An award winning media company committed to sharing the perspectives of people of colour from marginalised genders

‘I shouldn’t be demonised for using skin-bleaching creams’

02 Apr 2016

When we think of skin bleaching, we think of people that hate the colour of their skin. Internalised self-hatred, we call it. Skin bleaching is the act of putting a lightening cream on ones skin to lighten the pigmentation and to have the skin turn a lighter shade.

You can usually get creams such as Fair & Lovely behind the counter in everyday stores. When I went abroad it was advertised everywhere, it was on television throughout the day, like a TV advert for breakfast cereal would be here.

My story with skin-lightening creams is different, however. I’m not generally open with it, due to the association that is attached to people that lighten their skin. Contrary to popular belief, I do not want to get lighter – well, I do, but not in the way that many other people who use these creams do.

My story starts with mental health. Back in the early years of discovering my mental health issues, I couldn’t cope with the pain I was feeling on the inside. I turned to cutting myself. I thought self-harm was the answer, because medication had failed me.

Over many years these scars on my arms and legs healed and turned a darker shade on my light brown skin. They stood out and weren’t fading. At first I wasn’t so sure what to do and thought  that since I had done this to myself, I should accept the burden.

I tried to embrace it, and show that it was something that was in my past and wouldn’t get in my way. However, when people see my past scars they treat me differently, they act like I’m still ill, they tiptoe around me. Some people are even just visibly disgusted.

With that said, I decided that it be best to talk to a GP about it all as it was affecting my self-esteem. My general practitioner made a referral for me to see a dermatologist, who I spoke to a month afterwards.

With the help of the dermatologist I was prescribed an approved cream that would help me even out my scars to the rest of my skin tone. After having used this for the last couple of months, I can see a massive difference to how they looked before, compared to now.

I don’t hate myself, nor do I do intend on using them for anything else apart for my self harm scars but I do believe I should be able to continue my life before self-harming consumed me. And if these creams help me, I don’t see why I should be demonised for it.

Get involved with gal-dem’s skin lightening series. Comment, tweet us at @galdemzine using the #skinlighteningseries, or email if you would like to share your experience.