Nigerian Women Bleach Their Dark Skin To Make Them Look More Attractive
Via This Is Africa reports:
Today apparently 77 percent of Nigerian women bleach their skin. Can we truly believe that the rate would have been this high without the intervention of something catastrophic? The reality is that women of African descent started religiously attempting to whiten their skin upon contact with and conquest by pale-skinned foreigners. For us, preferring fair/light skin cannot simply be a matter of choice or aesthetics. We inhabit a world where white skin and Western European features have been established as the hallmarks of beauty and status. The justification of colonialism came from Europeans convincing themselves (and eventually others) that they were the height of human civilization, and Africans the lowest. Women bleaching their skins to boost their image and self-worth clearly points to the fact that they regard their dark skin as lacking in some way, as inferior and less beautiful, which is something the generations preceding them learnt from mental colonization.
Firstly we must not deceive ourselves, a huge number of Africans prefer light skin. To confirm this, one only has to look at our music videos and the faces of many of our most popular celebrities. The confusing thing about this preference is that these are usually the same Africans who will turn around and chastise people for skin-bleaching. When a woman looks like she is obviously whitening her skin there will be much ridicule directed towards her, however, if a woman is fair-skinned (regardless of whether she is bleaching or not) she will be praised for her beauty. I have witnessed different reactions towards my complexion because of the ease in which I can bounce from one spectrum of the skin tone scale to the other. I get light enough to be considered “fair” in Nigeria during the winter and then go back to being my regular dark tone in other seasons. When I am lighter I never hear the end of compliments on how beautiful my skin looks, but when I’m darker it’s “why are you so black now?”
Alonge claims that women bleach because that is what men find attractive, which in my opinion misses the point. The mothers who force their children to bleach their skin are not doing this to make their daughters attractive but because of their deep-seated belief that light-skin is aesthetically better. Some women may be bleaching because their mother is light-skinned and they are not, or because they feel that once they have attained a certain socio-economic class they need to “freshen” up their skin a bit. There are myriad reasons why women bleach today, yet these are all linked to the history of colonialism, trans-Atlantic slavery and the continued dehumanization of the African.
There is no such thing as “get over it” when an issue has remained topical for centuries and may remain so for centuries to come. One of the biggest delusions we suffer as post-colonial Africans is that we can easily get over the devastation of colonization. Over 300 years of slavery, subjugation and ruthless oppression can apparently be solved in 50 or so years since we were “freed”. Bleaching among African Americans started in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the practice grew popular in African countries during the colonial era, becoming increasingly popular as a cosmetic choice in the 1950s. Today the spotlight is on Vera Sidiki, bleaching her skin and proclaiming that she is proud of the way she looks. Tomorrow it will be someone else doing the exact same thing, and it will generate the exact same response. Who remembers Mshoza and Dencia? The only way out of this conundrum is if those of us of African descent finally wake up and remove our mental shackles, but it is never that easy.
Why this need to reduce skin bleaching to a matter of choice? Can we just be honest to ourselves and accept the history of this practice while continuing our “aesthetic” beauty treatments? What do you think of skin bleaching?