Liberating Skin Bleachers: From Mental Pathology to Complex Personhood
JENdA: A Journal of Culture and African Women Studies, Issue 14 (2009)
Posted: 27 Dec 2013
Date Written: 2009
The dominant explanation for skin bleaching is self-hate.This article uses the notion of complex personhood to liberate skin bleachers from mental pathology arguments.The bleaching syndrome in the literature has not been empirically verified in the Black community and does not deal with the physical bleaching of the skin. The argument that colorism and miseducation drives skin bleaching and promotes Whiteness ignores the range of non-white identities constructed by skin bleachers as well as their rejection of whiteness.The research in Africa reveals the negative dermatological, medical and neurological effects of skin bleaching influenced by the colorized neo-colonial institutions. The self-hate thesis persists in the academy and ignores the psychic strength and agency of Blacks to resist oppression. Complex personhood states that skin bleachers have functional and multidimensional goal-directed selves with strengths, weaknesses, ambiguities, contradictions and resilience. This personhood liberates skin bleachers from mental pathology argument by (1) rejecting rigid identity binaries, (2) accepting their vulnerabilities which are separated from the trauma of slavery, (3) highlighting their black identity, (4) revealing their psychic strength and autonomy in their defense of their body modification and (5) articulating their daily optimal psychological functioning.
Keywords: self-hate, bleaching, Jamaica, complex personhood
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