Friday, 5 January 2007

Proudly black and unbleached

Bending the story

Sometimes, it is difficult to get at the heart of a story when issues get beclouded by other emotive commentary placed to slant the facts into the subjective.

Take for instance the case of a Nigerian couple that had been fined £100,000 for selling toxic skin lightening creams as reported by the BBC.

All the detail covering the offences, their admission of the charges of flouting medical and safety regulations and the fact that their custodial sentences were suspended and their being disqualified from being company directors for 5 years were part of the news story.

However, how the fact that they are church-going, living in a £725,000 house helps convey the story escapes me, but this is sometimes the journalistic envy that accompanies news stories like this in the UK.

There is always the so-called human interest element that panders to the village rag or tabloid reader and perhaps the Hello/OK aficionado which should look for signs of above average well-being, possible excess and evident success – even if this has meant manipulating the system.

Hydroquinone lightens

In tone blind, which I penned about half a year ago, I noted with interest how skin toning left the knuckles, elbows and knees still darker and the obvious fact that the palm lines never changed their original colour.

However, there is this concept of beauty just like those who suffer from eating disorders to stay slim where certain women of African descent feel their beauty was less so if they were not lighter skinned.

The topical creams which have hydroquinone as the active ingredient and I have seen commercially available creams that contain over 2% are lethal, in fact, almost 20 years ago, I had learnt of the dangers of these bleaching creams but could never convey the importance of the possible damage to users of these toxic substances.

The quest for short-term skin tones at the risk of long-term dermatitis, blood vessel damage and other infections could not be used as a compelling message to desist. In African stores that stock bleaching creams, these products sell probably better than hair extensions and those are hot cakes, if I ever saw anything move.

BBC and names

The BBC had used the family surname for the wife rather than her first name in a construction like looked like this - Oluyemi and her husband flouted medical and safety regulations – she is Mrs Yinka Oluyemi there are enough people of Nigerian descent in the UK that the BBC should not be getting this wrong.

It would appear Mrs Oluyemi was the brains behind the business, trained as a bilingual secretary but ended up creating her line of cosmetics - Yinka Bodyline and Beauty Express Cosmetics, some of which would have contained harmful chemicals and prescription steroids.

The company it would appear has gone into liquidation, however, Nigerians seem to have the kind of resilience to bounce back – I wish them well and hopefully they would return in a less controversial and non-criminal business.

The shame of it all is that the women who use these cosmetics probably never do any research to determine if these quests for lightening pose grave dangers to their health – the Oluyemis just exploited a demand from a clientele to whom James Brown should be singing from the grave – Say It Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud.

Do I have a witness from those beautiful black ladies who are happy to be naturally what their colour is?

References

Couple caught selling poisonous products to African people

Bleaching merchants fined

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