"In Africa, Light skin is shoved in our faces by the media and cosmetic industries in ways that suggests that light skin equals superiority or privilege and not as a skin tone among the many shades of black, none better than the other."
"Then why do we have so many Nigerians bleaching? When I was younger I only knew of one woman that bleached nowadays everyone n their mama is doing it. Where do we think it comes from? Its the same dark vs light issue at the root of it all. Not saying its a national epidemic but its still something that needs to be addressed. I swear I look on IG and it seems there are no more dark skinned girls in Nigeria, or at least there are more light skinned girls than dark skin. Again its not an epidemic but an issue nonetheless"
All these comments and more on Skin Colour issue on Bella Naija, I read casually as I sipped on a tall ice cold glass of smoothie. (Can I tell you about my smoothie; one small cup of low fat yoghurt, ginger, a piece of pineapple, an apple, a slice of water melon, one banana and seedless grapes. Pure heaven!). I read these comments while trying to ignore the neon colored bag that held the skin lightening goodies I'd just purchased.
All the words were written in equal fonts and colours but some words stood out; big, bold and red. Words like; SUPERIORITY, EPIDEMIC, SLAVERY, SELF-HATE, WHITE COLOURISM, ...THEY STILL DON'T FEEL BEAUTIFUL. while I read the comments other words like; low self-esteem, inferiority complex, western influence and the sort jumped around at the back of my head.
I tried to focus but the bright neon bag kept distracting me, so I finally gave in and gave it my full attention. I grabbed it and gingerly peeked into it. Is this who I am, am I a victim of white COLOURISM and black slavery? Do I feel inferior to light skinned girls? Do I suffer from self esteem issues? Hmmm.
Earlier in the day, I walked into a room and I saw my friend's skin. She glowed, Lord how she glowed! I couldn't stop staring at the beautiful flawless skin. I stared and stared. Notice I said she "glowed", not that she was fairer or lighter, no not that. Her skin just had this beautiful shine and texture to it and I adored it. Eventually I asked her "Girl you look good, what products are you using?". Then she smiled and brought each one of them out. It turned out that while they weren't exactly for bleaching, they all had written in some discreet corner; skin lightening. She told me how she used each one and encouraged me to try them.
I've never had a problem with my skin colour, I never knew there was some kind of segregation between the light skinned girls and dark skinned girls before social media so effectively pointed it out to me, and although I've never turned my nose at people who bleach or tone, I just never thought I would. But Dang that skin glowed and I wanted my skin to glow just like that. Is that a bad thing? Biko who no like better thing?
Off I went to the stores to buy these new products that burnt a small hole in my pocket and as the cashier took my cash and handed me my bag, I felt a tiny shiver of excitement run through my spine; Awesome skin here I come!
And if in the process of my quest for that silky smooth lustrous skin I happen to get a shade lighter, anyone is free to point their fingers at me and say I suffer from Low Self Esteem, Inferiority Complex, call me slave to Western dictates and influence... I'll smile and understand where they're coming from. But then I'll roll my eyes, chuckle and mutter "it really isn't that serious, I just want that type of skin; skin that's looking so smooth and shiny, you'll be tempted to bite into it!"
And at the end of the day, isn't that what we all want; to be as beautiful as we can possibly be?
.... So while some might think it's fine to shame people who bleach or tone or whatever, and while some people who bleach or tone or whatever might actually hate themselves and feel so inferior they need to change their skin colour, I sit in my corner reserving my God-given right (yes, I think it's God-given) to do with my own skin what I think best.
That said, I can already see these products going to waste. I forgot to use them last night and this morning... I just don't have the patience, time or energy to be consistent with these things! Whyyyyyyyyyyyyy?! *sobs*