Black and white celebrities alike are sporting dramatically-changed looks. Plastic surgery is no longer a luxury for these famous faces. In the eyes of many celebrities, plastic surgery, skin whitening, weight loss or weight gain is a must for many reasons. These span from personal needs and desires to professional roles, and from social to political agendas.
Many people suspect black celebrities are bleaching their skin. It is because lighter-skinned blacks seem to get better deals from the Hollywood studio moguls. Lighter-skinned black celebrities seem to rule television, magazines and endorsements over their darker counterparts.
Here are the stories of eight black celebrities that have dramatically altered their looks and the reasons behind their radical decisions.
1. Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson epitomized plastic surgery transformation. The King of pop suffered from vitiligo, a condition that makes the skin whiten with age. He also suffered from a terrible case of personal insecurity. That led to extensive and chronic plastic surgery and skin whitening, all in an attempt to reinvent himself.
According to expert Dr. Eda Gorbis, in Michael’s case he may have been suffering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder. It is an illness where the sufferer has a distorted view of his or her appearance.
Body dysmorphic disorder usually develops during adolescence and affects men and women equally. It includes the following symptoms:
- Comparing one’s own body parts to other people’s body parts
- Camouflaging one’s body with clothing, makeup, hair, hats and other accessories
- Constantly seeking cosmetic surgery
- The inability to look at oneself in a mirror
- Picking the skin
- An obsession with grooming
- An obsession with exercise
- Frequent clothing changes
Addictions to plastic and cosmetic surgeries can be due to a medical or mental illness, rather than simple vanity. He began with a nose job, but soon became obsessed with chasing after his ideal of perfection. Many believe Jackson was trying to erase any trace of a resemblance to his father, whom he hated. The fact is, Jackson liked the effect of the cosmetic surgeries.
Some say Michael underwent at least 100 different surgeries to achieve his ideal of perfection.
2. Tamar Braxton
Tamar Braxton is often criticized for dramatically changing her appearance. Many believe the change in her appearance is due to plastic surgery and skin bleaching products. Like Michael Jackson, Tamar Braxton actually suffers from vitiligo. This condition results in dark skin turning lighter as a person ages.
In an interview, she explained her skin condition and how much she suffered due to it. She said that she used to tan a lot in an attempt to even her skin tone. She was so upset with her skin complexion, she used to sit on her hands because her vitiligo was worst on her hands. But, she denied bleaching her skin for her condition.
Ms. Braxton has had the condition since childhood and denies any skin bleaching routine. What about her nose job? Tamar has publicly admitted that she has had plastic surgery on her nose for medical reasons because she had no cartilage in her nose.
In an interview with the Ebony magazine, Tamar says that the one thing she does not have time for is plastic surgery, but she did admit that she would consider a breast lift if her breasts sagged too much after giving birth.
3. Vybz Kartel
The Jamaican dancehall reggae star Vybz Kartel bleached his skin using cake soap. It is a soap used to bleach clothing that began selling a line of skin whitening products for men. He began bleaching his skin to make his tattoos easier to see.
Skin bleaching for men has an economic and political grounding in Caribbean societies. In these societies the belief is “the blacker you are the more inferior you are and the whiter you are the more superior you are.” There are clear negative associations with dark skin and race that affect the self-confidence of blacks.
The Jamaican government declared “blue soaps” or “cake soaps” for skin bleaching as being detrimental and harmful. But, that did not stop Vybz from using and promoting skin whitening products. He says that he is his own man and does his own thing, according to a VIBE interview.
Interestingly, in 2013 after being incarcerated for murder, Vybz made a complete turnaround on the issue of skin whitening. He came out with a new song that urged teenagers to avoid bleaching their skin.
4. Vivica A. Fox
Many celebrities refuse to acknowledge they have had plastic surgery, but Vivica A. Fox is one actress who readily admits to having undergone plastic surgery. Unfortunately, not all her surgical procedures have turned out well.
She underwent surgery for a breast augmentation, but her implants became rippled and got caught on camera. Vivica says she regrets having plastic surgery and has learned from her past mistakes. She no longer engages in cosmetic surgeries. Instead she takes good care of the body she has now.
She admitted feeling the pressure of being in industry where looks count. According to her, the Hollywood stars need to have eye-popping breasts and a big, beautiful booty if they want to get ahead in their career and capture prime roles. The pressures of Hollywood can become too tough for many and they succumb to what many people refer to as “cutlery” beauty, or beauty by cosmetic design.
The pressure of a Hollywood career pushed Vivica to dabble in surgical techniques to enhance her beauty, but lessons learned the hard way made her realize that natural beauty is what counts.
5. Sammy Sosa
Skin whitening is not only the domain of black actors and actresses. Take former baseball player Sammy Sosa, star slugger of the Chicago Cubs for 13 years. A black man with medium to dark skin tone he now sports a white, almost ghost-like appearance.
Sosa says this is due to long term use of a bleaching cream that he uses before going to bed to soften his skin in combination with the bright TV lighting. Sosa states he is not a racist and that he lives his life happily. He says he does not suffer from vitiligo, nor is he trying to look like Michael Jackson.
Sosa has never given a reason for lightening his skin other than using the cream to soften his skin. It is not known if he applies the cream to the rest of his body or not. Skin-bleaching can cause mercury poisoning. The Minnesota Department of Health recommends that patients stop using any over the counter skin whitening products. Furthermore, they should not try it without the help of a dermatologist.
6. Tameka “Tiny” Harris
Cosmetic surgery isn’t all about skin color and creating proportioned noses, butts and boobs. On social media, reality show star Tameka “Tiny” Harris has openly talked about her cosmetic surgery to change her eye color.
Tiny explained to fans that her new eye color is not due to temporary contacts, but to surgical implants that changed the color of her eyes. Tiny was tired of wearing contacts to change the color of her eyes because it made her vision blurry. She said the implants work great. No more blurry vision.
Despite the fact she was happy with the result of the implant surgery, there is a lot more to the story. According to Dr. James Tsai, a glaucoma specialist at Yale University, eye color change procedures carry major risks including:
- Scarring of the cornea
- Ripping of the Iris
If you are considering permanently changing your eye color take the above risks into account and understand that the procedure is not FDA-approved.
This was not the first plastic surgery procedure for Tiny who had breast implants earlier. According to Tiny, she wanted to do something different and defended her right to do so. “It’s my body,” she says.
7. Elise Neal
Actress, dancer and model Elise Neal underwent breast augmentation surgery for personal reasons. She has spoken out about the prevalence of cosmetic surgical procedures on black actresses. She says that upwards of 75 percent of African American women in Hollywood have undergone some form of plastic surgery.
She states that as a dancer and an actress she always felt insecure. That is because she had to stuff her costumes to fit in with other dancers that had already had breast enhancement, or who were lucky enough to be naturally endowed with big breasts. She says she was not ashamed of it, but needed to own up to it.
Being a performer puts extra pressure on women to fit into a certain mold. According to her, in Hollywood they look to hire girls who were more voluptuous with a good booty. Yet, in the end she says that she did the surgery for herself, although it had more to do with performing. She wanted to be able to wear her dance costumes without anyone telling her to stuff it.
There are many factors that go into a person’s decision to have a cosmetic procedure or surgery. Clearly, for Hollywood actresses and actors, the pressure to win top roles and work consistently is a motivating factor in undergoing cosmetic surgery to improve one’s body and looks.
8. Nicki Minaj
Nicki is not just famous for her many controversies. She is one of the modern day black celebrities who have changed their looks completely due to alleged plastic surgeries.
She absolutely denies having any surgery in the near or late past. However, it is rumored that she has underwent several different surgeries, including a nose job, breast augmentation, a facelift and butt implants.
The “Anaconda Girl” repeatedly denies her meddling with her body features. Nicki claims that her facial and body features are natural, but looking at her current photos, and those photos of the recent past tell a different story. In addition, there have been viral photos of her stage falls that show her obvious butt implants.
Nicki never talks about her transformation and motives behind her alleged surgeries, so nothing can be said about her intentions with certainty. Her basic motive, perhaps, is the pressure of the music industry. In an industry where “twerking” is a new trend, Nicki may have taken the help of plastic surgeries to stay at the top of her game.
Many people grow up in other lands and come to America to seek fame and fortune. Their beliefs about dark skin and poverty, versus white skin and affluence plays a large role in them wanting to lighten their skin color. As a result, they believe they will be perceived as being successful and affluent in the U.S. culture. Hollywood and fame seems to be driving people to make extreme and dramatic changes to their appearance.
We should strive to accept people for who they are, and not expect famous celebrities to fit a certain mold. Imagine how much better we would all feel about ourselves if we could accept each other for who we truly are.