Editorial | Fairer skin or getting sick?

WOMEN and young girls put a premium on having flawless, white skin as the benchmark to the popular notion of beauty. As testament to our post-colonial mentality, the concept of beauty is having fair skin “with a pinkish glow,” aquiline nose and a very trim, bordering on the anorexic, body type. The internet has further aggravated this as almost any product that is said to enhance one’s beauty can be found on Google.

The obsessive desire to conform to this idea of beauty has driven many young people to change their faces, one of the most popular being Xander Ford aka Marlou Arizala. Abetted by media, the entire country saw the transition of Marlou, a blogger, into the enhanced Xander – after going through multiple cosmetic surgeries. He went under the knife to change his nose, eyebrows, eyelashes, teeth and lips.

How far do we have to go to achieve the beauty that we desire? For many who do not have the support of Xander Ford’s sponsors, using cosmetic products with names we can hardly pronounce is a tempting option. Through the internet, many search the cheapest way to get a fair skin from products made in other countries. They can order the products online or search for these creams and lotions locally.

Eco-Waste, a non-profit watch group tracking poisonous chemicals in products and wastes has found that many skin whiteners considered toxic due to high levels of mercury are on sale in various stores here in Davao. Goree from Pakistan, Jiaoli, S’Zitang and Yu Dan Tang skin whitening products that were previously banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for containing high levels of mercury, which is harmful to our health even in small amounts, are sold in the market.

Eco-Waste, citing information from the World Health Organization, said that mercury in skin lightening products can “damage the nervous, immune and renal systems, cause skin discoloration, rashes, and scarring, and reduce skin resistance to bacterial and fungal infections, as well as contaminate the environment with mercury discharged into the wastewater.”

The group said the sale of mercury-laden cosmetics is a direct violation of Republic Act 9711 (Food and Drug Administration Act) and Republic Act 7394 (Consumer Act of the Philippines).

The Office of the City Mayor, City Health Office, Business Bureau and the Philippine National Police with the FDA Mindanao East Cluster has signified its plan to FDA Headquarters that they will work on the findings. Vigilance in checking the sale of harmful chemicals should be a priority of the agencies concerned. But until we continue to subscribe to a certain idea of beauty, we expect many to patronize products that could only serve to do more harm than good.


Posted in Opinion