May 25, 2018

Wait o, why are people bleaching so much? – Abiodun Kuforiji Nkwocha

Wait o, why are people bleaching so much? – Abiodun Kuforiji Nkwocha

My friend went for a high school reunion. When she entered into the venue, as you would expect it was all kinds of exclamations.
“Geegee baby! So this is you????”
But one of the ladies blurted out something in all the excitement.
“Ah Ah! You are still black?”
And then my friend noted something. She was actually the only person that still had her secondary school complexion.
“I have always been black now…”
My people. Black melanin popping complexions are now an endangered specie.
Ok, a tad exaggeration.


But people are bleaching.
This isn’t particularly new but it is so popular and brazen, it is almost breath taking.
I know of a woman who would empty the contents of bleaching tubes and containers into a neutral container. The labels were irritating to her husband but she could not stop at his insistence. She would go to the living room to rub the lotions into her skin.
Growing up, you could tell women who bleach very easily.
“Fanta face, Coca Cola Nyash”
I grew up knowing that it was shameful to change skin colour and people who did so were looked at in a funny way. The knuckles were the almighty teller.
Somewhere along the line, the shame has taken a back seat. The black aunty you knew yesterday is now two shades close to oyinbo.
I am calling it what it is. Bleaching.
Not skin lightening.
Not skin toning.
Not making the complexion even.
Not bringing out your true colour.
Bleaching. Decolorizing.
I made a friend a year ago. Light skinned woman and also very pretty. She has 3 kids and they are all dark. She kept talking about how her husband’s colour is strong. I always agreed because none of her kids had her complexion.
This was till someone put a throwback picture of hers and tagged her. This may be mischief but I have to say, it was shocking.
My friend was originally as dark as I am.
I never said anything to her. Wetin be my own! But she was a bit silly to insinuate that her kids should have taken her bought complexion.
I never thought about what life would have been like if I was light skinned. But apparently, a light skin life is totally an upgrade.
My husband is light skinned. My first two sons are a blend of our complexions. Not as dark as me and not as fair as him. For every child I gave birth to, friends living far would always ask
“Is the baby fair?”
I never really thought twice about it. It did not matter to me.
Now this my third baby is quite light skinned. I can tell you guys categorically that I have never EVER had a baby that received as much attention as this my baby has.
“Oyinbo!!!!”
“Is it a girl? Why is he not a girl? Chai. Wasting all this yellow. Fine boy.”
“This your pikin fine pass all your pikin.”
There was a woman that anytime I entered her office would follow me and keep pinching his cheeks. Then she would look at me earnestly and say
“Please don’t let him go black o. Maintain his colour.”
And then I asked myself, what does ‘maintaining his colour’ entail?
I now hear that this means mixing a baby’s regular body lotion or oil with Funbact A or Skineal.
There are people that have looked at me and him puzzled and blurted out
“But you are black now….”
See my people, life is different when you are light skinned. I have lived the last 9 months with my baby and I know that even a light skinned baby enjoys more attention than a dark skinned baby. How much more adults.


If you walk down the aisle in a supermarket containing lotions and creams, you will see the word ‘White’ and ‘Lightening’ more than you care to count.
My friend travelled to another state (which I won’t mention) and she said that something was just looking odd. Then it occurred to her what it was.
There were so many dark skinned women. In Lagos, most women (I don’t have any statistics here ) either light skinned or getting there.
This my friend is an actress. She has shown me a few calls for auditions and a lot shamelessly state that they want light skinned women.
If you ever stroll into the comment section of skin lightening ads on facebook, you will be shocked at how women go after these products.
“What of the one for knuckles?” is a popular question?
In fact, a woman was looking for how to change the colour of her scalp!
I don’t want to moralize.
I think that beauty comes in varying shades of colours. I am not being patronizing here. But for some reason, the lighter the better?
And these products usually do not come cheap.
I don’t care so much that adults can and do change their skin colour. I can’t tell adults what to do and feel. I do worry about the feelings of inadequacy that young dark skinned girls will have to fight.
To use chemicals and take pills so that you can feel pretty is not something to aspire.
But it isn’t my business and I am learning to “face my front.”
If it is putting food on their tables and improving their chances in life, who am I to ask them to live according to my values.
Me sha, no woman should come to me and ask me why I am still dark.

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