Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

15 January 2014

Cameroon: Beauty At All Cost?

The numerous campaigns organized by government, civil society and health promotion organizations on the dangers of using skin lightening creams and other body lotions seems to be losing its effects as many new initiatives are, with each passing day, coming up presenting lighter skin texture as a determinant feature in black beauty.

In the past, these campaigns made some considerable effects because of the nefarious results observed in the use of lotions most of which were either of dubious origin or were manufactures without respect for required norms and without the necessary opinion of certificated personnel or experts such as dermatologists. Moreover, the devastating effects resulting from the indiscriminate use of these and often exposed in the media through horrifying pictures of deformed skins and other dermatological malformations were serious enough to put many users off this practice.

But few knew how intelligently actors of the industry could draw a fast one on them! Now, it is no longer through the use of lotions and creams that help to obtain lighter skins. Lately, Yaounde and, certainly, a number of other cities around Cameroon have seen the setting up of veritable body lightening clinics of sorts. This time the technique involves injecting some chemical substances into the blood stream which are said to cause the change of the skin colour from the usual black to lighter tones.

The cost of the exercise is still prohibitive for ordinary Cameroonian women and so, for now, it is still an exclusive phenomenon limited to women of the upper rungs of the social ladder. But with the successes the trend is taking, there is little doubt that sooner rather than later this practice is going to be the must-do for women unsatisfied by what God gave them as skin colour.

Already, the practice is creating some social problems as parents or relatives can no longer recognize their loved ones because of the sudden change in their skin colour. The medical authorities are still to make any pronouncement on the practice but even before they do, there is every reason to condemn the practice because some insiders of the practice and critics say the products used are known to have been banned in a number of foreign countries.

So, our country can only be a dumping ground. But the question now is whether our women must seek beauty even against God's will who alone knows why he made mankind to take various skin colours. Are they also undermining the clear nefarious medical effects this practice will bring along?

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