Saturday, February 25, 2006
A nice little (well, not so little actually) article in the Guardian yesterday on how tanning became popular in Europe.

"...Tanning, according to a widely recounted anecdote, began in 1923, at the moment that Coco Chanel stepped off the Duke of Wellington's yacht at Cannes and into the gaze of the waiting cameras. The designer, the story goes, had spent too long in the sun by accident - but thanks to her status as an arbiter of style, her skin tone was interpreted as a fashion statement. For centuries until then, a pale skin had been the preserve of the moneyed classes; browner shades spoke of outdoor manual labour. It took the development of mass foreign tourism (and, possibly, Chanel's endorsement) before a tanned skin in Britain came to stand for something different: the leisure and wealth to take holidays in sunnier climates. One survey, conducted in 2000, found that almost 50% of Britons holidaying abroad considered coming home with a tan the most important reason for going in the first place..."

I read this with great interest because where I come from face creams (and now, soap) containing bleach or skin whiteners are probably the most popular beauty product for women. One only has to turn on the TV in India or open a magazine and you're literally drowned in skin whitening advertisements. Hindustan Lever Limited's (HLL) "Fair & Lovely" advertisements are a case in point. The advertisements, which clearly associate dark skin with romantic and professional failure, and fair skin with success, had to be taken off air after protests by activists and social groups.

So, what I have to deduce from these phenomenons is that a disatisfaction with one's skin colour can be a universal phenomenon, especially among women. The sad thing is, both tanning and bleaching come with huge health risks. According to the Guardian, In some parts of Britain, skin cancer rates are now higher than in Australia, with Glasgow having the dubious distinction of being the sun bed capital of Great Britain . Tanning is so popular in Britain that some high schools noticed pupils were sneaking out for tanning sessions in their lunchbreaks, so much so, the school authorities started running lessons on how to apply a fake tan instead! But the problem with fake tanning products such as creams, spray-ons etc. is that they end up costing more to use than a regular visit to a sunbed in a tanning salon; they also leave streaks and fade faster and thus not as popular.

The most popular bleaching creams contain 4% hydroquinone, a harsh bleaching agent that can destroy the outer layer of the skin, also because these creams are absorbed by the skin, the toxic products enter the bloodstream, reaching the organs thus creating hormonal disorders and other problems- it's like feeding your body poison.

How much melanoma and skin disfigurement is it going to take before we love the skin we're in?

8 comments:

sruthi said...

aahhh Fair and Lovely...nothing like bleaching your face with peroxides, is there:)that stuff does smell good tho from what i remember!

Lotus Reads said...

LOL, a couple of days ago we were at the Indian store for provisions and I saw a tube of "Fair and Lovely" and pointed it out to my daughter. She wanted to know if Michael Jackson had used that on his face! She meant it in all seriousness! lolol.

Did you ever use "Vicco Turmeric"? I just LOVED that sandalwood fragrance, mmmmmm! Must pick up a tube for myself!

sruthi said...

hahhaah no i never used that but i remember a catchy tune from the commercial that i'm not going to repeat on here cuz it's soooo fobby!:)

Lotus Reads said...

LOL, now you've got me racking my brains trying to recall the jingle - I know the opening lines are "Vicco Turmeric auyervedic cream.... but for the life of me, I can't remember what comes next and maybe that's just as well, huh? :)))

sruthi said...

yea it's "vico turmeric, very ayurvedic, vico turmeric ayurvedic CREAM!!" HAHAHAHAHAHA omigosh i'm cracking up haaa:):)

Kim said...

Incredibly interesting. I will be visiting this site often!

Susan in Italy said...

Well, on the pale side of things, I have to admit to subjecting my pale, pale skin to hours of sun precicely to get a sunburn. A tan was way out of my reach, and the paleness in a swimsuit was just too much for me so I went magenta instead.

Lotus Reads said...

LOL @ magenta!

For an Indian, I'm really quite pale myself and for the last two summers I worked quite hard on getting a tan, but man, I so regret that because with the tan came those nasty character lines - I refuse to use the "w" word! :)