Real Talk: Skin bleaching is culturally destructive

I am very sure, that if you’re African, you’ve had an encounter with skin bleaching creams. Either you use it, or an acquaintance or a family member does. I can recall so many moments where I would look at someone and be like:” wait, weren’t you 6 shades darker before, and why are your knuckles darker than the rest of your hands?” The answer to that question is: ‘skin bleaching cream’. The key to executing self-hate, you can say. Besides that, skin bleaching increases the risk of skin rashes, scarring and fungal infections.  This is something that is to be considered a threat to against the black population. The root of using these creams lies deep. Can we consider this as a scar from colonization, maybe?  

An article was recently published in This is Africa about this topic and it remembered me of how serious the situation really is. The act of skin bleaching lies in self-hate, which can start as early as during childhood. Most of the times in African communities, the lighter skinned child is considered as more beautiful and cute than the darker ones. In worst case scenario’s African parents use the creams on their children. People tend to mix this issue up with why black women weave their hair, but forget that skin bleaching is permanent and it is harming to one’s health and appearance.


Skin Light. African skin cream sold also in Ghana

Percentages of women who bleach in Africa.

  • 77% of Nigerian women use skin lightening products on a regular basis,
  • 59% of women in Togo
  • 35% of women in South Africa
  • 27% of women in Senegal
  • 25% of women in Mali bleach. These products are also used in Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, Gambia and Tanzania.

And in the diasporas the list goes on.

Influences today

The desire to have lighter skin derives from colonization. If you used to be a light skinned slave, you would cost more expensive than the dark skinned slave. The white superiority was forced on us Africans. To this day, there are celebrities who are transforming their shades of black skin. For example, rapper Lil’Kim. I mean, our color tends to change as seasons pass by, but certain transformations are too much. Not to forget that the lightened shade looks patchy.

These days, people are making comments such as: “you are beautiful…. for a dark girl”. Even Ne-you had the audacity to say that camera and say that light skinned are better looking any way. Scroll to 6.40 minutes and see for yourself.

the nerve!! And not to forget, how L’Oreal edited Beyoncé’s cover by lightning it like she was born of white people. Not that she is responsible for it, it, but L’oréal is. These are artists who make videos and help produce video ads that we look at, listen and dance to. And there are a lot of black men who speak as Ne-yo do.

I discovered a video, which was quiet interesting. I found an old video of  respected Congolose musician Koffi Olomide and was thinking: “hmmm.. this guy has turned quiet fair.” For those who can see it, share a good laugh ánd tears with me.

Koffi Olomide before and after. Not to forget those women, who look interestingly yellow.

Beyonce for L’oréal ad

Come on people, most Africans are dark skinned. Our skin color is part of our culture. We are trading in our identity by bleaching our skin. What are we doing to ourselves? Can’t we just respect those who are born dark to be dark? What’s your experience, share with us?

Read more about skin bleaching on This is Africa: Who taught you to hate the color of your skin?




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