Every other year Thai cosmetics industries have a blunder or two about their bleaching cream advertisements, members of the public makes some noise, they apologise for being insensitive to black people and only to repeat the same thing a year after. So much for being sorry.
Because the truth is, one can not control everything about other people’s perceptions for certain colour or race however, the affected people have the power to empower one another positively by changing their own habits with consumer goods targeting at them that contribute to degrading stereotypes.
Some Thais and other Asian countries have their obsession with skin whitening so are black people of different nationalities.
I think those that needs reality check on skin bleaching the most are the black people because the advertisement photos did not leave much for imagination. For example, this or the most recent one here:
To put it in context, Nigeria being the nation with the highest number of blacks has the power to do something about this.
For example in the UK, active ingredients in bleaching creams such as steroids and hydroquinone are not available over the counter as they can lead to permanent skin damage. Therefore, bleaching creams containing these ingredients are banned.
In 2007 a couple were fined £70,000 in London for selling bleaching creams containing these ingredients. Not too surprising that the couple are Nigerians.
Aside the fact that it goes beyond any logical reason black people bleach their skin (in this awareness age at least), the banning of the products makes economic sense for the UK because the national health services (NHS) resources can be better used on non self-imposing damage.
In Nigeria, when I was growing up one has to make effort to buy a bleaching cream as the brands were easy to spot. Today, the reverse is true – one has to make effort to read the label (especially for non local products) to avoid bleaching ingredients – they are cheaper, lots of options and the government do not have to contribute towards skin damage of any citizens so responsibility of awareness lies solely on the users.
Last year April at a local resort, after a swim I asked my niece to get a tub of cream (any cream) to avoid going all the way to the room. Twice she came back with a tub that has a significant amount of bleaching agents in it (it was labelled clearly). My sixteen years old niece tried to convince me it was no problem as the ingredients in the cream helps to ‘clear’ blemishes. Well, the third time I just had to get a tub of petroleum jelly and showed her a few photos of damaged skin due to prolonged use of such cream.
Even with NAFDAC doing a good job monitoring, it is almost impossible to change attitude towards bleaching in Nigeria without educating the population on the psychological and physiological effects of skin bleaching.
Just imagine if Nigeria stick to Thai rice, and leave their bleaching cream so they can have sufficient amount all for their own use? That would be the best way to react to the degrading advertisement, next time Thai cosmetics firm would not need to apologise, they can just use two images that truly represent bleaching and non bleaching Thais.