Sammy Sosa is making waves for pictures of his whitening complexion, which is the result of skin bleaching that is growing in popularity — and controversy — around the globe.
The former MLB star sparked interest this week when a photographer posted a picture of Sosa from a trip to London showing his ever-whiter complexion. Sosa had already been generating buzz from previous appearances where his once-dark skin was turning shades whiter.
Sammy Sosa is actually open about what’s behind the lightening skin, saying in interviews that he uses a nightly cream that softens his skin while also bleaching it. As Newsweek noted, Sosa opened up about the skincare routine back in 2009, when fans first started to notice his lighter skin.
Skin bleaching is actually a very popular trend worldwide, with the news site QZ.com noting that the industry generates $10 billion in sales worldwide. It is very popular in parts of Asia and Africa, but also draws some significant backlash.
This year, Ghana moved to ban hydroquinone, the active ingredient in many skin-whitening products. Both Cote d’Ivoire and South Africa have also taken action to regulate skin-lightening products, the report noted. While there is some significant cultural backlash against skin bleaching, there are also health concerns. Hydroquinone is considered a potential carcinogen, QT.com noted.
The industry has also drawn backlash for the messages used to promote the skin-lightening products. As the New York Times noted in a 2016 report, many of the products are marketed with a message that lighter skin is more beautiful.
“Here in the heart of the multibillion-dollar industry of products in West Africa that are meant to whiten skin, it is a world of mixed messages. Women are now being told that it is wrong, and even illegal, to bleach their skin. At the same time, they are flooded with messages — and not even subliminal ones — that tell them that white is beautiful.”
That sentiment is at the heart of much of the backlash against Sammy Sosa. Many have noted that the former MLB player appeared to be denying his Dominican heritage, with others noting that he was seen as a role model to many young black players.
Faltan 5 días para el Cumpleaños de Sammy Sosa... Aquí lo vemos desde Londres!!! pic.twitter.com/yFQSkVE0m8— FRANKLIN MIRABAL (@Elreydelaradio) November 6, 2017
But Sammy Sosa has defended his skin-bleaching products, noting in previous interviews that camera lighting makes it look lighter than it really is. He has also denied having any racial intentions, saying he is not a racist and is happy living his life.
[Featured Image by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for IWC]