Friday, January 21, 2011

Bleaching In Jamaica - Part 2

As a followup to my post earlier this week regarding bleaching in Jamaica, please check out this very informative (though sadly so) video describing my previously mentioned points in greater detail...

This is shocking and painful to watch for me...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Retaliation to Skin Bleaching in Jamaica

The latest controversy on my side of the world is all about West Indians, particularly Jamaicans, bleaching their skin... I'm sorry *correction* ruining their skin. This has become even worse with the advocacy of skin bleaching by major dancehall artistes like Vybz Kartel, who has been bleaching his own skin.

To get a better idea of what I'm talking about, check out this article with pictures:

I'm going to try really hard to be tactful and non-judgmental here, so pardon me if I fail miserably, because I am fuming as I write this.

I am appalled. I am disgusted. And I am also really embarrassed

Appalled that someone who has nothing physically wrong with their skin (other than a clear sense of self-loathing for its colour) would opt to chemically alter it for no reason other than cosmetic. Why would you risk so much when your skin tone is even and your skin is healthy and blemish-free? We're not talking eliminating a couple of sun spots or freckles here, we're talking about drastically changing the appearance of your skin from head to toe!

For those of you that may not know this, dancehall music is most popular with the less fortunate regions of Jamaica as it often depicts the ways of life found in the ghetto where a lot of people don't know or don't want to know any better, where gang life and violence is rife as well as unprotected sex, rape and teenage pregnancy. For many of the young people in these areas, music is an important form of expression and a lot of these youngsters will blindly follow what they are being told in a song without caring or wanting to know about the repercussions of their actions. These are some of many reasons why dancehall music is often under fire and major scrutiny on a global scale, and why many of the dancehall artistes are often banned from performing in places like Europe and the UK because of the strong lyrical content, which can often be violent, degrading to women and homophobic.

I'm disgusted that an artiste of such fame and high caliber would actually advocate such a ridiculously stupid practice to his fan base (many of whom are children and teenagers!) with so little medical knowledge about what is being done. His comparison of white people tanning is so absolutely pathetic, I wonder if he knows how ridiculous, misinformed and uneducated he sounds (and Vybz Kartel is one of the most educated artistes out there, so I've been told). Tanning (when taken to the extreme) is as unhealthy as bleaching, everybody knows that too much exposure to the sun increases your risk of skin cancer as well as the prolonged use of tanning beds and salons. I would also say that exposure to the sun is a natural occurence and is possible without rubbing any additional creams or chemicals on your skin, but with bleaching you are making a conscious decision to do something completely unnatural to your body's chemistry and DNA makeup. To compare the two is completely ignorant. Not to mention, it looks awful

My skin changed naturally and I have gotten comments that I look sick or deathly pale. I can't do anything about something that was not my choice, as much as these comments may bother me. However, if the photo in that article is anything to go by, I would like to think that I look a lot healthier than someone who has made the decision to undergo bleaching their body from head to toe. Does he know the repercussions of ever being in the sun at all after undergoing treatment like this? Not just in the short term but forever?

To each his own may be a fine concept, but when you have a following of so many individuals who will blindly follow what you do and repeat what you say, you have a responsibility to make some smarter decisions about what you preach. Right now, you are basically telling otherwise perfectly healthy people to burn off their skin for absolutely no good reason. As controversial as it may be for me to say this, you are perpetuating the same slave mentality that so many in this world have tried to break away from and rise above.

Vybz Kartel, now that I've seen it for myself, you have embarrassed me. As somebody who never asked for Vitiligo to happen to me or for the emotional and mental distress it brought, and continues to bring into my life and the lives of my family and friends, it is embarrassing to see a fellow West Indian advocating something they know nothing about to young and easily influenced women and children (and some men). It is these types of events and this way of thinking that keeps this region in a "Third World" state and casts a shadow on the way the rest of the world views us, despite the abundance of beauty and wonder that the Caribbean has to offer. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Everytime I think I've got it under control and people have seen enough of me to warrant less ignorance and a little more respect, some toad crawls out from under their rock and makes a totally stupid, indiscreet, completely tactless comment about my skin colour that just makes me so angry by this point. I guess this is partly because of all that I've tried to do in the past year and a half to shed more light on my condition, including hosting the first Walk for Skin in Trinidad, that I'm surprised that such a small country could still have people who haven't paid attention to any of this and opened their minds a little bit.

My partner's neighbour decided the other day to comment to him rather blatantly:

"Aye, we see you bring this white girl home by you sometimes - she's like a vampire man! Where did you find her?"

Which, of course, warranted the string of obscenities my partner couldn't hold back and needless to say, he no longer speaks to his neighbour.

Today, I came home to find a comment on a Facebook photo in which I am tagged (in a friend's album from 2 years ago), where someone I don't know decided to actually press the Submit button and ask:

"Wow!! How is she so white like that?!"

This really rattles my nerves. First of all, because I AM TAGGED in the photo. Which means that you are such a bloody tactless human being that you couldn't even ask your question in a private message to my friend, but instead didn't mind that I saw the extent of your ignorance. Not to mention that were I a weaker person, your comment would make me feel like I was a lesser human being because you felt the need to point out something I have no control over - my skin.

But what really annoys me about these situations is that these are 'my own people', Trinidadians, some of the most ethnically and racially mixed people on earth, making these comments towards ME, one of their own (although admittedly I don't always feel like I belong). Furthermore, sometimes I just wish I could flip the script: how about I call out to a very dark person across the street one day and address them as "Blackie!!" in front of crowds of people? Or how about I comment on a photo about someone's dark skin colour? Do you know how unacceptable (even racist) that would be of me?! 

So how is it any different when it is someone who is "too pale"?! And why do people even feel the need to comment on the obvious? Yes, my skin is white, anyone with half their vision can see that, what contribution did you think you were making to the grand scheme of the world when you chose to point it out?

Answer me that.