like racial depends on the space a person is in. Thus, when a person moves from one space to another their perception of themselves changes ( Penha-Lopes) .People such as the Ghanaians who deal with colorism are not just comparing themselves to the White image of beauty they are also comparing themselves to others in their racial group.
Effects of Skin Bleaching on the Body
European ideas of beauty have had a significant effect on Ghana. The Ghanaian people have been convinced to overlook their own standards of beauty. Many of them see themselves as unpleasant looking when compared to Europeans. This mindset is shared by some men and women in Ghana. Those that are dark want to be lighter and those that are lighter skinned want to white. Thus, they are...