Over the past few days, photos of former MLB slugger Sammy Sosa have been storming around the Internet, showing the normally dark-skinned Sosa with what appears to be very light skin. Rumors have been swirling -- is he going the way of Michael Jackson? Is it a side effect of his alleged steroid use? What's going on?
Sosa appeared at an awards event in Las Vegas on November 4 with his wife. He gladly posed for red carpet photos. Those photos show a very different "Slammin' Sammy," who used to hit monster home runs at Wrigley Field and beyond. His skin is nearly white, compared to the dark-skinned Dominican we're used to seeing.
Despite all of the rumors of steroids or skin bleaching or the dermatological disorder vitiligo, a friend of Sosa's says there is a very simple explanation. "He is going through a rejuvenation process for his skin," Rebecca Polihronis, a former employee of the Chicago Cubs, Sosa's former team, told the Chicago Tribune. "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 it is just the lighting.
"He is in the middle of doing a cleansing process to his skin," continued Polihronis, who said she speaks to Sosa often. "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."
But writing in the Tribune's "Exploring Race" blog:
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...
The reason 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.
"He has always been concerned with the way he looks," Polihronis said. "Probably just bad timing going to an awards show. He is not trying to be Michael Jackson."