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Who cares about thinning of the skin, stretch marks and chemical poisoning when we can look like every other airbrushed celebrity?

FROM liposuction to implants, hair removal, piercings and tattoos, the pressure to transform oneself in the titillating public’s own image these days is stifling. One of the more popular ways to change one’s appearance is altering skin colour. With an array of tanning salons and fake tans-in-a-can on the market, there’s something for everyone. Oh, your skin’s already naturally dark? Well, let’s not forget skin whitening cream, as the grass is always greener, right?

Wait a minute; do we really need streets pulsing with the orange hue of collars smudged with fake tans? And what of the skin bleaching products running rampant across Asia and Africa? Oh yes, those with the skin tones westerners salivate over are queuing up to strip their skin of its enviable colour.

Heck, in parts of Asia some deodorants contain whitening agent for your armpits. That’s exactly what the world desperately needs – a sea of minty white pits to complement the prevailing bleached dentures and eroded skin pigmentation. Who cares about thinning of the skin, stretch marks and chemical poisoning when we can look like every other airbrushed celebrity?

But hang on, where does racism fit in with all of this change of shade? How does this confusion of skin alteration affect those who judge merely on skin tone? Do white extremists hand out tubes of whitening agent upon entry into their lairs? Should black militias throw potential candidates into tanning beds to ensure appropriate pigmentation?

It seems that the more different ethnicities strive to look like one another, and with increased cross-pollination occurring between cultures, we are all bound to meet one another eventually somewhere in the middle; one giant homogenised product of globalisation. So, what will be our ideal skin tone, anyway?

James O’Sullivan