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Why Do Jamaicans Bleach?

By Tracie Shortridge, Associate Writer

Dictionary.com defines bleaching as a verb meaning to cause (a material such as cloth, paper, or hair) to become white or much lighter by a chemical process or by exposure to sunlight.

So, by definition, anyone and almost anything, can be bleached.

So there are varying reasons why people bleach their skins.

Let’s take a quick look at them...


5 Reasons Why Jamaicans Bleach


.. in my opinion at least.


  1. The 'Lighter is Better' Syndrome


    Unfortunately, there is still a widely held belief in Jamaica that the darker your skin, the less beautiful you are and also that the lighter the skin, the better opportunities.

    This, as you and I know, is not true!

    I believe that this is a residual effect from the days of slavery in Jamaica, the Caribbean and the Americas.

    And even more unfortunate, is that many of our persons’ mental ability to break through that stigma and societal beliefs and practices is still very weak.

    It is still believedthat the lighter your skin, the better jobs you will get, the more people will pay attention and listen to you and of course, you stand a better chance of overall success and prosperity in society.

  2. Low Self-Esteem


    This is extending the above point, but also a point in itself. The age old issue of feeling inferior to others who are of a lighter skin tone and not thinking one measures up will result in persons resorting to bleaching to 'fix this problem'.


  3. Spots Removal


    With puberty come pimples, followed by scars left from abrasions of these pimples.

    Many of us will then turn to “toning” which is supposed to balance out the complexion however, they we up bleaching to remove the spots resulting in the entire pigmentation of the skin being removed.

  4. Stereotyping by Icons and Role Models


    Sad too but true! Unfortunately, we have people, especially in local media that still evangelize, although some more subtle that others, the ‘browning’ idea.

    With these ideas embedded in young persons, they buy into this fiction (which affects the way they view themselves) thereby thinking they need to bleach to be loved, adopted or accepted.

  5. The (What We Call) In-Crowd Effect


    If a famous entertainer turns up wearing a kite on their head, it is seen as being cool and if one wants to be cool and be a part of the trend, the bleaching will happen.

    One such example is popular dance hall entertainer who bleached his skin resulting in masses of people, mainly youth, engaging in the bleaching process as well.

    So, in Jamaican dialect, “if yuh nah bleach, yuh nah seh nutten” meaning “if you are not bleaching, you are not trending”.



By the way, I needed to tell you that these are the same reasons why the local bleaching industry earned over an estimated US$5M in the sale of bleaching products last year alone!

But, that’s a topic for another discussion.

I’ll however just take the opportunity to remind my beautiful Jamaican people, both male and female, that true beauty comes from within - not from the colour of our skin.

Please be sure to read more on the history of Jamaica and the Jamaican people for additional insights.


So, do you agree with me? Do you think there are other reasons why Jamaicans bleach? Please share your comments here.

And, if you found this helpful, please consider sharing it with your friends.

Comments for Why Do Jamaicans Bleach?

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Apr 26, 2018
so true
by: Bleaching in Jamaica

I agree.

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