Has Sammy Sosa Been Playing with Plastic Surgery?
According to a source he has been doing a “rejuvenation process” on his skin and was “surprised” it came out so light. It appears that he has had one (or both) of two things: he has been using skin lighteners like hydroquinone and/or he has undergone aggressive chemical peels or laser treatments. Both the lightener creams and peels/lasers can create changes in the melanin of the skin resulting in a lighter color. In caucasians this is usually modest, however in people with darker skin (like Sammy) it can be pretty startling. With time his skin may recover some of the lost color. However, if he has had a major invasive treatment, it may not.
Baseball legend Sammy Sosa’s ever changing appearance has led to frequent rumors of plastic surgery, rumors that have followed into retirement.
43-year old Sammy Sosa has been rumored to have Vitiligo, a skin condition in which there is a loss of color in the skin ever since his skin began becoming lighter and changing his appearance. Sammy is currently lighter than ever, which he has attributed to being the result of using a cream.
Miami plastic surgeon Dr. Michael Salzhauer says, “Sammy denies having vitiligo, a skin condition that lightens the pigment of skin, but he did confirm the use of a face cream and he would not provide the name. That “cream” seems to have had a very strong bleaching effect.”
Sammy’s appearance is so changed that some fans have suspected the legendary ball player of having had plastic surgery, although it seems unlikely and his color change is the reason he looks different than fans remember him from his playing days.
Is Sammy Sosa whitening his skin?
One can’t help but do a double-take when looking at former Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa these days. That’s because his skin has transformed from a coffee-brown complexion to one more akin to coffee with heavy cream. Former Cubs employee Rebecca Polihronis, who talks frequently with Sosa, told the Tribune’s Fred Mitchell that people are making far too big of a deal out of Sosa’s new appearance,
"He is going through a rejuvenation process for his skin," Polihronis said. "Women have it all of the time. He was surprised he came out looking so white. I thought it was a body double. Part of (the photo appearance) is just the lighting.
"He is in the middle of doing a cleansing process to his skin. The picture is deceiving. He said, 'If you saw me in person, you would be surprised. When you see me in person, it is not going to seem like the picture.'
"People who saw him in person did not react the same way. He can't believe it is such a big deal."
The reason it’s such a big deal is because, well, we know historically darker skin often has been deemed more of an albatross than an asset. I would like to say we’ve moved away from that unfortunate type of thinking. But it’s still prevalent in far too many circles. Having light skin falls into the same camp as having “good hair.” I would like to say we’ve moved away from that, too. But if you’ve seen entertainer Chris Rock’s new documentary/movie, “Good Hair,” you know that’s not necessarily the case.
The reason Sammy Sosa is in the spotlight is because he appears to be yet another brown person unhappy in his skin. He says that’s not true. But in the photos, Sosa’s eyes appear lighter and his hair straighter. It does make you wonder….
When we consider even the specter of skin whitening, we think of the spectacle that was Michael Jackson. He also said he was happy in his skin. He blamed his problems with pigmentation on the skin condition, Vitiligo. But few people believed him in part because he had chosen to have his nose whittled down via plastic surgery and his once curly hair chemically straightened and lengthened with a hair weave.
Interestingly, it’s not just some people with African ancestry who covet light skin. Here on Exploring Race we’ve talked about the role light skin has played in other parts of the world. In China, light skin in often preferred because it is associated with wealth and one not having to toil under the hot sun. In some parts of India, parents are known to seek lighter skinned mates for their children so that their grandchildren have a better shot at having a “fairer” complexion. In Brazil and Japan, skin lightening creams are a big business.
This all reminds me of Rev. Joseph Lowery’s inauguration benediction when he said “Lord… we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around, yellow will be mellow … “
Is Sammy Sosa bleaching his skin? Should we care? There's a larger question here that has to do with perpetuating stereotypes and certain standards of beauty. It's why some people were upset in 2008 when singer Beyonce's skin appeared to be lightened in a group of L'Oreal ads for hair coloring products.