This Bleaching/Cream Dilemma


First of all, tell me my pun wasn’t clever. You know you like that! Yes, my use of “/” was intentional. We’re talking about Bleaching, as in skin bleaching, and you know there’s bleaching cream, BUT we’re also talking talking about Cream, as in hair cream! Hold the applause, I know, I know, it’s a such a simple pun, but its brilliant… Okay, you can applaud a little 🙂

But seriously, if you missed the #AllAngles special hosted by Dionne Jackson-Miller (@djmillerJA) you neeeeed to see it to get the context of the debate that has ensued since airing (June 19, 2013) on TVJ.
You can watch the special here ——> BLEACHING SPECIAL

Since the airing of the programme, a fierce debate has ensued about Bleaching of the skin, versus Creaming of the hair, as now persons are saying that those who ridicule skin bleaching, need to ridicule women who relax their hair or wear weaves as well, because it’s the same thing!
At first, I was like “seriously? Dem really goin’ come wid this?” I was having none of it. My initial comment to a post on Facebook that supported the view that bleaching (skin) and creaming (hair) is pretty much the same was this:

“Yeah u chemically changing something, but the reasons for it in some cases are different. Its not always cuz its perceived to look better, sometimes the hair is too hard to manage for some ladies. I see ur view still, but I don’t think its the same. Bleaching destroys their skin, relaxing doesn’t destroy the hair if cared properly. My two cents. I’m not for or against relaxing still.”

It was soooo ironic, but this argument started on Saturday with my cousin, or some form of it, as our fam was talking about natural hair vs processed hair and this cult exodus so many girls are in right now going back to their roots. Who knew Dionne’s bleaching special would bring the discussion back?

Anywho, I was greeted by the following tweet later on this morning (Jun 20, 2013) by my friend and blogmate Keneice:

I read the post still, and I must say, twas a compelling argument made. You can read it here:
No matter what argument I presented —
1) Creamed hair is easier to manage for those who can’t deal with it being my main one (and not a case where the woman thinks it looks better), or saying 2) “psychological reasons behind each [differ]. Not every black woman thinks natural hair is ugly and therefore it muss cream” I was always met with a counterpoint:
Keneice – “Damage is similar; reasons behind use are similar. For every case there is an exception..few who can’t manage nat hair”
The only one I think I didn’t truly get a good response for was this:
(Still waiting for a good answer for this from somebody!)

I thought about the whole thing though and I’ve come up with my conclusion on the whole matter:
EVERYBODY’S A HYPOCRITE. EVERY. LAST. ONE. *whispers* even me. Don’t tell nobody!
We all have our open stances to some things, and have our minds closed to others. I don’t have a problem with creamed hair, but some women, mostly those from the naturalist cult movement do. But, the same “au naturale” girls use make up, and even dye their hair. Is that natural? This is natural right?  Is it really natural?   ————————————————————————–>  What’s the rationale for make-up? What’s wrong with the normal skin colour over your eyes or on your lips? (Not bashing make-up btw, it looks nice when done right; just don’t mess up my shirt when you hug me!) I know someone who died from a cancer that was caused by basically using so much hair dye, its like it became poison to his body. So shouldn’t we preach against hair dye too? What about bleaching of hair?
Think about it.
Personally, I don’t like bleaching of the skin–I think it makes people look worse than better, but if they think they look better, who cares about what I think? Nobody! Afta a nuh fi mi skin! A nuh me buy it gi dem. They’re free to do what they want. I’m known to preach to women to keep their hair long. Why? Because I like long hair! Is something wrong with short hair? No, but it’s just my preference. We all have our preferences.
Unlike many, I didn’t judge the people on the special who bleached their skin. I laughed. A WHOLE LOT! But I didn’t judge them. Didn’t agree with their reasoning, and I thought they needed a lot of education. But judging and condemning, I did not. To me, it should be the same reaction to with women with processed hair. These people are owners of their own selves and can do whatever they like, whether we like it or not. It’s their own health and their own choices; who are we to point at them? We all have our double standards somewhere. For my personal stance on bleaching, I do cast some blame on Vybz Kartel for how he portrayed bleaching to the masses. That wasn’t the kind of public education we needed at all. I know it was happening before him, but you’d be pretty foolish to think he didn’t have any impact at all on helping the practice rise to popularity. But, as Monica said last night, she [and others who practice bleaching] “PRETTY PLUS TAX!”

For those who are against the creaming of the hair and are of the view that persons who do it are in the same category as bleachers, that’s cool. To each his/her own. I don’t agree, but we all think differently.
This comment by someone on Facebook is pretty much the conclusion of the whole matter:

“From what I saw on tv all the bleachers said they were proud of their black skin but is a ‘likkle more opportunity’ or ‘fashion and style’ them do it fah…. Tbh [to be honest] most people who relax their hair use a similar justification system, you know ‘my hair too hard fi manage’ or ‘a kyah brush mi have”…. They say they proud of their blackness still enuh but you know.. is just fashion and style. The effects of a relaxer are pretty damaging as well, but you know by now how to not get so damaged by it, just maybe a one and two scalp burrn here and there but ntn too much like your hair falling out or w.e
Anyways its people body fi do w.e with it and they justify their decisions so it make sense to them and it shouldn’t matter to anyone else”


(Leave your opinions and comments please! Oh, and SHARE! Thanks 🙂


9 thoughts on “This Bleaching/Cream Dilemma

  1. I agree with the facebook post. However, the variables here are 'relaxer' and 'bleaching cream'. I don't know why debators are pulling other ones –make up, hair colour, etc. We could even go as far as locks! But, the debate is 'relaxer' vs 'bleaching cream'. Keep it there! Having said that, the reasons behind use are similar –1. cosmetic. Let's examine the various definitions of this word.
    Can we not agree that relaxers and bleaching creams are used to beautify in some regard and enhance or create visual appeal? I believe we can. Based on societal dysfunction or norm (depending on how you look at it), lighter skin is seen as more appealing for many. The same value is placed on cream hair for many, and so lye and bleaching become the ehancement tools of choice.
    Psychology has a heavy hand here as many do view black skin and kinky hair as a defect. Again, lets go by definition. Defect: an imperfection that impairs worth or a lack of something necessary for completeness, adequacy. Can we agree that many think black skin and kinky hair impair worth? We certainly can. From the very pages of history, we have seen this. Whether it is a mind-set externally or self-imposed, it is a belief nonetheless.
    Let's move on to the most common reason of all:
    3. EASE
    Whether kinky, curly, frizzy, 'bad' or 'good', girls will be creaming their hair and mothers will be creaming their daughters' hair to the end of time because of too many broken combs, tears and stress. Again, lets examine this by defintion. Ease: freedom from pain or discomfort; freedom from care; freedom from labor or difficulty. On those grounds, it is okay to cream your hair, right? Society says this is a valid reason and so it is largely accepted. But, this, so far, is one out of three reasons! Let's flip the coin and apply the same defintions of this reason to skin bleaching. Many would argue that darker skin causes some discomfort in certain cirles and classes of people. As such, it seems that bleaching would be a valid solution, creating some kind of ease. Similarly, many would argue that bleaching offers freedom from difficulty…whether difficulty in getting a job…difficulty in finding a man…difficulty nontheless. Valid reason right?

    Now let's go to the damage. I won't have to spend much time here. Watch the All Angles documentary and you will see and hear it all. However, many overlook the damage done by relaxers. The very chemical structure of lye spells doom for skin/hair contact. Luckily, we have learned to control the environemnt in which we use the substance but not always the subjects. Ask most women…cream on scalp for a couple minutes = burn. That 'tingling' is a burn. Depending on how long you withstand the “tingle” the physical scar will vary. But because you don't see it doesn't mean the damage hasn't already been done. Seen as necessary evil? Yes, cuz no one wants to spend thousands of bucks to leave a salon chair with straihtened ends and barely touched up roots! FEEL THE BURN! If you are not a “burnie”, you may think you're good, right? WRONG. The very application of lye on your hair elongates your strands…an unnatural process that makes your strands brittle. That's why post-relaxer treatment is so important.

    Similarly, not all women who bleach encounter extreme damange. I know women who bleach and they have beautiful skin!! You wouldn't even guess that they are bleaching. But the damage is still being done. Damage becomes physically obvious based on the method..whether topiclally (creams) or internally (pills & injections).

    Having said ALL this, it is safe to say that the reasons can be the same for both and the damage can the be same. Hence, they are no different!


  2. Okay, fair. But why not bring in other similar things? Goes back to what I said: Our own personal biases! If you like it, of course you going to bash it… Hahaha, still waiting for an answer to my tweet. Not satisfied with what I've gotten so far. PLEASE share the post, cuz I want the debate to BURN! lol not like cream, but like fire!


  3. I'm not satisfied with the ease answer.
    And see, of course we going leave out the variables, but they might as well be in there since this debate has been started!
    Bottom line is, this will ALL be subjective anyway you take it. So let people do what they will, and if and when we have kids, then we can tell THEM what to do (until they're older).


  4. I did not read everything above, however, there is no way bleaching the skin and creaming the hair can be compared. If you creme your hair and it gets damaged, you can cut it off and it will grow back, sometimes even stronger and healthier than before….no harm done. If you bleach your skin, there is no way you can cut it off and allow it to grow back….DAMAGE DONE!!! This is my two cents for now, I have lots more I could add….


  5. If we examine bleaching and hair straightening, won't we need to hair removal, eyebrow waxing and hair colouring as well? Where do we draw the line between grooming and self-acceptance? Many “naturals” reject the chemical hair straightening and the straight/wavy wigs and weaves but readily embrace the braids and curly/kinky wigs and weaves because they're closer to “natural”… different side of the same coin if you ask me.
    Both are not the same, there is enough knowledge in this day and age to provide anyone with how to properly care their hair no matter what state they choose to wear it in. I have no idea why many of these women, who used to go sit in that salon chair every 3-6 weeks, have now decided that they're much better than those women who still choose to sit in that salon chair because they've had an epiphany about who they are supposed to be. Skin bleaching is a much deeper issue and i can't believe it's being compared to hair styles.


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