I have a major problem with skin whitening creams. I'd never heard of such a thing until I went to Cambodia and my friend advised me to check any creams I bought carefully as so many of them contain what is effectively bleach. I noticed it again living in Bangladesh and the Philippines and made my friends there promise they wouldn't use them, because there is nothing wrong with the colour of their skin, and just the thought of putting something that potent on my face (or anyone else's) makes my skin crawl.
I suppose this sounds hypocritical coming from an Australian; from the land that bakes itself in the sun to be brown. I learned after a couple of bad burns that my skin doesn't really tan, that it's too pale and so I don't spend hours greased up lying in the sun.
So it comes down to the grass usually being greener on the other side. White women want brown skin, women with darker skin want lighter skin. And thankfully, there is someone doing something to combat this perception of lighter skin being more beautiful in Africa.
A beauty contest, Miss Authentica, has been held in the Ivory Coast where to compete the women must not have altered their skin (which is confirmed by skin experts). This slideshow tells the story...let's hope that the cosmetic industry does pay attention and stop this horrid business.