SKIN bleaching with different descriptions such as skin-toning, brightening, lightening or whitening is a growing phenomenon that has not spared the local showbiz scene, if claims that some male artists are following the trend are anything to go by.
BY WINSTONE ANTONIO
While of late, skin bleaching has been common among foreign celebrities, it appears some locals, especially male celebrities, have joined the bandwagon.
Among the international stars well-known to have bleached their skins are Jamaican dancehall icons Alkaline, Vybz Kartel, Ghanaian model Mariam Abdul Rauf, Nollywood actress Ini Edo and Kenyan actress Vera Sikida who was reported to have spent about $170 000 on skin bleaching products.
On the local front, in what appears to be an effort to copy the “feminine act”, some male artists among them multi-award winning singer Jah Prayzah, gospel musician Mathias Mhere as well as dancehall sensations Killer T, Soul Jah Love and Seh Calaz are said to have joined the beauty trend.
Speaking to The Standard Style last week, the artists poured cold water on the claims despite some of their pictures circulating on social media platforms suggesting otherwise.
Jah Prayzah, through his manager Keen Mushapaidze, could neither deny nor confirm that he bleaches his skin, saying he prefers to keep people speculating about the issue.
Mushapaidze was not keen to comment further.
Mhere denied tampering with his skin colour, saying he does not use bleaching creams.
“Since I was born I have not even tried or used any chemicals to change the shade of my skin. People must understand how artists work. There is what we call makeup on set where one can apply face powder. The purpose of using face powder is to keep your face dry to avoid sweating, maybe that is what they are referring to as bleaching,” he said.
Mbare-bred dancehall star Killer T is another top musician who is said to have transformed his skin. However, his manager Kudzai “Super” Biston dismissed the claims.
“We have been hearing that for a long time. There is nothing like that, Killer T does not use bleaching chemicals. There are some haters who just hate him for nothing. That picture you refer to was from a video shoot and he only had make-up specifically for the shot,” he said.
Although efforts to get a comment from Seh Calaz and Soul Jah Love were fruitless by the time of going to print, they seem to have joined the effeminate trend.
Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa said bleaching was a harmful practice and warned those using the chemicals that they risked suffering from different ailments such as kidney and heart problems in the near future.
“Most of those chemicals contain a substance called mercury and other heavy metals which affect the skin and cause heart problems in future,” he said.
“The effects are so devastating such that as a country, we have banned the importation of bleaching chemicals. It is unfortunate that the chemicals are being smuggled into the country from South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo.”
A local pharmacologist, who preferred to remain anonymous for professional reasons, shared the same sentiments, urging people to desist from using lightening creams.
“It is now known that chemical bleaching can lead to serious skin and health conditions, which include permanent skin bleaching, thinning of the skin, uneven colour loss, redness and intense irritation and skin cancer, but it is sad to note that despite evident side effects, people ignore the ban and glaring warnings against the use of these lightening drugs and creams,” she said.
Blessmore Chigumba of Hatfield said the artists doing that might be suffering from an identity crisis.
“One wonders if these acts of copying western cultures by our artists make them recognised as superstars. If it is so, how come Mexican-Kenyan actress Lupita Nyong’o was named ‘the most beautiful woman’ by People Magazine in 2014?” Chigumba said.
Although Zimbabwe has banned skin lighteners, they still find their way through the borders of the country.