Skin-lightening products contain a number of toxic ingredients, including mercury and hydroquinone. Prolonged use of products containing these chemicals frequently results in skin discoloration and scarring, inability of the skin to resist bacterial infection, kidney damage, and a number of neurological side effects (depression, anxiety, and psychosis).
Referencing internationally popular skin-lightening soaps, LilyWhiteWash questions Eurocentric standards of beauty as they apply to women of color—specifically through the constructs of aesthetics and packaging. The lace rings, created by hand with a shuttle tatting technique, are a delicate series of knots repeated in circular patterns. The miniature bars—cast in smooth, deep black resin—are bound in these lace cages, creating the illusion of contained conventional perfection. In essence, the damage inflicted on generations of women, both physical and psychological, is cyclical.
LilyWhiteWash is an ongoing series; the bars will accumulate to an unspecified number, amplifying the stories of countless women.
Photography by Joy O. Ude