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This Bleaching Thing...

Bidemi and Laura sit at the bar, enjoying their cocktails and catching up on gossip. Laura taps Bidemi on her knee,
"It looks like that chic is waving at you"
"Who?" Bidemi asks, looking around. Sure enough she sees a light-skinned lady frantically waving at her and grinning from ear to ear. Bidemi squints, this lady doesn't look familiar to her. She gets up and forces a smile, in order not to appear rude as the lady approaches their table. Even as she comes close Bidemi continues to squint and by now her sides are aching from smiling too hard.
 "Bidemi! Darling!" The lady shrieks as she gets to them and grabs her in a hug. 
Bidemi is confused but there's something vaguely familiar about this lady. She smiles, trying to pretend she knows her, but then taking a closer look, she remembers. Mercy! She was in her class in high school.
"Mercy! OMG I never thought I would see you here. What happened to you? Yyyouu used to be dark!" Bidemi blurts out. 
     The two exchange bb pins and numbers and Mercy leaves. 
 "Jesus! Laura! That girl was a black as the blackboard in our class. She has bleached beyond recognition. God forbid!"

Does the above (or a variation of it) sound familiar to you? Let's talk about bleaching.
      Will I bleach my skin? No. Do I think people who bleach their skin have low self esteem? Honestly, not necessarily. Do I blame them? Hell no. 
      I'll tell you why. We as Africans, Nigerians, black people generally, are to blame. I think (some) people who bleach do have low self-esteem. But don't be too quick to stick your tongue out at them, because we all suffer from low self-esteem or inferiority complex or both. 

      The entire society is to blame! From when we are little, we already see Caucasians as superior to us. When they deign to grace our country we look at them like mini gods. Their white skin makes them better than us. We praise them. We worship them. We give them preferential treatment. 
       Talking about preferential treatment, I remember once, at the airport, there was a large crowd of people struggling to get tickets from Abuja to Lagos. We were told that the flight was fully booked but we all stayed begging, pleading, offering bribes and promises but it all fell on the deaf ears of the staff at the desk. It was a day before Good Friday and the coming Monday was Easter so everyone was trying to get home to their families. It was a messy situation as everyone tried to claw their way through to the front of the desk. Then there came an "oyibo" man. Somehow, even though we were all viciously shoving anyone who tried to stand in the way of us getting closer to the desk, this man made it from the back of the crowd to the front of the desk, with ease. Before you could say "Ticket" the lady at the desk began to attend to him, and very politely at that! Meanwhile the rest of us had been there for over an hour and were blatantly ignored. I and a few others could not help it. We almost "ate her raw"! In fact the oyibo man became so embarrassed that he began to sputter apologies. To which I replied "But you saw all of us here struggling. What did you think we were doing here, acting a movie?" Shioor! I digress, my bad. 

      Some years back a Nollywood actress complained that only light-skinned girls were given the juicy roles. Such injustice! Nollywood movie producers should be sued for discrimination! Right? Well not really. You see, the problem didn't start with them. Remember when you were in primary school and towards the end of the year, children were picked for the school calendar and magazine for the coming year. Remember how they (teachers, photographers, admin staff etc) came to your class and stood in front of the class, necks stretched forth, eyes bulging, searching for the "beautiful ones"? Remember how the first person that they picked was that "half-caste" girl with the beautiful yellow skin, curly hair and pink lips? Remember how that cute light skinned boy was chosen next? Well, if you don't, I do.
      I also remember how in secondary school, in my JS1 every time there was an event that required someone to be the face of the school, or the class or something, Vivian and Deinabo were always chosen. Both light skinned beauties. Well, could you blame us if at that tender age we started seeing ourselves as not good enough, we started thinking "oh, why am I not yellow like Vivian? if I'm yellow like her they would choose me one day", and yet you blame Mercy (in the story above) for bleaching?

     Getting older, just when we think the "colour-discrimination" is over, commercials, billboards etc remind us that it's not. A good example is Orange Drugs, a brand that seems to have a strong dislike for dark skin. I don't know if they've in fact used any dark skinned model but I'm yet to see one. I'm also reminded of when I went to Zenith Bank's Maitama branch in Abuja a few years back. Stepping into it was like stepping into an audition for an Orange Drugs commercial (or what imagined it to be).  Or could it be pure coincidence that all the ladies that worked on the ground floor could be described as "yellow paw paw"? (I'll be honest, that was the first time I thought about bleaching my skin.)

     A gathering of friends hang out, one after the other, the fair girls in the group are approached by men, the dark-skinned ones are practically invisible. I've actually heard some girls complain about this. I remember my friend *Chi once said "babe you get to buy cream o! This your color nor dey move market again". I laughed. It had to be a joke. Right? 
Wrong. When she made this statement I was in a car with a guy so I repeated what she said to him and asked if it was true. A little shamefaced and with his eyes cast down, he admitted that it was. He said that if a light skinned girl and I walked into somewhere together she would be noticed first, and added "there's just something about them". Hmmm.  

      Earlier this year, I was selling T-shirts for guys, some of them had inscriptions like "hello it's Friday, time to party" and some other fun stuff, I went to my friend's place to sell some to him and his friends and they bought a lot. Then one of his friends asked "can you get me one that says 'I only fuck yellow pussies, dark pussies keep off'?" My mind tried to assimilate what he just said but it was interrupted by the boisterous laughter of his friends. They thought it was hilarious and they all agreed. One even said he'll be willing to pay double the price for that T-shirt. phew! I honestly did not know what to say. 

      Try as we may to deny it, in our eyes it actually adds to one's appeal. It is in fact a selling point. The video vixen Venita (Veezee) is a perfect example. That's her selling point as far as I can see, no doubt she's a pretty girl, but aren't we all? Monalisa Chinda's almost translucent skin adds to her appeal. It just makes her look so "clean" .... 
      I don't want to go on and on with this issue, I'm sure I've made my point. In case you still haven't gotten it, here it is. People who bleach are not to blame, SOCIETY IS. So before you want to curse out Rukky Sanda or Toyin Lawani or Toke Makinwa, first ask why they do it. And if you can confidently, and in all honesty, say that being lighter has not in fact, added to their appeal, marketability, fame, etc, then you're free to crucify me. 

We need to change the way we see ourselves, the way we raise our children, we need to make them understand that they're beautiful just the way they are, be it black, brown or yellow. We need to change the way we think, the way we see the person next to us. We need to see beyond the box and place value on the content, unfortunately, I'm not so confident of that happening as these days, image is everything.


  1. Thelma, this post is so on point. we place more value on people because they are lighter skinned yet she criticise people who judge.

  2. smh at I only fuck yellow pussies. some guys are just daft.

  3. your reference to primary school brings back memories. you're quite right. the light skinned children always got better treatment. especially if they're mixed race. I think it all boils down to the inferiority complex of Africans

  4. Thelma, Deinabo F. was dark back den jor. She was just a Rivers beauty, I guess. Nice one. Towseen

    1. Towseen, I remember her to be a lot lighter than me. But you'll notice that my main reference was to Vivian who was the classic "yellow pawpaw" and who got picked for almost everything (during my time in Ipetu). Or am I wrong?

    2. Looool. Vivien was truly a 'yellow pawpaw'.Towseen

  5. Dats just the fact! Light skin people are more attractive! U must notice Mike Ezeruonye before Segun Arinze,right? Jenny

  6. Ah! Segun Arinze? With the eyeballs? Lol! Ladies have a huge role to play in building each other's self esteem. Men will not do it for us cos they're just not thorough. Compliment your dark skinned friends. If the face is not their selling point, how about their legs, figure, hair? De-emphasize the not so great. It has a boomerang effect. You receive as u give praise. I have a very fair mother. As a child, her friends kept teasing me for being dark like my father. She didn't stop them, prob agreed but, she dressed me in bright colours and I never really doubted I was pretty. I did try to lighten my skin as a teenager but d same people telling me I was too dark mocked me. Now I'm happy where I am. I love my fair sister, but I don't envy her her battle with skin imperfections. I tell her she's pretty tho. Spread d love.

  7. Nice post. This issue of skin color goes back to the time of slavery in those days, the lighter skinned slaves where seen as 'delicate' and put to work in the house. They were domestic slaves who did jobs like cooking, cleaning the house, making beds and servicing the master. The black ass slaves were put to work on the field which anyone can guess was a nightmare, not only did they have to endure the torture of the blazing sun, snakes, scorpions and whatever, they also had to endure the merciless lashes from the whips of the slave drivers. So you can imagine that all the slaves wanted to have some semblance of fair skin or at least their children. It made it easier to be bear children for the white master, as their mixed race children would be deemed 'decent' looking enough to serve at the white man's table.

    In a sense, we may not know why we bleach, but me, I believe they do it because of the strong influence the western world has had on us. We subconsciously are always trying to copy their ways for better for worse, to be accepted in some perverse way, to look 'worthy'. This issue is prevalent even in the USA. Me, I'm black and proud!!!! Never will anyone tell me I am not worthy because of my skin color. 10-20 years from now, we'll see who has the last laugh.

    1. Oh wow! I never knew this. I guess like the comedian Basket Mouth said, it's no ones fault. white has always been portrayed as good and black as evil. Eg a Angels are all white with white wings and stuff and demons are blacccccckk. Lol. He gave some other funny yet true analogies.

    2. Lmao! Black like devil, black like shit. Who has seen the devil? Who has seen an angel? Vicious circle.

  8. I have always liked the lighter skinned girls but was never really able to stand girls that are bleached. Forgive me for being judgemental but there has to be something really wrong with you for you to think that bleaching will make you feel better about yourself, in the same way I think there must be something "wronger" with people that date bleached people.

  9. Steele ur comments really annoy me. U just contradicted ur self. If u prefer lighter skinned ple, why wud u blame anyone for bleaching? Anyways back to what I wanted to post before I saw that annoying comment. Even for my church paegent , they choose a light skin chick to play queen esther when they were several beautiful dark skinned gals oh. And she was tall. Even the church . The hypocrisy of it all- elevation church

  10. Olodo, obviously u can't tell the difference between natural light skin and bleached

  11. This anon is always on steele's


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