A Research-Based Grant Proposal Thesis to Address Colorism as a Public Health Concern: The Need for Interventions to Mitigate the Phenomenon of Skin Bleaching Among Women in Kingston, Jamaica Open Access

Ferguson, Hadajo Johanna (Spring 2021)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/q237ht32z?locale=en


Despite the abolition of slavery and independence from Great Britain, Jamaica struggles with internalized values of colorism that affect the beauty standards of women in the country. These values are exhibited through the popularized practice of skin bleaching. Skin bleaching, or skin whitening biotechnology, is a common cosmetic treatment among women and communities of color. It is the act of lightening, whitening, or bleaching one’s skin using melanin-inhibiting mechanisms; common chemical ingredients in skin bleaching products include mercury (Hg) and hydroquinone. Long-term exposure to these chemical substances link to various adverse health outcomes ranging from skin cancer, liver and kidney issues, dermatitis, and many more. This practice is also an understudied public health concern; there is limited research or epidemiological data on the negative medical and psychosocial health outcomes on women in the population, especially in Jamaica.

This thesis project describes the development of a research grant proposal to acquire funding to advance in literature on the psychosocial and socio-cultural factors that influence the motivation behind skin bleaching within the population of women in Jamaica. By assessing the practice of skin bleaching, this research will provide a baseline of information with goals to: (1) Gain a deeper understanding of the psychosocial and socio-cultural factors (2) Collect formative/mixed methods research data to investigate the harmful effects of skin bleaching on women within this region. 

Addressing the issues of skin bleaching through this research proposal will be a strategy for additional resources and a solution to the lack of available research. Providing further research on the practice of skin bleaching and its effects on women in Jamaica can assist in incorporating education and empowerment interventions in partnership with governmental organizations, thus reducing the possibility of risk to adverse health outcomes. Such direction in research will allow for the opportunity to develop a possible women’s beauty educational campaign that will formulate a model utilizing scientific evidence and cultural competency to curtail the dangerous practice. 

The grant proposal is in response to the upcoming 2022 The Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases (GACD) call for proposals. GACD’s funding priorities support research that addresses the prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases through implication sciences. Addressing skin bleaching in collaboration with GACD’s implementation strategies can help achieve these goals.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Chapter I: Introduction

Introduction and Rationale

Beauty and Women

Beauty and Perceptions of Skin Color

Beauty, Women, and Perceptions of Skin Color: Purpose of Project

Problem Statement

Purpose Statement

Significance Statement

Definition of Terms

Chapter II: Review of the Literature


Research Question

Introduction to Skin Whitening Biotechnology

Psychological Harm Leading to Skin Bleaching/Colorism

Physical Harm of Skin Bleaching

Skin Bleaching in Jamaica

Summary of Current Problem and Proposal Relevance

Chapter III: Methodology


Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases

A Summary of the Grant Announcement

Proposed Methodology

Protection of Human Subjects

Reviewers Comments

Chapter IV: Grant Proposal

Project Title

Project Overview


Proposed Methodology


Project Evaluation and Measurement

Study Design and Data Collection

Risks and Limitations

Dissemination and Transferability of Results


Chapter V: Conclusion

Chapter IV: Recommendations and Implications






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