A photo posted by Azealia Banks (@azealiabanks) on Jun 12, 2016 at 7:56pm PDT
Azealia Banks has always been known for her message to women of “be yourself.” It’s why recent claims that the rapper’s been lightening her skin have ignited a firestorm on social media, along with some interpretations that Banks has all but admitted to the bleaching.
The controversial star has previously gone on record to say she’s “pro-black, has slammed what she perceives as the music industry’s preference for light-skinned artists, and has railed against what she’s called “Cultural Erasure,” or “a ‘white’ artist taking credit for the black artists hard work and passion.”
She’s also notorious for her self-destructive behavior on Twitter, most recently slamming Beyonce after the debut of her visual album Lemonade, saying “Beyonce spent her entire career purposefully avoiding ‘blackness’ but now that it’s a trend she’s trying to capitalize on it,” and attacking former One Direction star Zayn Malik in a racist and homophobic rant that resulted in having her Twitter account suspended in May.
A photo posted by Azealia Banks (@azealiabanks) on Jun 12, 2016 at 12:57pm PDT
But Banks’ alleged skin-bleaching stunt would not just be a contradiction, as it’s also a potentially dangerous practice. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warns against using skin-lightening creams, many of which contain mercury, which the FDA prohibits. “Exposure to mercury…can damage the kidneys and the nervous system, and interfere with the development of the brain in unborn children and very young children,” notes Charles Lee, M.D., a senior medical advisor at FDA, on the organization’s website.
The Chicago Tribune conducted laboratory testing on 50 skin-lightening creams and found that many of them contained high levels of mercury — with five containing amounts that are banned by federal law.
Skin-bleaching creams use ingredients that reduce the concentration and production of melanin in the skin, but creams aren’t the only route to a lighter complexion. Chemical peels and laser treatments can also reduce pigment, and according to the UK’s National Health Service, these other skin-lightening treatments also present a host of dangerous potential complications, including bruising, blistering, scarring, and infection.
But that doesn’t seem to be deterring Banks. Responding to a tweet that asked how she could lighten her skin and still be pro-black, Banks retorted — in true Banks style — “Because my [privates are] still purple.”