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Abstract

South Africans have not overcome many of the psychological effects of apartheid and colonialism, some of which are self-hatred and low self-esteem. These negative psychosomatic influences often push people to alter their physical appearance to feel better about themselves, and one of the most common methods of doing so is by bleaching the skin(Abrahams, 2000; Charles, 2003; Singham, 1968). Skin bleaching, the application of topical creams, gels, soaps, and household products (e.g., toothpaste, bleach, washing powder, battery acid) to lighten the skin, has become one of the most common forms of potentially harmful body modification practices in the world within the last several decades.The goal of the present paper is to analyze the historical background of South Africa to determine how colonialism and apartheid may have influenced some South Africans’ preference for a light skin tone.