Skin Lightening: What I didn’t know about it – BBC Stories
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Skin Lightening: What I didn’t know about it – BBC Stories


“Blick”. “Charcoal face.” “Why would I date someone
I can’t see in the dark?” You feel embarrassed to go and seek
help. I would have lost my life. What? I didn’t know that.
Are you serious? The chemicals in this are illegal? So how are they allowed to sell it?
I’m not surprised. I can’t help but wonder that –
cos it’s little black girls burning their skin off – it’s
not being made a priority at all. I used to just look at
my skin as, like, really dirty. And really… ..ugly. When I first decided to use
bleaching creams was when… I think I was in secondary school
and we’d get changed for PE and they used to comment things like,
“Oh, you’d be so much prettier “if your chest was the
same colour as your face.” “Oh, you’ve got really pretty
features, “even though you’re dark-skinned.” The black boys say that they’d never
date, erm, a blick ting, they’d never date a black girl, they’d only
ever go for a light-skinned girl. “You’re good looking for
a dark-skinned boy.” That’s one that you hear quite a lot. Cos of how dark you are,
when you put make-up on, it’s an opportunity to make
yourself look lighter. That’s what I was told. Welcome to our channel!
Erm, I’m here with… Mariam! Woo! OK so this is the first
video from my… VOICEOVER: I’ve been wanting
to film a video about the topic for a long time… So, yeah, here we go. I’m not saying my mum looks like
Beyonce even though my mum’s like better looking than Beyonce,
OK? But she probably has Beyonce’s skin
tone. My mum bleached her skin. I had family around me
that bleached their skin. I had family around me
that also didn’t. I was in a stage of my life
where I was like really, really, really ruled by insecurity, so I was
quite young, I was about 16, and it was just cos my mum uses those
creams, so I just went down the hall, and I put them on. I just wanted to fit in like
all the other kids, and I wanted to be desirable. I saved up I think £20 for two
weeks, and I went to my local hair shop, and they serve as
a beauty supply, a hair shop, everything. And they literally have these
products out there, so I picked up the toning creams, cos I think
bleaching sounds a bit too harsh. I didn’t read the ingredients,
I just looked at the picture, if the woman was desirable, that’s the kind of colour that I’m
trying to attain. The effects at first was… I describe it at the time as
lovely, like, my skin looked… It was starting to look a lot like
my chest which was a lot lighter. Black people,
we have dark lips, in general. So, obviously against the pale skin,
they really stood out, and they looked purple. They made my skin feel very tingly
and tight, which I expected, for something that changes
the colour of your skin, I expected some kind of
sensation or something. It was actually my auntie who came
to my house, and she was like, “Oh, “what cream are you using?” And
I was like, “Oh, just this cream.” And then she was like, “I think,
it’s not really, like, looking “nice. I think you should stop.” Unless we sit forward. Yeah. This, definitely. Yeah, these two, yeah. This lady. Everybody knows this light skin
lady. This is the woman. What? I didn’t know that.
Are you serious? {an1}THEY ALL SHARE EXPERIENCES AT ONCE This is the pile of products
that we bought on the shelves, that we found on the shop floor. This was a more behind
the counter situation, where we had to ask someone about
if they had any things? And these are the products
that we purchased online. I’m a bit scared…
No, smell it! You have to… No, I’m scared now by it.
That actually hurt my nostrils. I have asthma, I cannot… Well, after smelling that…
Oh, my God! It has to be illegal. I don’t know if this is illegal. I feel like the ones without
any ingredients… Yeah. It’s suspicious. Yeah… So, we’ll put that forward, as well. This placenta one, I’m sorry…
The placenta one, please… You go in there. Yup. Leicester, London,… Nottingham.
When I travel… France… Every single hair shop
sells this stuff. Natural, you know? Yes. Where, where did you…?
This is under the counter. So it’s just a woman who makes… A woman who mixes creams together
and just sells them. And you bought that?
Mm-hm. This was a lady who
approached me after many years trying to lighten
her dark circles under the eyes. She’s an Asian lady. She used
various products over ten years. And, again, you can see how her skin
has become leather-like. Have you ever come into contact with
anyone who’s actually suffered with severe side-effects
from bleaching cream? I have seen quite severe
damage on the skin. It looks almost like
it’s been burnt. There is a danger of foetal damage. {an5}Side effects also include: The skin bleaching market
is getting bigger, and obviously the problem is getting
bigger, as well. We’re off to meet Safi – she is a
woman who used to bleach her skin. She was hospitalised for a couple
of days. It was a spreading infection, so it really could have,
it could have led to death. I think it’s quite brave to actually
talk about something like this, because it’s not something
you hear of all the time. No. To me, it looks like just your
average African… I don’t want to say auntie,
but African woman. Like, it doesn’t look shocking
to me. But I can see, you know when
you can tell somebody bleaches, if that makes sense? Hi! Nice to meet you. I’m Arlene.
Arlene. Mariam. Mariam. Nice to meet you. Lovely meeting you. How are you?
I’m good, thank you. So, how often would you apply
the creams? And how long would you
leave them on for? The cream is every day. Every day. It’s like drugs. It’s like taking drugs,
it’s not easy to tell someone, stop smoking, stop drinking,
stop taking drugs. It’s easy to say, but it’s not
easy for them to stop, you know? Some people need rehab to stop,
some people need a reality check, some people need some incident
to happen into their lives, so that’s how bleaching is. I was treating myself, because I was
so embarrassed to go to the GP. Oh, really? Because, they are going
to ask you, “How did you get this?” They will see that it’s scars
that have been building up. Yeah. You know. When I saw her, she was completely
a white woman. I was shocked, I could not believe it. All her stomach and her hands
were all blisters, and I had to advise her
to go to the doctors. We went to A&E,
and they put her on antibiotics because it was so bad. And she was in hospital for a week,
and she came back home, she was in bed for, like,
about six weeks. I just could not believe
the Trading Standards would
allow these people ..to save sell this product
inside central London? When I went to hospital, I couldn’t
tell anyone I was in hospital
becauseo say, “Oh, she went into hospital
because of her bleaching cream.” When some people asked me,
I’d just say, “Oh, I had hot water
just pourh. I was pouring the kettle
and it dropped. That’s how
I get it on m It sounds stupid! Yeah. If it’s that, I would have get it
all over my feet. You know? You feel embarrassed to go and seek
help. I would have lost my life. Just look at that. See from there to there, and then all that, cuts the skin. All the way from there to there. I used to have my cupboard
in there full with all creams. Waste of money. Waste of time. I didn’t know how dangerous
the chemicals were. It never says the side-effects
or anything. It never says. Of course not.
It says brighten, glow… Don’t want to say, by the way,
you might get boils, you might get cancer. They are not going
to say that. People who sell drugs, right, their mind-set is, you have to
make this money, it is what it is. You’ve got to make this money.
Providing a service. It doesn’t matter that they’re
feeding someone’s habit or addiction. Potentially, the person
who takes that will go home and die. They don’t care, because they just
need to have that ruthless mind-set. I feel like the people who sell
these creams think, well, they’re going to get it from somewhere,
they might as well get it from me?
I’vey. I think maybe a lot of light-skinned
people and, you know, will hear this conversation
and think it’s an attack. It’s not an attack. For me to assume that being
light-skinned would solve all my problems is stupid. Yes, there’s
the privilege there. Definitely. Doesn’t mean that your life
isn’t hard and you don’t have
to work for wha How do the shops get away with
selling it if it’s that illegal? I just don’t understand. I just can’t help but wonder that
if it was, like, white girls, or something, from somewhere else,
it might be on the news! Like, “White girl buys a cream,
and it burns her skin off.” And it would make the news,
and then it would be like this, then it would be all these protests,
do you know what I mean? But because it’s little black girls
burning their skin off, ashamed to even say,
or even when they do say something, it’s like, not much is happening. I can’t help but think that is
a reason why things… It’s not being made a priority at all. It was thought of that Trading
Standards would be picking on particular demographic,
and it was thought, “Oh, OK, this is a community thing.” It wasn’t that they didn’t care, it was that they didn’t want to
look like they were stepping into a particular ethnic area of stores,
for want of a better phrase. I think that’s changed,
to a large degree. I mean, my approach has been that
it’s a criminal activity, people are making excess money out
of a criminal activity, and it’s something that’s
ripe for enforcement. Like, you go to a food store,
like a chicken and chip shop and there’s mice droppings, whatever,
they don’t reach the hygiene safety standards, you close them down,
and that eradicates the problem. I think that’s an interesting
way of using the law. At the moment there
isn’t specific legislation, like closure audits that you can
do with a food product. People are getting suspended
sentences but it would be really, really useful if there were clear guidelines that we can go to
court… We can also say to businesses,
if you do this, and you’re this size, this business, you might get £100,000 fine,
£200,000. Cos that would just
take away the incentive. There are lot of vulnerable, naive,
uninformed consumers like myself. Like myself. And it’s like, you know, that’s why the people with the most
power, like, you guys might get the fingers pointed at you,
because you hold the most power, you know, like,
you can really make the difference. Especially when we’re being told
by the media, told by our friends, internalising all these negative
ideologies about having dark skin. You know, like, we can’t be blamed! I think the fear factor needs
to really hit into retailers and distributors,
wholesalers and manufacturers, and I think at the moment,
as you have expressed, the fear factor isn’t there for
a lot of people. I’ve never seen a poster
or even a warning or not even like a little
YouTube advert, you know they got those annoying adverts
before you want to watch a video. The creams don’t even state
the illegal substances on it so it seems like you’re buying
a regular cream. Yeah. Not knowing you’re harming
yourself. Do you feel like more could be done
to publicise the dangers? Do you know what I mean? Yes.
For the consumer. Yeah. I think more could be done. So, do we decide what we like, or does society tell us
what we should like? I’ve had to learn to, like,
love myself despite what
other people People should just, like,
be grateful for who they are, what they are and love themselves,
no matter what. Just love your skin, cos you’re
beautiful, just the way you are. The other day, the sun was shining, and I took a snap and the sun was
like beating against my skin, and it looked beautiful, like,
melted chocolate butter, and everyone was complimenting me,
like, your skin looks really nice. I’m a lot more confident in myself,
and in my skin. I love my skin. I think it’s just
such a privilege to be black. And everybody should feel privileged
to be born the way they are. When we celebrate our blackness,
we’re not anti-white. Or anti-Asian. We are just
pro pro pro pro pro times ten black. I can’t wait to go on holiday
and be tanned. I love even being darker,
and glowing. Honestly, like, it’s
just my favourite thing about me. I love it. Oh. Sorry. I love my skin so much. But my hand’s dry,
oh, my God, Lord! Oh, wow! Define, define cool! Actually, it’s dying in the back… You know, this could be
like a red carpet look, like, you know, these days anything goes. Yeah.

100 Comments

  • MacKenzie Karsonovich

    Being so pale that I’m basically transparent I’ve always thought girls with dark skin had such beautiful complexions. (Without make up you can clearly see my insane dark circles and any acne I have is just so obvious against the mayo lol) It makes me so sad that these beautiful people have been tricked into thinking being dark is ugly. It just ain’t true

  • eleda edumers

    Nothing is better than to be you, Natural as the God eledua created you, no man has ever cheated nature, love yourself, I love me black, berry, charcoal, dark, bronze, gold, is who i am and am happy, my God the creator is the father and mother of Melanin thank you God for creating me and am HAPPY FOR WHOM I BECOME. I will never change my skin color just to be Hip, financial, economics, or environmental reason because I love me dark, black, like a night sky, because thats who I am and thank God for me. I love Me I mean me dark skinned. your self esteem must have been very low to even think of changing your skin color.

  • cookie22100

    I can tell you one thing, with the way this earth is going to shit with pollution, were all going to wish we had dark skin. The sun is not turning down for anyone. ☀️🔆🌞

  • Donald Trump

    So they "hooked" you by talking about trying to make your black skin whiter. . . then, it just turned out, illegal stuff that you shouldn't use regardless of your skin color. Thanks!

  • Latoyia Braswell

    I've thought a bit about using the lightening product, but was afraid of something happening to my skin. This video just helped me remove the thoughts of using the product completely. Thank you Lord

  • Mercedes Shiro

    Stop trying to change yourself to be look like some one else is not possible. Be your self, your unique. Be proud of who you are coz non is like you. God created you in his own image and he created you Beautiful. Beauty comes from inside you and reflect the outside. Beauty is Love, confidence, kindness, humbleness, gentleness, goodness, selfcontrol, faithfulness, Joy, peace, holyness.. get to who you are and your purpose and you will love yourself and never compare yourself.

  • isis odonis

    Jackie 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥All these girls are beautiful. WTF Mercury cause cancer. A lot of these skin issue ( darkness around the eyes) are allergic reactions and diet.

  • miranda's world

    why would these black girls go into other black people shops and secretly film them and get their own black people into trouble? black people have enough problems without their own black people snitching on them its pathetic and very typical unfortunately

  • Pony

    Really like this video. And this warning about bleaching products should be spread all over the world. I live in Panama and I think I have seen those kind of dangerous creams. Government should be more involved in this topic, because this is a health issue.

  • Doctor Penne

    Why the fuck does this matter. Lol most black celebs are basically white at this point, but hey. See a straight white male put them down cuz you know “diversity”

  • Aqua K

    Couldn't even tell you the shade of my skin, but I was told once by a clown I was too dark for him. Eh?! Say what na?! YTubers, my guy was darker than the dark side of the moon with led lights for teeth! Couldn't even get mad at the hypocrisy. I was in hysterics. Ain't nothing wrong with different shades of chocolate. All blinking gawjus.

  • Julaine Fiasca

    This video is srsly bringing tears to my eyes; these women are so gorgeous just the way they are… so fu ked up.

  • Izzy Meadows

    Isn’t it ironic. Black people wanna be lighter and light skinned ladies wanna look tanned. I spend a fortune on fake tan as do millions of white women. We can’t ever be happy with what we were born with it seems.

  • Jenelle Bad Influence

    Black women will always hate their skin and hair, note how they are always wearing wigs to cover up what grows out of their heads.

  • Fyn Alexander

    Why is it the retailer's fault? Don't like this stuff, don't buy it. Alternatively, go to live in a country where your skin colour is valued instead of living in a western country and then complaining about prejudice.

  • Calvin Royal

    Are they going to address the psychological buy in and damage, clearly apparent in their choice of "European" hair hats. Black men suffer the same colonial instilled self hate, and destruction as black women!

  • Xiyue喜悦

    Lmao I used to go to that African auntie Megs shop 😂😂😂everytime someone was doing my hair I’d glance at the lightening creams every hour or so 😂😂😂like wow so many people be so insecure in their own skin which is sad

  • LoveExhorter

    EVERYBODY is dissatisfied with themselves, some more than others but we all have been guilty of this at sometime in our life. When you learn better, you do, and speak better.

  • Fatimah Rahman

    I am light-skinned and I love tanning to get darker. The pressure from media and advertising is tremendous and relentless! The focus is to diminish our self-esteem so that we spend our money to achieve the unachievable! Nothing you buy in the store can help a person to love themselves! You girls and the other women featured in the film are beautiful. God made us all to be unique. Embrace your color, hair, physical characteristics. Love yourself.

  • sarah boop

    & theres me..who would like to be darker .those young women are stunning, i love their skin tone. This is bad, media n celebs have such a big impact on darker skinned people,Beyonce ,nikki minaj ,etc..even male celebs r doing it.

  • R Mukilan

    But what is wrong with our natural colour .The colour which has been given by nature is the beauty.And even black colour is only good for our health.

  • lebleugg

    I am truly sick of hearing about these black people who hate themselves for being darker than pink. I am sick of their pathetic stories. That mental collective mental illness has infected people in India, Africa, Asia, South America, etc. The majority of the planet is dark skinned. Don't you dark skin people know you have a right to exist. Just like light skinned people have a right to be who they are, so do you. You have a right to exist as you are.

  • Yeetus_Narwhal 0Of

    I just want to know by LIGHTENING YOUR SKIN from DARK to light does it go too washed out tan color, which looks so sicken. Why are you doing that does it help in crease your finances , or does the COMPANY GET THE BIGGER DOLLAR?

  • Drone Ninja

    All Black People, need to know that, before they were considered anything outside of Africa, light skin or whatever, they were African first. Black People, be proud to be Black and peace will follow.

  • Stevie Grant

    Black ppl bleaching
    White ppl tanning
    If u bright white as day black ad night ur beautiful.. u wanna look like lil kim b4 after go for it
    I HEAR UR VUTE 4 A WHITE BOY I TANNED A LIL WHILE BURNT MY SKIN DAMAGED EYES

  • Melissa Smith

    I’m very white, the kind of white that burns, doesn’t tan. I get comments about my skin all the time. Ever since I can remember. “Oh my god you’re so white!” “Wow you must burn all the time” “you look like a ghost” “you’d be so much prettier with a tan” “your skins so white it’s blinding” “you can see her from space” etc etc people put their arm against mine to brag about how tan they are while simultaneously insulting me about my skin.
    Here’s an idea to all you morons that have to put somebody else down to feel better about yourself – shut the fuck up, no one cares about your opinion, you self conscious loser who has to shit on someone else to feel good about yourself.

  • The girl who can’t game

    I honestly wish I could use skin bleaching creams but with my luck I would buy the wrong ones and burn my skin off

  • BetterYouBetterWorld V

    as a light skin male i really dont care i would get with the blackest girl there is if she was pretty, the blacker the better, its too light that i dont like as it happens to me in winter and i look sick

  • DAUGHTER OF KING JESUS

    It's your skin, you're free to chose what you wants to do with it. Just be safe. Nobody but you knows your pain of what damage has been done to your self esteem. But please do it for yourself only, I would hate that you ended up damaging your skin just to please others.
    I read about a woman who's face looked like someone threw acid in her face. She had to wear a black veil.

  • romeo9782

    now heres a beautiful dark girl with beautiful lips why does she want to be white or lighter skin.is it society that encourages you to want to be white does a white girl have that you dont other than skin color?

  • Trump looks like a red Shrimp

    Average African woman? Weave to much makeup and hard to deal with. I rarher get a natural woman i hate weave and makeup. These women are for broke men.

  • Trump looks like a red Shrimp

    Black women are like retarded children you are forced to say they look good yet they dont fell that way unless that weave is in their heads

  • Cory Smith

    I am in 4 th month and i can not believe the changes. I'm so glad I didn't have surgery. I definitely recommend you try. Link w…..whiteonskinwhitening…c

  • Arrow Gaming

    "Why would i date someone i can't see in the dark" me as a brown i get it but why would white poeple say this even someone who is white it's dark there is a reason called dark you can't even see white poeple in the dark so put yourself in their shoes before you talk…racism really needs to be stopped

  • LuxeIslandEvents

    Why do people need other people to validate their looks? Don't you have a mirror? Can't you see that you are beautiful?

  • Robyn Curry

    I'm white,Irish,OK.And all my life I would kill to have your colour,your lips your everything,my earliest memory was watching Rita Marley with bob marley on top of the pops,to me they were the goddesses,and I felt I had no features,especially without makeup.at 16 you know I did two sun beds a day,and the darker I got the more compliments I got.i hate my grey horrible skin, and flat face.its mad,we all want what we don't have,had to get a mole removed cos of the sun beds,i m so stupid.you guys are soooooo stunningly beautifull,jo. Dublin

  • lil meow meow

    Its really gets me how common using bleaching creams are within families. Most of my family are dark skinned and celebrate it so it hurts to see others feeling like their natural skin tone isn't good enough.

  • Lisa Lisa

    Darkskin people are ugly as hell men and woman plus I don't want ugly darkskin kids there's enough of them in the world

  • Linda Jackson

    Just like drugs take them you are killing yourself slowly as long as you have the money just like dying your hair sad Linda j ☮️❤️ ❤️💯 💯💯 💯💯 💯

  • Ajay Dwayne

    Not just dark women but us men to I just learned to deal with it but I’d be lying if I didn’t wanna be light with good hair like Al B sure lol

  • Im not there See ya

    Stupid!! All these girls are SO PRETTY THE COLOR THEY ARE!!! Trust me!! white people look at women of color and do not even think about if they are dark or light!!

  • Eric Baker

    WOW.. My beautiful Nubian Sistas! Wwwwhhyy? Harriet Tubman would roll over and fart in her grave if she saw this! Leave the body altering to becky and stick to natural beauty..😏

  • 2brunhilda

    I used to hate my light skin and freckles. Wer'e never happy! I even had body dysmorphia! There is a lot of pressure on woman!

  • TyraTheTyrant World

    Watching this brings tears to my eyes… I was young when my aunt gave me my first bleaching cream… my mom soon followed after and I refused

  • Layla El

    ‘I love my skin’ yet she can’t wait to go out in the blazing sun which is really bad for your skin and can cause cancer. This documentary just contradicted itself in the last 10seconds.

  • Jason Bellini

    People are going to lighten their skin. People are going to tan their skin. In Asia, Africa, America, Australia and Europe. It's not about asking why, that's a whole different matter, with many, many questions and many, many answers. It's about asking how can we make these products safe for consumers? Read labels people.

  • Happy Queen

    These women are emotionally, physically, mentally and psychologically damaged by the white supremacy society we live in, but still they don't go out on a killing spree or bomb schools for justification of their ordeal. Speaks of another conformation that so called black people must be the real Angels on earth keeping the peace and spreading the love despite of their vile treatment globally.

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