Bleaching, Dencia and Lupita N’yongo

By Georgette Monnou||

We all know that bleaching is bad, which it is, and we are all aware that we are supposed to embrace our natural beauty, which is true. However, this article is going to address how the Nigerian society does nothing to help us with that.

Recently, Dencia launched her line of creams that promises to give an even skin tone. Initially, she rejected the accusation that they were bleaching creams, but later confessed their potency in an Essence Magazine interview. Denying the effect of her creams was very silly considering that in her own advertisement, it stated ‘say goodbye to pigmentation and spots forever.’ Whitenicious since its launch has re-started conversations about people’s perceptions of beauty and inspired me to write this article.

The Nigerian Society loves what is different, what seems oyinbo, but that is a psychological problem. Africa is constantly trying to emulate the Western world, whether in music, fashion, or in beauty. I cannot speak for all women, but I imagine that reason why some women bleach is because they feel that according to society the fairer you are the more beautiful you are. Likewise some women feel that they need to put on a foreign accent in order to seem cultured or more knowledgeable. Both of those things they believe necessary in order to be successful in their various careers. That sense of being foreign, trickles down into wearing weaves, wearing excessive make-up or buying excessive material goods. There is nothing wrong with doing any of those things as long as you do not do them in order to feel validated.

Is it really true that one gets ahead in Nigerian society because of bleaching? Maybe. As a banker who works in Sales, you might feel that having a lighter skin tone or having a foreign accent, attracts the investors your bank is going to need. Similarly in the entertainment world, being a few shades lighter might be the key to getting you that dream job. Eku Edewor in an interview recently talked about how people constantly say to her that the only reason why she is as successful as she is in Entertainment Industry, is because of the colour of her skin. Similarly, people argue that Toke Makinwa’s accent is the reason why she has attained success as an OAP. Eku and Toke are very good at what they do. I would like to believe that their talent irrespective of society’s preferences, got them to where they are.

Lupita N’yongo, the Kenyan actress in in her acceptance speech for the Oscars, said that ‘No matter where you are from, your dreams are valid.’ You should not allow anyone, whether society or the media to make you feel like you have to change who you are to be successful. Yes, Lupita just played a slave in 12 years a Slave, but that was her first featured film role. She acted amazingly and she got an Oscar. How many people get Oscars for their first role! I am anticipating what kind of movie she does next, because that will be the judge of how progressive Hollywood is. Nevertheless, she is beautiful, she is dark skinned and she is talented. She didn’t allow society or her personal insecurities (she opens up in her interviews about them) get in the way of her goals, and look at where she is now. We do have these preferences in Africa. The key is in not allowing yourself to feel inadequate about the colour of your skin, just because you might believe society conditions it.

What do you think? Do you think that the African society harbours these unjust preferences?

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