We’re on holiday in Bali and today a lady selling bracelets on the beach compared the colour of her skin to mine. She was suggesting that mine was nicer because it was “beautiful and light” and hers was “too dark”. The irony that I was actually sunbathing to make my skin darker was clearly lost. Needless to say I didn’t agree with her and moved onto which neon thread would look better with which Buddha head.
But it did get me thinking… the first time I saw ‘lightening’ creams in abundance was on arrival in the Middle East about a year ago. It appears all the major brands sell skin lightening products; Dove, Nivea, Oil of Olay… who knew? I remember being taken aback by the scale of this product category.
About one third of the shelf space in the face and body cream section had been allocated to lightening creams. My reaction, went something a little like this:
1. Fascination: Huh. I did not know they sold that. Or them. Or them. Whoah, that’s a lot.
2. Confusion (read ignorance): So who here is lightening their skin? In bulk? This is not just to correct a weird pigmentation blob – this is full body lightening. So who are they targeting?
3. Frustration: So why are those people not happy with the colour of their skin? Aren’t we meant to love the skin we’re in?
4. Sadness: What a shame this product category even exists.
But hold on there black kettle, aren’t I here making my skin darker, on holiday, on purpose? I have been the owner of a can of St Tropez or two in the past – is that not the same thing? Albeit darker? Or is it different if our reasons are different? Anyway, it got me thinking.
And then someone offered me a Bintang.