"In one example, the daughter is told by her father that she is too dark-skinned to ever get a good job and be able to support him"
Professor Lynne Eagle said demand for the product was growing, with more than 60 percent of Indian women reportedly using one of the more than 240 brands of skin lightener available in that country.
Professor Eagle said the product was also easy to find in Australia. "I brought it from two different shops in Townsville within ten minutes' drive of my office," she said.
She said social scientists and marketers had long-known that every culture seemed to value paler skin over darker, but the reasons why were not clear-cut.
It's not just a hang-over from colonialism.
In India and China lighter skin was always associated with a higher caste.
Even in Europe, until Coco Chanel successfully promoted suntans, having a darker skin was associated with being a manual worker and low status.
But she said ads unequivocally linking social and professional success with lighter skin tone presented a moral problem.
"In one example, the daughter is told by her father that she is too dark-skinned to ever get a good job and be able to support him. So she buys some skin-lightener and gets a dream job."
She said that while manufacturers did not create the prejudices that underpin the demand for the product, critics claim the product's marketing helps to sustain the prejudices.
"That's the main issue, the ethics of perpetuating stereotypes of white skin as beautiful."
Professor Eagle said even health concerns didn't stop people using the products.
She said some contained substances such as mercury that were so harmful their sale was banned in the country where they were manufactured. But they were able to be exported to developing countries, and then simply smuggled from their homelands by immigrant populations.
Editor: Skin Lightening Products and Information:
Skin lightening is the process of fading dark areas on the skin. It is popularly termed as skin bleaching and skin whitening. The skin lightening treatment can help lighten suntans and discoloration as well as fade scars. Skin creams work by slowing down the formation of melanin to create a lightening effect on the skin. Skin lightening products are available in many forms. You will find soaps, lotions, creams, gels and even pills to help lighten your skin.
Various Types of Skin Lightening Creams Include:
A study showed that repeated UV exposure was able to induce a long extensive period of pigment formation. The resulted pigmentation spot was able to maintain at an elevated level till Day 20. Clinical subjective evaluations together with combined objective instrument measurements were still important to assess whitening and spot-removing ability of a material due to the instrument limitation for color differentiations. This kind of pigmentation spot model can be used to assess whitening efficacy for whitening or spot-removing products. In addition, the combinations of subjective and objective methods were able to serve as advisable references to assess the whitening efficacy of products - Reference www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19622131
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