Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Skin Bleaching in Jamaica: A Colonial Legacy

Academic journal article Journal of Pan African Studies

Skin Bleaching in Jamaica: A Colonial Legacy

Article excerpt

Light skin color sits within a space of privilege. While this has global significance and relevance, it is particularly true in Jamaica, a former British colony. The majority of the population is of African descent, yet there is an elevation of Eurocentric values and a denigration of Afrocentric values in many facets of life, specifically in the promotion of light skin as an indicator of beauty and social status. The purpose of this study was to examine the psychological and socio-cultural factors that influence the practice of skin bleaching in the postcolonial society of Jamaica. Additionally, the study outlined the nation's efforts to combat the skin-bleaching phenomenon.

The naturalistic paradigm of inquiry was used to frame the study and to collect and analyze data. The sample consisted of fifteen participants--twelve participants (six males and six females) with a history of skin bleaching; a retailer of skin lightening products; a local dermatologist who has written and published in local newspapers on the practice; and a representative from the Ministry of Health who was integrally involved in the national educational efforts to ban the practice. Data came from three sources: in depth interviews with respondents; observation of participant's skin-bleaching practices; and a review of local cultural artifacts from popular culture and the media. …

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