Caribbean Fashion Week Dance Hall and Skin Bleaching
CHARLENE Welcome to Fashion Week International, the show that reports on the most fabulous fashion weeks in the world, and the culture and politics behind them. This time we’re in Kingston, Jamaica, for Caribbean Fashion Week. MUSIC PLAYING CHARLENE In June 2012, Caribbean Fashion Week descended on Kingston, Jamaica. Although Jamaica might not be known for catwalk couture, reggae and dancehall style have become a worldwide export. CHARLENE Whilst dancehall parties are probably the best parties in the world, they’re also the place where you’ll find some unusual beauty trends, including skin bleaching.
CHARLENE And girls ingesting agricultural chicken feed to get a bigger ass. CHARLENE Welcome to Caribbean Fashion Week. KIDS SINGING CHARLENE Caribbean Fashion Week has been running for the last 12 years, mainly without a hitch, with the exception of 2010 when the whole event had to be to postponed due to a small war being fought between the army and local herodrug lord, Dudus Coke. This year’s fashion week was going ahead without a drugs war in sight at the National Sports Center in New Kingston. The problem with sports centers, is that no matter how.
Much hotel furniture and DHL fashions stalls you set up, it’s always going to look like a sports center. Once the show is actually started, the gorgeous models definitely had their own way of working the runway to an eclectic soundtrack of Skrillex and Bob Marley. However, it wasn’t until the fashion stopped and the aftershow entertainment began that the catwalk really blew up. MUSIC CONSCIOUS CHARLENE As local dancehall artist and heartthrob Conscious took to the catwalk, the previously prim girls on the front row summarily transformed into insatiable.
Dancehall queens. In Kingston, dancehall nightlife is omnipotent. You can rave every night of the week if you want at imaginatively named parties such as Mojito Monday, Nipples Tuesday, Weddy Weddy Wednesday, and so on. To find out more, we were going to meet a man who, to describe as an authority on the subject of dancehall, would be an understatement. We just spontaneously were told we had an interview with Elephant Man. And I was like, yeah, cool. Let’s do it. And then when we walked in and I met him and I shook his.
Hand, I became completely overwhelmed and I dissolved. MAN Love this! CHARLENE Yes, pretty man. CHARLENE I wore them just for you. CHARLENE And what about trends like skin bleaching CHARLENE What for you is the essence of Jamaican beauty CHARLENE How are you going to stay fresh CHARLENE Back at the party, it was easy to see why some of these girls might cause the men some problems. Their outfits made their bodies pop in all the right places. However, it was hard to ignore an unnatural paleness on some.
Of their faces. Skin bleaching is a controversial topic all over the world. But Jamaica is the only country where it has become a subject immortalized in song with popular dancehall stars such as Vybz Kartel endorsing it. CHARLENE However, this is not the only DIY beauty treatment causing a stir, as we’d find out the next day. MUSIC PLAYING CHARLENE So we’re coming to look at this private farm in someone’s backyard. A poultry farmer. Now, this is obviously not entirely fashionrelated, but you’ll see. Hi. We were here to find out about an underground trend that.
Started in Jamaica in the ’90s of girls consuming agricultural chicken feed in the hope of obtaining curvier bodies. Colloquially known as fowl pills, they might contain anything from growth hormones to appetite stimulants. And one of the key ingredients is arsenic. Yummy. CHARLENE How many do you have CHARLENE You’re going to end up as KFC, my friend. CHARLENE So girls put this in their porridge CHARLENE And it helps them get bigger, just like a chicken CHARLENE As this is an underground phenomenon, there’s no actual proof that this plumps girls’ breasts and.
Buttocks the way it does chickens. CHARLENE What’s nice about fat CHARLENE Why is it better to be bigger in Jamaica CHARLENE Another thing, since I’ve been here, one of the fashion is bleaching skin. CHARLENE Do you bleach BOY Yeah. CHARLENE Yeah When did you start CHARLENE It’s bad for your skin MUSIC PLAYING CHARLENE As usual, fashion week was bucking the trend on the street. But if eating chicken pill porridge for breakfast was one of them, then it’s probably best left on the street. I wanted to ask the models what they thought of these.
Trends, if indeed they’d heard of them. CHARLENE General opinion seemed to suggest that this was a matter of economics and education, as these practices are popular in lowincome areas. My questioning was eventually overwhelmed by the excruciatingly loud Europop, so we left fashion week and headed back to a dancehall party. MUSIC LISA HYPER, BLEACHING FIT ME CHARLENE I’d heard dancehall superstar Lisa Hype was going to be at the party. She was a protege of Vybz Kartel’s and fellow bleaching advocate, so I was keen to talk to her.
MUSIC LISA HYPER, BLEACHING FIT ME CHARLENE The dancehall may initially seem intimidating, like walking into an exclusive club where everyone dances better and is hotter than you. But on closer inspection, you realize this is an arena that welcomes all sorts, just as long as you get involved. MUSIC LISA HYPER, BLEACHING FIT ME CHARLENE We make plans to meet Lisa the next day. In most countries, a celebrity turning up at a nightclub causes a scene. Not here. I was surprised Lisa’s presence didn’t cause some sort of hysteria, but not half as surprised by.
What happened next. King of the dancehall, Beenie Man, strolled in to break the news of the death of his father to the unsuspecting crowd. MUSIC PLAYING MUSIC PLAYING CHARLENE So we’ve come this lovely house on the outskirts of Kingston for a photo shoot for Lisa Hyper’s album. Lisa Hyper is one of the biggest female dancehall stars at the moment. She started out as one of Vybz Kartel’s proteges, and since he’s been in prison she’s trying to reinvent itself. Obviously, she’s one of the most influential female stars.
Of the moment, but one of the main reasons I want to talk to her is because she’s one of the few stars that advocated skin bleaching. LISA HYPER UNINTELLIGIBLE PHRASE CHARLENE Obviously, here, fashion is so tied up with music. LISA HYPER Yes CHARLENE How do you feel now about being a role model to young girls in Jamaica How do you feel about that responsibility CHARLENE People overseas are obsessed with the fact that everyone is bleaching their skin. Do you still bleach CHARLENE Yeah LISA HYPER Yeah, I still do.
CHARLENE And can you explain for us why it’s so popular here, because I think there’s a lot of ignorance and a lot of people don’t CHARLENE I mean, for some young girls I think because the processes is not monitored, you can’t go and safely buy the cream and there’s no real instructions because there’s no education around it, do you think it would be better if there was somewhere it was more regulated so that LISA HYPER Yes. CHARLENE people weren’t hurting themselves. CHARLENE Lisa seemed uncomfortable with the term, bleaching.
Many people here prefer to sugar coat the trend by referring to it as rubbings or toning the skin, making it sound more like a health treatment at a beauty spa. CHILD Come watch me. CHILDREN SINGING CHARLENE After meeting Lisa, someone who grew up in the ghetto and is so influential there, I wanted to talk to some young girls from there for whom the bleaching trend is a part of everyday life. So that one is when you’re at your whitest CHARLENE So that’s like the lightest you got.
CHARLENE At what age CHARLENE Did people tell you that you shouldn’t do it It’s dangerous for your health CHARLENE And who are the people that say that CHARLENE That’s how I clean my bath. CHARLENE Do you think, also, the popularity of having lighter skin comes from the media CHARLENE So what is this chicken pill CHARLENE And it works the same you think for humans GROUP OF WOMEN Yeah. CHARLENE Peritol. The pills they showed me had Peritol stamped on them. These have nothing to do with chickens. Peritol is actually an appetite stimulant for.
Depressed cats. Chicken pills seems to be an umbrella term for any underthecounter pharmaceutical that may help you gain weight. Some girls aren’t too worried about what they are putting in their bodies if there’s a chance it’ll bring them closer to their ideal look. CHARLENE So what happens Where do you get the pills CHARLENE The girls then took us into downtown Kingston so we could see just how easy it was to get hold of bleaching products. So where are we going now CHARLENE We are in Kevin’s Haberdashery and this is where.
The girls buy their bleaching cream. How do you know what you’re buying There are so many different types. CHARLENE What do you mean by risk CHARLENE Because it’s kind of a bit illegal. You can’t just go and ask the doctor what to do, you have to try yourself. CHARLENE I’m looking at Vybz’s own brand cake soap. WOMAN UNINTELLIGIBLE cake soap. CHARLENE Is it does it work CHARLENE Really CHARLENE So we just kind of followed the girls into the place where they buy the bleaching cream, and I was.
Quite surprised to see it all on display because from what I’ve heard, I thought it was kind of more of an underthecounter thing because it’s not legal. So we were OK for a while and then once the people who worked there realized that we were filming, they asked us to stop because they thought we were going to expose them. So we’ve had to step outside. CHARLENE We managed to find a vendor of lightening products who agreed to talk to me about it. Generally, like any other accessory fashion store that I.
Might find in the world. Except that you sell bleaching cream just like it’s another accessory. What is it about being lighter at the moment that is more attractive VENDOR Hmm. CHARLENE Despite the risk of atrophy, stretch marks, chemical burns, and acne, not to mention the longterm systemic health effects such as Cushing’s syndrome and diabetes, many girls and boys continue to bleach in the name of fashion. The girls we’d met were unwilling to actually apply it in front of us, so we headed to one of Kingston’s premier.
Strip clubs, Caesar’s, to meet a girl who would. So the girls that we spoke to before, they were really open about skin bleaching and they let us talk about it for ages. When it came down to actually showing us how the process is done, they were a bit uncomfortable doing it. So, we’ve been put in touch with a girl who works here. This is a strip club in Kingston called Caesar’s. I’ve got to tell you, she’s not a stripper, she’s only a hostess. But she’s going to show us and hopefully give us some further.
Insight into why girls bleach. What do the men here want Who are these girls here CHARLENE So is this kind of what the demand is, lighterskinned girls CHARLENE So using skin bleachers is logical, really. It makes sense CHARLENE Interesting. Do you ever think about it, and just wish that it was different and the trend was to be black CHARLENE She took us into one of the back rooms usually reserved for more amorous encounters where she could demonstrate her bleaching technique. So show me what you do. HOSTESS All right.
CHARLENE What do you think would happen if I used it CHARLENE Shall I try CHARLENE It’s definitely a little bit warm. HOSTESS Yeah. CHARLENE So you would go out with this under your clothes All day CHARLENE If you have a boyfriend already, doesn’t it interfere with your sex life CHARLENE What’s more important Sex or bleaching CHARLENE And even in summer, like how it is now CHARLENE Some of the beauty trends we’ve seen here may appear extreme, but when put up against permatanning and plastic surgery, it’s just another example of the theory.