Remember the popular evergreen song, ‘Yellow fever’ by the Afro Beat creator, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, the one we used to call Abami Eda, released in 1976?
In the song, Fela took on people who bleach their skins, calling them yellow fever with coca-cola face and Fanta legs. This song was inspired by the fact that black people, especially women, had the tendency to bleach their skins to look ‘whiter’ than their natural black colour.
But are they really to blame? Nah.. Our society has, over time, accepted the fair skin colour as the gold standard of beauty.
Another popular musician of the 70s, Dr. Victor Olaiya, in his hugely popular hit ‘Omo Pupa’ had this line: ‘Omo pupa o, Omo pupa l’emi nfe’ expressly stating his desire for a light skinned or complexioned lady. Other musicians have also paid their tributes to ladies who are fair or ‘yellow’ in colour.
The society adore them. Remember ‘Toyin Tomato’ of the Super Story TV drama? Like the Abami Eda sang in the ‘Yellow Fever’ album, ‘if you are not naturally ‘yellow’, your money can buy it for you but with it comes the baggage of yellow face and black buttocks.’
Bleaching or skin whitening or skin lightening or skin toning, no matter the term used, often involves using chemicals incorporated in creams or lotions to lighten up the tone or colour of the skin.
Many of these chemicals are considered to be dangerous and can result in significant short and long term harm to the skin and the body as a whole.
Melanin is responsible for determining one’s skin colour. Melanin is a pigment that is produced by cells known as melanocytes in the skin. This pigment comes in different shades, depending on the genetic makeup of the individual. The more melanin you have, the darker you will be. Most skin-lightening treatments or creams either reduce or block melanin production.
The multi-million Naira question becomes – why do people bleach or tone their skins? Simple. Fair-skinned individuals tend to be regarded as better looking and attract complements.
Music stars and celebrities who control opinion and set fashion trends often do it and make it look classy. To most of them, it’s a show of wealth and their acquired status.
Bleaching creams, on account of their chemical composition, can cause harmful skin conditions and affect the general well being of the individual who bleach. The skin becomes thinner, prone to injuries and infections and loses its ability as a protective shield.
There is also increased risk of sunburn and skin cancer. The risk of kidney and liver damage are also increased.
The bottom line is that except for those toning for medical reasons and under medical supervision, most other people do it as an expression of some levels of body dysmorphism, low self-esteem and colonial mentality.
Body dysmorphic disorder is a mental disorder in which the individual is worried about one or more perceived defects or flaws in their appearance. They are obsessed with their appearance and body image and may begin to bleach to fix the perceived flaw.
To the bleaching sis or bro, the truth is that you don’t have to be ‘yellow’ to look cute and great; black, like they say, is beautiful and gorgeous. But then, if you choose to bleach, just remember that you can end up having a ‘fanta’ face and ‘coca-cola’ fingers and buttocks.
In the worst case scenario, you could just become a modified Ojuju Calabar.
If you know, you know.