Back when I was in high school, which was over a decade ago, I remember reading about the racial oppression suffered by Africans and African Americans by “White” people decades and centuries ago. In some stories, it talks about how some slaves developed such an inferiority complex from being treated so badly by their masters, or how some black people being abused by the whites during the segregation periods would try to change their skin color using extreme methods.
Stories would come out where young black kids and older women and men would scrape their skins with rough surfaces until their skin would bleed hoping that they might be able to scrape away the darkness in their skin. The psychological desire to change their skin from dark to light was so strong, and it might have crippled their ability to ever fully accept themselves and have the self confidence to not be defined by the color of their skin.
Ever since people have met other people from different parts of the world and realize that one group of people is different from another by the shade or tint of their skin, some minority of people have probably wished that they could change the color of their skin.
It seems that only now, in the beginning of the 21st century with the advent of gene therapy, it might be possible now to really change one’s skin color for good.
Warning: As an individual, I do not promote or condone this technology. The desire to want to change one’s skin color, to look either darker or lighter is each person’s own opinion. I am only an amateur researcher presenting scientific possibilities that most people might not be aware of. Ultimately, science and technology is neither good or evil.
There was an article called “Cosmetic Gene Therapy’s Thorny Traits” (By Rick Weiss, Washington Post Staff Writer Sunday, October 12, 1997; Page A01) back in 1997 which showed that it has been possible to change one’s skin color for a long time.
As a medical researcher, Scott McIvor never suspected that his efforts to develop new cures would lead him to the edge of a brewing bioethical storm. Then, a few months ago, he got an e-mail message from a doctor who wanted McIvor to help him change a patient’s skin color…
…in gene therapy, in which researchers inject healthy new genes into patients in an attempt to treat genetic diseases. The doctor knew that genes affecting skin pigmentation had already been identified, and he had a patient who wanted to change his racial appearance
…Changes in skin color and muscle mass probably could be accomplished with current technology, they and others said. But the possibility of harm would be difficult to justify for a cosmetic procedure and, more important, genetic enhancement of healthy people raises a host of difficult ethical questions.
I almost never write these Body Hack posts anymore since discovering unique ways to hack or enhance our human bodies was never the true goal of this website. However, sometimes I find something that is so unique that I felt compelled to share it.
The ability to use gene therapy to change one’s skin color completely is one of them. I have done a lot of research on seeing whether it is even theoretically possible to use gene therapy in some way to increase a person’s height so I understand at a very basic level how gene therapy works.
After studying over the article written above, and looking back at how a basic gene therapy would go, it seems that it is indeed possible for people to change the color of their skin.
From gene therapy, the basic idea is to take some cells from a person, put the cells in a culture, surgically remove the gene that they want to delete or cut out, or use a vector with the mutation or slightly altered gene added into the cells in the culture, and have the culture put back in the person’s body.
The thing is that scientists have found out which gene causes the pigmentation of the skin, which is what determines whether a skin will be dark, darker, light, or lighter. All that will need to be done to get a dark skin or light skin is to combine the vector with the altered gene with a cell with the unmodified gene removed and the result are cells of the person who will have one gene of the entire chromosome changed. The cells are then added back into the body through a transfusion where the new cells are going to completely replace the old cells with the unmodified gene.
The result is that from the change in gene, the overall physical characteristics of the person will change over time.
I am quite aware that there are many cultures that really prize lighter or whiter skin, like in India where the product known as Fair & Lovely (and Fair & Handsome) are extremely popular to make women’s (and men’s) skin lighter. It is a social, psychological and anthropological issue.
While I have shown in this post that it is indeed possible, for over a decade now that genetic engineers can indeed change a person’s skin color using gene manipulation, the issue is really ove r the social consequences of such a thing.
What does it mean to us as human beings to allow for maybe thousands of people to go through with cosmetic surgery to change their skin color?
I and the other height increase researchers may have extreme difficulty in accepting the height we were given by our parents and genetics, but can we at least just accept at least our skin color and race?
I am left to wonder whether it was gene therapy that caused the now past Michael Jackson to change the color of his skin from the natural brown color that he was born with to the extremely white and pale skin he had when he passed away years ago. The article was written back in 1997 and it was said that most scientists working on gene therapy knew that it could be possibly done to change one’s skin color.
With the amount of money that Michael had back then, being so rich and popular, it is not inconceivable to believe that he would try to do such a controversial and radical cosmetic feature as to change his skin color.
I have no idea whether this world wide super star entertainer would ever have an identity issue over the color of his skin and whether he ever had any difficulty in being ‘black’ but I know that almost everyone loved him and had no problem with him being african american.
The official statement was that Michael Jackson’s incredible skin color transformation beginning in the 80s was due to a skin condition known as vitiligo. Recent evidence from autopsies and doctors show that Michael did have vitiligo. However I am left to wonder how was it possible that Jackson’s vitiligo would be so evenly distributed throughout his entire body. I personally have seen many people with the condition of vitiligo but usually the whiteness comes in patches on the face or skin.