beauty can kill…
In our previous story, we touched on the faulty maternity care system with Dr. Cynthia Flynn and the benefits of using midwives and birth centers as an alternative. Our fourth newsletter will cover the importance of evaluating the ingredients in our everyday cosmetic products. Did you know that Johnson and Johnson has lost two legal cases this year for not warning consumers the talc mineral in their baby powder can cause ovarian cancer? It makes one wonder whether the brands we’re loyalty to really have our best interest in mind.
Whether you purchase them for your family or yourself, some cosmetic products, such as lotion and powder, might make your skin feel soft and smooth, but they also could also include toxic ingredients that could be quite detrimental to you or your loved one’s health.
At Sistas 2 Sistas, we reject the warped beauty paradigm that has been pre-corded and programmed into our subliminal conscience. We reject this paradigm and have decided to rather embrace our true selves. Yes, you are beautiful so love yourself! Enjoy our newsletter.
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This is the first article of a four part series on the toxicity of our everyday beauty regimen and how African, Asian and women of color are unfairly targeted.
Pretty Hurts: Are Toxic Ingredients in Cosmetic Products Destroying Our Health?
For women, applying cosmetic products might be part of our everyday routine, however, it’s time for us to be more cognizant of the harmful ingredients and the consequential health effects when using these products long-term. From skin to genital care- there has been a growing concern about the impact of toxicity in certain beauty products, especially those targeted towards minority community.
Earlier in February this year, the family of a 62-year-old African-American woman, Jacqueline Fox, were awarded $72 million in St. Louis after a jury trial determined that her ovarian cancer diagnosis was caused by talc, a mineral found in Johnson and Johnson baby powder, according to an article by the Washington Post.
In the pasts decades, J&J faced over 50 of lawsuits that linked the company’s talcum powder to the diagnosis of ovarian cancer in a plethora of women, according to an article by CNN. Furthermore, Fox’s family indicated that the company has been well aware of the lethal harm of talc in their powder since the 1980s, however, they still neglected to make consumers aware that their products could lead to cancer. Although Fox passed away from cancer the year prior to the final trial, a juror at the trial, 50-year-old Jerome Kendrick, noted how J&J refused to take responsibility for not informing consumers about the deadly ingredients infused in their merchandise, according to the Washington Post.
“They tried to cover up and influence the boards that regulate cosmetics,” he said, adding, “They could have at least put a warning label on the box but they didn’t. They did nothing.”
Several months later, in May, J&J found themselves paying other monetary compensation of $55 million in punitive damages to a 62-year-old South Dakota woman, Gloria Ristesund, who was also diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using their baby powder, according to an article by the Wall Street Journal.
When Fox’s and Ritestund’s lawsuits proved successful, more women nationwide mustered up the courage to collectively file their suits against J&J. For instance, in May, the Albuquerque Journal reported that 15 women in New Mexico were also planning on suing J&J, after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer while using their baby powder. Joshua Bradley, an attorney at Branch Law Firm in New Mexico, referenced Fox’s trial when noting that J&J products were heavily marketed towards minority women.
“In the (Missouri) lawsuit they discovered papers that Johnson & Johnson markets to black, Hispanic and obese women as their prime market,” plaintiff’s’ attorney Joshua Bradley told the Albuquerque Journal. “They have an increased risk of ovarian cancer as it is, but you add baby powder into the mix and it’s just a bad combination.”
Similarly, in a recent study published in Epidemiology in May, medical scholars highlighted that in addition to talc leading to ovarian cancer and tumors, African-Americans, who are J&J target consumers, were also more likely to be affected by ovarian cancer.
Unfortunately, J&J aren’t the only companies monopolizing from the exploitation of minority bodies. Many cosmetic companies infiltrate their products with toxic ingredients and chemicals that are found in many of our hair sprays, relaxers, lotion, perfumes and nail polishes. Some of these merchandise contain dangerous minerals such as phthalates, a chemical linked to destroying the liver and reproductive system, and hydroquinone, an ingredient in skin-lightening lotions that have also been associated with causing cancer, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Although the beauty and cosmetic industry market their products towards minority women, their merchandise contain highly toxic ingredients that eventually does more harm than good to the disenfranchised community. Despite the fact that economic factors drive most minority women to settle for products that are more cost-efficient, we still have a right to be well-informed about the possible consequences of long-term usage of these products. A lawsuit might cover some damages and raise awareness, but it’s time for us educate ourselves to collectively take initiative and control of our own bodies before more damage is done.
Coming up: Interview with a leader in the Somali community and their paradigm of beauty.
Article written by: Nana Aduba-Amoah who is also the Editor for Sistas2Sister newsletter. She is a recent graduate of DePaul University where she obtained her master’s in Journalism, and previously obtained a bachelors in Communication from DePauw University. The Ghanaian native currently resides in the Chicago Area and is an avid consumer of cosmetics and skin care products. Nana is extremely passionate about utilizing writing as a tool to combat social justice issues.