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Do Africans want a change in skin colour?

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It is no longer a matter of secrecy that skin lightening or bleaching is the order of the day among African Women and some of their male counterparts.

The question then is, why bleaching? It is a known fact that some African persons still see dark skin as either a disease or have an inferior feeling for their fellow Africans who are light skinned or it is borne out of mental slavery to be as ‘white’ as their colonizers in complexion. Whatever the case, these fellows are aware of the medical implications of such acts but still move on to become ‘whitened.’

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What, then, is skin bleaching? Skin bleaching refers to the use of products to lighten dark areas of the skin or achieve an overall lighter complexion. These products include bleaching creams, soaps, and pills, as well as professional treatments like chemical peels and laser therapy.

Due to the cost of these products used to lighten the skin, some Africans, particularly Nigerians, have improvised local and cheap methods to become ‘whitened’. They use toxic products used in bleaching kinds of cotton or clothing materials, for example, ‘hypo’. Are you surprised, too?

Yes, I was speaking to a friend some months ago in Lagos, and then a friend I used to know in primary school came around. To God be the glory, I could hardly recognize her, not because she had grown taller or fatter. But the girl I used to know some years ago used to be ‘dark in complexion’ or, I should say, melanin. But here in front of me was the same person in another complexion; the right word to describe her should be ‘roasted plantain’.

Let me narrate her story or journey on becoming ‘whitened’. I was told she used a combination of warm water and ‘hypo’ to bathe. She did this after she was unable to continue buying the expensive products she was using from the onset to change her skin colour.

At this point, I think when we hashtag ‘black lives matters’, we should back it up with ‘tell our African mothers to stop bleaching our new babies’. Yes! This is the new phase we have found ourselves in. We are not only imitating the West in languages, and modes of dressing anymore. It has gotten to the point of Africans wanting to give birth to ‘light-skinned babies’ or getting it artificially by bleaching.

It has been suggested that their male(African) counterparts are the cause of the recent rise in the bleaching of skin among females(Africans). This is so because most African men prefer a light-skinned lady to a dark-skinned lady. They see the light-skinned as more beautiful than the latter. But whatever the cause or the reason, it has to stop.

The consequences of bleaching are so numerous that it can lead to deadly skin diseases or even death from a medical perspective. On a cultural ground, the bleaching of skin to become whitened shows the dwindling state of our pride as a people or Africans generally.

So it will suit me to say, that if you are bleaching your skin, you are not supposed to be seen talking about “Black lives matters” because you are a testament to the mental slavery posed by the period of Slave trade and Colonialism in Africa. The medical implications of skin bleaching include cancer, Nephrotic syndrome, dermatitis, mercury poisoning, steroid acne, and Exogenous ochronosis. The list is endless.

Here’s an excerpt from the Guardian:

“It’s difficult to pinpoint how many people are using skin-lighteners – legal or otherwise – in the UK, but around the world, business is booming. In 2017, the global skin-lightening industry was worth $4.8bn (£3.4bn), and it is projected to grow to $8.9bn by 2027, fuelled by a growing middle class in the Asia-Pacific region.’’ 

”Skin-lightening products include creams, scrubs, pills, and even injections designed to slow the production of melanin. Many of these are created by pharmaceutical giants such as Unilever, Proctor and Gamble, and L’Oreal and come with massive marketing budgets. A World Health Organization study found that 40% of Chinese women regularly use skin-lightening creams. That number is 61% in India and 77% in Nigeria. It stands to reason that diaspora communities will be influenced.”

In summary, the sales of bleaching creams are on the rise, whether legal or illegal and various states pinpoint Africa as the epicentre of such acts, all in the name of becoming whites and not the whites using such products to continue to maintain ‘whiteness.’ This still boils down to the notion of Eurocentric ideas that everything black is bad and white is good. The orientation of Africans about their skin has to change today because tomorrow might be too late.

 

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