I really need to vent here. So, there I am sitting down at my usual African Hair Braiding salon, getting my hair braided and scanning the pictures of women showcasing different hair styles and then, I see it…A skin bleaching cream ad!
I was so shocked. Of all places! Then again most people buying these creams are our African sisters. But really? In a place that promotes African beauty, how could one post an ad for a product that for me strips away all africanness! What makes us beautiful as African people is the fact that we come in all shapes, shades and sizes.
Unfortunately there is still that belief that lighter is better in most parts of Africa. I asked myself: what would be the easiest way to do away with such ideas and practices and I thought, perhaps if men stopped attributing being light skinned to being more beautiful and more “in demand” women would not need to feel the need to change their skin color to get a second glance.
But in reality, the change needs to come from us. We need to accept the way we look. ALL of us because it’s become more than a one-sided issue now. Today, MEN are now using these products to lighten their skin tone as well!
I remember when I was younger, I was having a discussion with one of my darker complexioned friends and telling her that I loved her skin tone and I will always remember her response to me. She told me: “sure you do, you don’t have to worry about being TOO dark”. I was shocked and sad at the same time because I could not understand how someone so beautiful could have insecurities because of the way society defined what the “right complexion” should be.
At one point, the skin lightening trend was so “in” when I was in the Ivory Coast that growing up, my cousins taught me how to tell the difference between natural and bleached skin: “look at the knees, knuckles and elbows and compare, no matter how much bleach they put, those parts always stay the same”. So I started noticing really dark elbows and lighter, close to pink shades elsewhere. What most people using this product don’t know is that once you stop using it, your skin reacts badly, leaving black spot everywhere. And if you keep using it, you are elevating your chances of long-term skin damage…Is it really worth all this trouble?
People, lighter is not better. Darker is not better. Just embrace your true color and be proud of it. There is nothing more beautiful than being comfortable in your skin and with the way God made you. Ooof, I just had to get that off my chest. Thanks for listening!