Message from the Founder & CEO
In 2017, I summoned up courage and decided to speak up on the silence on one of the most common forms of potentially harmful body modification practices world-wide……SKIN BLEACHING mostly among the blacks. This was when I founded the Beauty in Black Foundation. Black women mostly have been targeted mercilessly and subjected to this practice especially in the low and middle income countries where they have been intentionally and unintentionally exposed to this global threat with little or no recognition even in literature. Yes I have been a victim severally but unintentionally.
The high frequency of cosmetic, non-medical use of skin-lightening products in populations over the world, added to the frequent occurrence of various local and systemic complications, suggest it has become a genuine public health problem. A common practice in Africa especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Caribbean and among mixed and black populations in Europe, this practice is one that affects mostly women and is extremely harmful to health. The impacts are severe but these are largely ignored because of ignorance on the subject fuelled by denial by the users; and a lack of education on this issue by the general population and even specialized medical staff.
Women are the main users of such products as well as men from certain geographical areas. Adult women are mostly interested, with age ranging from late teens to around 50. Children have been occasionally adopted, though there are not enough objective data documenting that.
The World Health Organisation, WHO, has said 77 percent of women in Nigeria use skin-lightening products, the world’s highest percentage. The figure compares with 59 percent in Togo, and 27 percent in Senegal.
Nearly 8 out of 10 Nigerian women bleach their skin. This industry services all parts of the world, particularly low- and middle-income countries despite the various health hazards such as disfigurement.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) report said the reasons for this are varied but most people said they use skin-lighteners because they want “white skin”. The worldwide use of skin-lightening products is driven by an indelible belief that the lighter gradation of skin tone results in more prestige and opportunities. So much so that this belief has led to the growing epidemic of the consumption of skin-lightening products, both within and between racial and ethnic groups. Not only is a lighter skin complexion seen as a form of symbolic capital, it has also been implicated as a sign of attractiveness and desirability, particularly among females. The lighter-skinned women are considered more beautiful and believed to be more successful, intelligent and sexually desirable. It also said it is not only women who are obsessed with bleaching their skins. Some men too are involved in the practice.
It is clearly a societal issue in Nigeria. The practice is very serious because it addresses common concerns about the yearning for beauty.
Skin bleaching has strong impacts on the communities in which it is practiced. High in cost, the practice requires the constant purchase of these sometimes addictive products, thereby reducing the disposable income available to families in which it is practiced. The practice also shapes gendered norms of physical appearance that becomes destructive for young girls. This effect can be seen in the fact that adolescents and younger women have higher rates of skin bleaching than other age groups.
The most devastating impacts of skin bleaching however, are those that relate to the health of the women who use it and their children.
WHO also said skin bleaching comes with hazardous health consequences. The dangers associated with the use of toxic compounds for skin bleaching include, blood cancers such as leukemia and cancers of the liver and kidneys, as well as severe skin conditions, sun damage and body odour. Prolonged use of these above mentioned products for purposes of skin bleaching has been proven to result in the prevalence of the following disorders among users: Hypertension, Diabetes Skin and liver cancers, Kidney failure, Depression, Blindness, poor wound healing, reduced immunity, infertility, various neurological disorders and Obesity. When used by pregnant women, these products also result in: Stillbirths, High rates of neonatal infection, Low birth weight.
These harms extend from the acute or chronic long-term exposure to the often hazardous chemical agents that are present in bleaching products. In addition, the damage from bleaching products notably hydroquinone, mercury, steroids etc.… is often exacerbated when users mix bleaching products with household chemicals such as toothpaste, laundry bleach, detergents and even automotive battery acid, a very common practice in some settings, to try to enhance their effect.
Skin cancer is reported as one of the major causes of death amongst bleachers and therefore it is just a matter of time before we have a full blown epidemic on our hands.
Furthermore the so called and the increasingly emerging organic and natural products to one’s amazement are also now being contaminated by these whitening agents and little wonder the purity of these products cannot even be assured surprisingly. However, this remains an extremely understudied practice.
Skin bleaching is seemingly an important threat to skin safety, but largely remains outside the field of public health and is often not considered in injury prevention efforts.
Skin lightening or bleaching is now a big deal in the Nigerian society. Every human has a desire to feel and be perceived as beautiful, and as such my concerns as medical professional about how to discourage people from it.
It seems like an uphill battle to me–trying to convince the women in my every day’s clinic to stop destroying their beautiful black skin when the colour cards are stacked up against them.
Given the potentially harmful consequences of skin bleaching, the Beauty in Black Foundation aims to fill this gap in the literature by increasing public awareness and offer sustainable solution. Our solutions approach focuses on public education, engagement through capacity development, sustainability campaigns, legislative advocacy, research and evaluation and partnership and collaboration.
It focuses on low cost interventions, relying on self-help and low technologies as well as knowledge of how to examine and care for the skin and the acquisition of the skills required to do so.
Our objectives and programmes are critically informed by the sustainable development goals:
- No poverty
- Good Health and Well being
- Gender equality
- Decent work and economic growth
- Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
- Reduced Inequalities
- Responsible consumption and Production
- Partnerships for the goals.
In Beauty in Black foundation, every woman is seen as an embodiment of potentials beyond what the eye ordinarily see and just like the Rose we are all more than enough.
GAB-OKAFOR CHIDINMA Founder, CEO
The Mission of Beauty in Black Foundation is to protect public health and the environment through widespread public education, capacity development, sustainable campaigns, legislative advocacy, research, partnerships and collaborations on the dangers and health hazards of the toxic chemicals in our daily cosmetics and personal care products....
Our Vision is to achieve the highest degree of self-confidence in all black women in their own natural skin colour without undermining their self-esteem and inner beauty. To promote self confidence through primary prevention of skin bleaching and create an adolescent and youth friendly focused environment and mentored safe spaces to provide opportunities to...
How We Work
The Beauty in Black Foundation is a non-governmental organization that was established to control the spread of skin bleaching and thereby promote the overall image of the black skin. The NGO which is based in Lagos, Nigeria aims to reduce the prevalence and impact of skin whitening through...
Partnership & Collaborations...
We Are All Involved.
The opportunities for partnerships and collaborations are inexhaustive in Beauty in Black Foundation. Our Unique audience comprising of adolescents, women and youths offers so much room for health, social and entrepreneurial opportunities.
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There is a direct connection between beauty and mental health. Are you overwhelmed with the unrealistic standards of beauty in this 21st century? Are you lost, sad , anxious and depressed… instagram.com/p/Bs3DveeHYuW/…
- Olasanoye Ayomiposi Tonia
Thank you doctor for the enlightment, we say #NO TO SKIN BLEACHING #
- Victoria Ugochukwu
It was an interesting training with great positive impact on the society. Thanks so much Dr. Chidinma for such a…
- Rex Georgina
This is an opportunity everyone should take seriously, I am glad i participated in the training
- kosoko Ronke Rahmat
I thank God i took part in the training, I was impacted n fulfiled God bless Beauty in Black Foundation…
- Oyetayo Oyeleke
Indeed it was an eye opening training, I am impacted and now I can boldly say no to skin bleaching.…
- Alejo Adegboyega
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MODEL KHOUDIA DIOP SPEAKS OUT AGAINST SKIN BLEACHING.