Theories Of Consumer Cultures Modernity Cultural Studies Essay

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The new and modern world has made wonderful steps to ensure equality abounds in the global society. However, the height of colonial bias and self judgement still occurs as people are judged by their human colour and shade of skin. This continues to exist amongst the African-American community that harbours people with lighter and dark skin tones. This action exists too amongst the African-British, the Asian communities too continue to be well informed of tone as an instrument for improving more on your colour to become like the Western world with the use of bleaching cream.

In the world today, the historic understanding of skin lightening starts in ancient Asia where those that worked outside in the fields were seen and referred to as labourers as against those who stay in door and are referred to as the royals. Those on the field were been scourged by the sun which aid the dark skin while those in door stay away from the hot sun and are seen as 'receiving fresh air'. The same ideology was placed on the ancient African culture too where those who are rich and educated are involve in less stressful jobs that can only be done indoors while those who are poor and uneducated are left to do the labourer related jobs that are mainly outside on the field. Therefore, the colour of one's skin reveals the class you belong to. In modern day community globally, there are some jobs that belongs to the educated and still have to work outside. A good example is engineering related jobs; civil, electrical, mechanical, chemical engineering.

In this present modern community, consumers still indulge in the act of buying skin bleaching creams as against some belief that it can destroy the skin; to lighten tone and 'look presentable'. Some get this product in order to treat some spots on their body, moles sun spots, and dark underarms hyper pigmented areas of the body and most often to brighten the tone of their face. This skin lightening cream that included hydroquinone as part of the ingredient has been banned in most part of the world due to its side/negative effect on the cream as it causes a lot of side effects that destroys the skin and creates harzards to the health of the users of the cream. Notable is the fact this ideology of skin bleaching is not only peculiar to the ethnic minorities but also affects those with white skin who wants to be spotless.


This assignment is developed in order to critically examine a particular consumer product or service which would provide a focus for a discussion of theories and issues as studied in the module. The analysis should contain a discussion on the production and promotion/marketing of the product and the different social, cultural and psychological aspects of its consumption which should be linked to the theories of consumer culture and late modernity.


Consumer culture is an important factor of the modern west. Consumption is in itself a cultural process everywhere. According to John Storey (1999), in his book 'Cultural consumption and everyday life' expressed that attention to modern consumption is still in its preliminary stages though modern and post modern consumption is now established as a field of critical enquiry. In the same vein Ann Bermingham also suggests that one of the reasons why this is so is because there is an element of history in the whole scenario that was made popular by some dominant versions of post modern history. Celia Lury (2003), also express in his book 'Consumer Culture' that the phenomenon of consumer culture should be seen as a contemporary manifestation of Euro-American material culture thereby considering the importance of exploring the interrelationship of economic and symbolic aspects of material goods or objects. It also agued that culture can lead to distinctive organisation that can be described as stylization which is brought about by quite a number of factors. These include:

Changes that relate to production of goods for the market due to commodification processes.

Changes due to differences between existing consumption styles in the society and the cycle of production.

Consideration of the increase in power of consumers in relation to the producers.

The increasing impact on the use of cultural goods and the art-culture system as a model of consumption for other goods.

The theories of consumer culture would be analysed alongside the following considering the nature of the skin lightening or changing body cream which is being administered on the body by most of the women and some men.

The body

Masculinity/ Femininities


'Race' and Ethnicities.

The body: The body in this respect refers to the impact of the lightning cream on the physical body; its reaction to the skin at it reacts to the weather. Every human body is different from one another. Some have got soft skins which might react quickly to the whatever cream is used on it while some are so hard that whatever cream applied on it might have any effect or otherwise.

Masculinity/ Femininities: The gender of the person applying the cream matters in every situation. Some schools of thought believe that skin toning or lightning is for females and not for men while some believes it is a game for both sexes.

Class: This refers to the level and status of the people who use the cream. Class is also a major determining factor as some of the celebrities in the world; those in the top high and ranking believe the colour of their skin need to reflect 'white'. A good example was Michael Jackson. Most of the early Africans and Asians believe the less privileged and the uneducated do field jobs and are being scourged by the sun while the educated and the rich with light colour skin as they do not partake in such odd jobs.

'Race' and Ethnicities:

Late modernity refers to events after the 'post modernism. Post modernism itself expresses a shift or movement away from the well associated modernity to a new phase of social life which has in totality clear principles about life. Baudrillard (1983a) expresses concern and states that post modernism refers to moving into a new form of technology and receiving new information which would lead to a positive shift in production. Lyotard (1984) refers to the post modernism society on the effect of computerization of the society on knowledge and that the loss of the meaning of post modernism should not be an issue as it is only a point of change of language, that universalism has come to replace localism.


Rosalind Minsky (1998), in her book 'psychoanalysis and culture' wrote on the contemporary state of mind of human beings and on how culture in the Western world is being confronted with social, political, technological and economic changes. She further wrote on how these changes affect relationships between men and women and the entire society either young or old. The social, cultural and psychological aspects of this ingredient 'Hydroquinone' in the bleaching and toning cream is that which affect the mind, especially as a function of awareness, feelings and the mode at which the environment accepts the use of the product.

Hydroquinone is an ingredient like glycolic and mercury that are used mostly in bleaching creams. Bleaching is an act that is regarded by many to be the least invasive method for the skin as they are easy to use on the skin for toning and keeping of unwanted spots on the body.

However, it is generally known and acceptable fact that there are possibilities of side effects with the use of any type of skin lightening products. Some people use these creams and do not have any side effect, this basically differs dude to feel of skin that individuals have.

Everyone in the social class wants to prove high level and down to earth with the colour of their skin.

Below are the criticisms developed byYeye Akilimali Funua Olade titled Effects of bleaching creams are deadly! (, 26th August, 2008).






Yeye Akilimali Funua Olade (2008), expressed that hydroquinone that is widely used in skin lightening creams would soon be banned due to the fact that many skin and other health related diseases have been linked to it with some fatal conditions that have also been linked to the use of the bleaching creams conditions when it is used extensively like skin cancer.

It is high known fact that black changes at every season and develops new cells that would enable it grow and improve, as this is the reason why the black skin keeps looking younger. Excess of melanin in is produced at any point where the black skin is damaged. This hyper-pigmentation forms dark spots or literally for those who care about skin perfection, dark stains on the skin is healed of the injury or whatever might have caused the thick on the body. However, among the blacks especially the Africans, Caribbean and the Asians, there is misguided information that having a lighter skin complexion is better. This as it occurs in the African setting affects the Asian countries too as everyone mostly ladies would want to 'white skin coloured'.

Bleaching agent hydroquinone - chemical C6H602 was discovered when some black workers in a rubber plant realised that one of the chemical in use at the plant where they work came in contact with there skin and therefore caused patches to their skin and this led to the workers suing to claim damages for injuries caused on their skin, but their 'discovery' led to the commercial production of cosmetic creams containing hydroquinone as a bleaching agent.

This bleaching agent is a strong chemical that it is used as the main ingredient in the photographic division, which is also used within the rubber manufacturing companies too as an antioxidant. This is also used in the hair dye industry as hair substance. Mercury stands as another product that takes the function of bleaching. As toxic as it is, it leads to malfunctioning that affects the colour of he skin, gives it a different colour as opposed to that expected by the user and also exposes the user to poisons from mercury.

Bleaching creams as a reagent takes of the pigmentation layer of the skin. In dark skinned people, the pigmentation serves as the natural protector of the skin from the intensity of the sun. Bleaching lighten the skin as professed through various advertisement from the manufacturers, this it does by taking of and stopping the production of the colour that creates melanin.

Immediately the skin has been 'bleached', the natural protective strong hold of the body is removed thereby allowing the natural rays of the sun to do damages to the skin. This is when the intensity of the sun gets destructive to those who have used the cream. In order to avoid such occurrence, some bleaching cream containers or leaflets in the pack gives instructions that sun protection creams should be used along with the bleaching cream. When this cream is used for very long time, it prevents the formation of melanin in the deeper basal layers of the skin, which will leave the skin lighter, but also make it open to more destruction that could lead to skin cancer. Hydroquinone mainly, has been found to destroy the strength of the skin and cartilage that has to do with tissue and that is why it has been removed from skincare products.

Those who use bleaching products end up having rough and blotchy skin which lead to bleaching trap by indulging in the use of more cream to correct the anomalies. This gradually led to more damages to the skin and might lead to severe health issues. On the other hand, exposure to the sun would make their skin get darker instead of getting lighter as expected.


There are numerous campaigns against the use of bleaching cream from various organisations like that put above. Also, there are programmes which includes 'Colour me white' on BBC Radio 4, 'Broken Silence' on Brit Asia TV, 'Miss real world' on BBC 3, 'Morning show' on Venus TV, 'Unbearable whiteness of being' on Scottish TV.

Although now in the market, it is a legal business to sell and promote skin bleaches that has a maximum of 2% hydroquinone. However, there are some shops that still sell these products that have in them over the agreed limit. Standards vary when the use of bleaching cream is considered from country to country. In some African countries like Gambia, anyone found with cream containing hydroquinone would be fined a huge amount while another African country was recently to payresearch scientist Sujata Jolly two million pounds in order to carry out a research on bleaching cream. This she turned down as she is also an advocate on 'Stop bleaching Campaign'. This she said is as a result of terrible effects bleaching has done on some people. She has also written an appeal to the health minister to come up with an injunction which would put an end to the use of the cream and its dangers to human life.

She concluded by saying she is not alone in this research work. Southwark Council's Trading Standards Council of recent sponsored a campaign to stand against the use of cosmetics that are used for bleaching purposes. The result of the campaign was a success as the use of hydroquinone would come to an end in UK from next year.

The European commission has given a directive to the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to ban the continuing application of the hydroquinone for the cause of skin lightning. The copy of the directive by the European Commission states that more harm than good has been done on the skins of those who applied the substance hydroquinone as a skin lightning agent. This particular use of hydroquinone must not therefore be authorised'. The above information therefore means that the present 2% that is allowed to be used in cosmetics would be approved by law anymore. This has taken effect in some of the member states while others are working on the bill to be passed into a law in their countries.


Different from other skin lightening creams that contain hydroquinone, the product in focus in this write up is NUR76 which does not contain harmful chemicals like the hydroquinone. NUR76 skin lightening cream is a product of Skinlight Cosmetics Ltd, a well established and specialist skin care supplier that provide exclusive, natural and highly effective products to men and women of all skin types. The ingredients of the product are made of natural extracts from plants which are free from mercury, hydroquinone and other ingredients that are harmful substances. According to the director of Skin care, "Nur76 is made from plant extracts such as:




Kiwi extract,

Tyrosinase enzyme,

vitamin C.

Tranexamic and

Arbutin complex".

The above mentioned ingredients help to eliminate spots, lines and wrinkles from the body. It also include UVA/UVB sunscreen and antioxidants protection that keeps the skin away from unfriendly disturbances. It works against premature aging with broad-spectrum UVA protection. This product is guaranteed as one of the best in the global market with expected positive results within a short time when used.

The marketing of the product has been done with specific attention to its caption on the mind of the users especially those that have been disappointed through the use of other creams that bleach the body. The following are the said functions of the cream:

It aids the reversal of photo-damaged skin cells as it improves and prevents pigmentation problems.

It also helps toimprove the capability of vitamin C in the body & builds capillary strength.

Does the function of Stimulants on the collagen and production of elastin.

Hyper-pigmentation is reduced and it destroys stubborn stains or damages on the skin.

It helps to eliminate unwanted marks, aging signs on any part of the skin.

Removes freckles, acne and pimple marks from the skin.

It serves as an anti aging cream and wrinkles

Removes scars from shaving, razor bump marks, and dark shadows.

Makes the skin get fairer and lighter as expected by the user

It helps to control oily skin problems.

The marketing section of the company went further to describe how this product can be used perfectly. The label states how this cream can be used which tells it should be used daily, to lighten up the skin, it also states that after use, the skin complexion will reveal youthful radiance and not only be fair. It is advised to use it once at he morning time and also before going to bed. The marketing section of the company expressly allow the customers have a good insight into the product, the materials used in the production i.e. the ingredients used and its composition so that those who would react to any of the ingredients would desist from using the product. The cream is being marketed nationally and internationally.

The following are the processes involved in ensuring a satisfied usage of the cream as prescribed by the marketing team of the company:

To clean the face then wipe with clean clothes.

A small amount of the serum cream is advised to be applied on the spot or place of interest.

Advisable to wait for some minutes after the serum before applying the NUR76 cream on the affected place..

This cream can also be used as a body cream as it would help regenerate the skin and the body. During application, if it gets into the eyes it causes irritations which must be reported to a physician.

It is advisable to keep the cream out of the reach of children and to keep it in a cool place.

Under the article and advice section of the company website, the skin light team wrote on the conditions of skin of every human being. The team expresses that not many people will have perfectly proportioned bodies due to bad health style, uncleanliness, personal grooming. Those with good skin manage their skin.

The condition of a person's skin does play a prominent role in the physical and emotional health of the individual. The outward appearance determines what is going on in the inward part, but also by outward look, which could be caused by changes in the use of harsh soap or temperature. The present state of the appearance of individuals can be altered through the use of the right cosmetics or permanently through surgery.

N. KATSMAN (April, 2011) wrote on dry skin. He expressed dry skin as a relatively common issue which most people are expected to experience from time to time. This he said hails from external causes as well as from changes in the skin's ability to retain it's moisture.

He express that water makes up 60% of the human body. And that not only blood and other body fluids have water as their main ingredient, water is stored in all body tissues. Cytoplasm, cells and cell walls contain lots of water. Skin stores a large quantity of water still it gets dry, itchy and flaky. 4-8 oz of water evaporates through the skin daily. Drinking more water every day and every time only replenishes the water in the body but does not guarantee smooth and resilient skin. The human skin has its mechanism with which it prevents loss of moisture. Protective layers are created by the cells in the skin and this layer consists of oils, amino acids, sugar compounds and other elements, either water or oil soluble. All these work together with water so that evaporation would not occur. As water is not allowed to leave the skin, the skin surface becomes softer and smoother and couple with the help of the body cream that would not damage the skin, the skin gets more life and strength.


The above scenario is very interesting that it reveals the menace and problems skin bleaching creams can cause to the body and the overall health of the users. It has also been proved that women use the cream than men. However, skin lightning creams that contain hydroquinone and other harmful materials should not be used. These ingredients have been band in some other countries too. But, the use of HUR76 has been found better as it does not contain any of the harmful ingredients. This refer us back to the psychoanalytical stage of life considering the class, race and ethnicities most especially as it affects the ethnic minorities i.e. blacks and the Asians who sometimes due to complex believe that their skin colour would make then low to their 'white' counterparts at work or business of life.

The ancient age has a method of advertisement which though was not done with technology but with the present technological advancement through the capitalism economy, most of these products have been brought to the door step of the users. This has therefore, sorted out some of the colonial complex that exists in the imaginary view/mind of the women from the ethnic minority and those 'white' who believe in 100% skin clear.