The other day I went into a super market to get my toiletries, I walked up and down the isle searching for my usual body lotion but I couldn’t find it. I bought the other items on my list and decided to ask the sales person at the end of the isle. This was how our conversation went.
Me: I am looking for Dr. Palmer’s Cocoa Butter
Him: e no dey
Me: what of the Olive Butter?
Him: We no get those products o, (I turned to leave, but he continued) but why fine girl like you dey use that kind cream? You fine o, but if you lighten your skin small (I raised an eye brow up) no be bleach, just tone your skin small, you go dey shine.
I stared at this guy for like 10 seconds, opened my mouth but I didn’t know where to start from. He genuinely believed what he told me, and there was a slight grin on his face, perhaps expecting me to ask him for the skin lightening product, or thank him for the revelation.
Another time I wanted to buy powder, the lady selling gave me a shade way lighter than me so that “you can look bright”.
Walk into any shop selling soaps and body lotions, just any one and notice the amount of skin lightening products on the shelves. It is alarming. I started consciously looking out for women bleaching, the rate is too much. Nigeria is the most populous black nation on earth, we didn’t have to deal with racism like black Americans, or the South and East Africans thanks to mosquitoes still bleaching has become a thing with us.
I am always amused when I see a Nigerian boy say “I don’t like dark girls, I can only date/marry a fair woman.” I know girls who have bleached their skin ghostlike because the man they are with asked for it. Girls you always hear say things “if only I was light skinned.” What exactly is wrong in being black?
‘Who taught you to hate the texture of your hair? Who taught you to hate the colour of your skin? Why do you bleach, to be like the white man? Who taught you to hate the shape of your nose and the shape of your lips? Who taught you to hate yourself from the top of your head to the soles of your feet?
I once saw the photo of a dark skinned girl on Instagram. I thought she was unique and beautiful, but in the comments section, someone said, “black like the devil.”
Who told you the devil is black? I think it is time Nollywood and other African film industries start fighting back against that narrative. Portray the devil as a white person, that wouldn’t be too difficult would it? There are so many to pick from, just look back in history from colonial ‘masters’ to apartheid rulers, slave traders, slave owners, the list goes on. If the devil can be black, it should be white too.
All I am saying, dear dark skinned person, you are beautiful the way you are.