Research Spotlight: "Body image disturbance and skin bleaching"
Tanned vs Untanned Skin
From commercials advertising self-tanners to lightening creams, the “perfect” body is constantly trying to be achieved. However, the exact beauty standards that dominate society vary from country to country. European countries and the United States view tanned skin as more beautiful.
On the other hand, countries in Asia and Southern America often prefer lighter skin and will opt for skin lightening treatments and bleaching products. With the popular use of these products, researchers speculate about the exact repercussions of skin lightening, exploring the social and emotional aspects of the whitening products in a recent study.
This study was conducted in Jamaica, where lighter skin is perceived as ideal. 160 participants were selected and half used whitening products to lighten their skin. Each participant then took a survey that asked about their body confidence and self-esteem.
From the participants’ answers, the researchers found that there was little difference between the body confidence of those who bleached and those who didn’t bleach their skin. Forty-eight percent of the participants who bleached their skin reported acne and bumps as issues but did not report an issue with their skin color.
Perception of Social Benefits
Those who bleached their skin did so for the social and personal benefits of the practice, reporting that they benefited in their day-to-day interactions in society. A small portion of the skin bleachers (16%) bleached their skin as a result of their own emotional distress.
This study revealed that skin-bleachers did not have self-esteem issues but the research also suggested that skin lightening reflected the participant’s beauty standards. Though more research is being conducted to explore the complex facets of skin and body image, the study suggests that skin-lightening habits are based on social benefits rather than personal lack of self-esteem.