“Yes, part of it is a self-esteem issue and I have addressed that and I am happy now. I’m not white inside, I’m not really fluent in English, I have black kids. I’m a township girl, I’ve just changed the way I look on the outside,” she says.
The dangers associated with the use of some of these creams include blood cancers such as leukaemia and cancers of the liver and kidneys, as well as a severe skin condition called ochronosis, a form of hyper-pigmentation which causes the skin to turn a dark purple shade, according to senior researcher at the University of Cape Town, Dr Lester Davids.
“Very few people in South Africa and Africa know the concentration of the toxic compounds that are contained in the products on the black market and that is concerning. We need to do more to educate people about these dangerous products,” says Dr Davids.
But skin-lightening is not just a fascination and obsession of women, the BBC report says. Congolese hair stylist Jackson Marcelle says he has been using special injections to bleach his skin for the past 10 years. Each injection lasts for six months.
“I pray every day and I ask God, ‘God why did you make me black?’ I don’t like being black. I don’t like black skin,” he says.
Skin lightening creams in a market in Yeoville, Johannesburg Skin lightening creams are popular in many parts of Africa
Mr Marcelle – known as Africa’s Michael Jackson – says his mother used to apply creams on him when he was young in order to make him appear “less black.”
“I like white people. Black people are seen as dangerous; that’s why I don’t like being black. People treat me better now because I look like I’m white,” he adds.