With the rising cases of bleaching, you can only ask yourself where the mentality that a certain skin colour is more superior than another came from. The pressure to ape the Western lifestyle has become so much to the extent that many young girls are opting to compromise their health just so that they can meet media set standards of beauty.
Who is to blame for this insanity? Girls from a cross the continent are rushing to use chemicals to alter their skin just so that they too can be ‘light skin; and sadly this is being driven by our own selves.The damage might be already done for some but we still have a chance to rectify things and prevent our children from growing up to hate their skin. Here is a letter from a Mombasa based fashion blogger, Maureen Bandari which we belive is a big step towards the right direction.
If all girls grew up being told they are beautiful and if society made them believe it too then bleaching would not even be an issue right now,
So here goes,……
“With the recent outburst about bleached beauty,I sat quiet in a corner and watched people give their opinion about this and that.More notable was about accepting what God gave you while others talked more about the dangers of bleaching.At some point I did giggle at the hypocrisy of some comments.
Growing up,all I focused on were good grades.Most of the kids in my school were dark skinned as well and it was no big deal.I started discovering boys after high school and all that mattered was looking good and on trend as far as fashion was concerned.Then came campus and slowly I started noticing that some men loved slender women,some hippy,some plus size,some dark skinned,some light skinned you name it.At some point I was friends with a complete light skin and we were like day and night.It’s through that friendship that I noticed people’s attitudes towards me as a dark skin and to her as a light skin were totally different.I have never heard the ‘yellow yellow’ phrase said with a hint of lust so many times in my life like I did in my uni days.I have been told once that I would look prettier if I was just a little lighter.The most common phrase ever said to me is that ‘you look pretty good for a darker tone” that is not a compliment honestly.
Everyone is responsible for their own self esteem but society has a part to play.I get saddened when I see huge corporate companies putting up an advert on social media looking for light skinned girls for a certain gig.most notorious is when they want models at a launch event.Listen,who said a dark skin girl can’t sell the heck out of that product? or a musician looking for girls to feature in their videos.what is that dark skinned model girl supposed to do when all potential employers prefer a certain tone? bleach? If she goes ahead and does that again,she is called out by the same people.So,what exactly do you want? I ask.
In Tanzania,I read that most light skinned girls get movie roles based on their beauty whether they know how to act or not. According to WHO, 77% of women In Nigeria use lightening products on a regular basis which makes them the largest contributors in Africa.I watch those documentaries and shed a tear because this is what society has reduced them to and in most cases they say their men love them even more after bleaching.Here in Mombasa bleaching soaps that sell for as low as 100shillings a piece sell like hot cake.I no longer get surprised when I see a lady who is lighter on the face but dark everywhere else.
I treat my skin like it’s the only thing I own in this world.Have I ever wished I was light at some point in my life? hell yeah.With all that stigma sometimes you can fall for it.In fact when I was younger,My sister and I wanted to be ‘whites” so one day we cut a certain plant that oozed out some white liquid and applied it on our face thinking we would wake up as ‘wazungus’.The following morning we woke up to a rude shock,our faces were so swollen with painful blisters we couldn’t even eat.We had no idea that plant was poisonous!
I have never let people’s opinions about dark skin get to me.In fact I laugh at some of those #teamdarkskin vs #teamlightskin twitter wars.Most of the time I’m more worried about keeping my figure intact by watching my weight than I am about skin.I don’t have time to worry about two things honestly,one at a time please.I don’t know where I get this high self esteem about my skin from but It breaks my heart to know that some girls are not as fortunate.So what you say does get to them.It’s Okay to prefer one tone to another but it’s not okay to make the tone you do not prefer feel like they are not worth it.That is where most people go wrong and that is what this letter is about.
I always wonder if skin tone is something media stations consider when choosing their presenters Going by the small number of prime time news anchors and various hosts who are dark skinned.I hope not. I will forever love brands like NIVEA.Most of their commercials feature dark skinned girls and you just get lost in that chocolate beauty.It’s about doing the little things to end the stigma and you can always do your part no matter how small.That begins with you not being so judgmental,giving that little dark skinned girl a job based on merits,more make up companies coming up with colours that compliment darker tones,MEN not putting a lot of value to a fairer skin but the woman herself and so on.
When all is said and done,learn to see beyond the skin,beyond the tribe,beyond the race because we have problems as it is and we can’t start being our own worst enemies.Dark or light,we are all Africans. BOTTOM LINE”
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