What’s an African market without skin lightening products? Have you ever walked into an African market that didn’t have such products for sale? Whether you’re currently in the United States or living in Africa, it is very common. Usually, these products are strategically placed behind the counter, so you can’t miss it. The sad truth is that it has a high demand in the African market, so if a store owner opted out of selling these products they’d end up losing a lot of business.
Why this topic? Good question. Skin bleaching is a “thing” that we are well aware of, but we don’t spend much time speaking on it. I can’t speak on all of Africa, but personally I know that skin bleaching is big in West Africa. It’s safe to say that majority of us know at least one person who does it or has tried it before. By bleaching, they are practicing self hate whether they notice it or not. Permanently changing an aspect of your appearance means that you are unsatisfied, regardless of the reasoning behind it. In this case, lightening your skin is giving off an impression that you need to be lighter in order to be beautiful or accepted. What’s worse is, in a way, they are replicating history. Whites wanted us to believe that our black skin was ugly and that we were not good enough. Like the whites, we have now become the oppressors of our own kind.
African women are amongst the most beautiful women in the world. Melanated skin is a trait that Africans should be very appreciative of. While “we” are putting in effort to lighten our skin, someone’s is secretly wishing they had darker skin like us. Not only is skin bleaching both physically and mentally detrimental, but many who practice bleaching have children who may witness it. I’m not saying that all children of these women will bleach, but they are introduced to it early and it’s a major possibility that they’ll pick up the habit. What’s more disturbing, is that I’ve heard of some parents who actually encourage their children to lighten their skin because they are too dark.
Although I’ve focused mainly on African women, men and people of West Indian descent also participate in skin bleaching. Out of the West Indies, the ethnicity that seems to bleach the most are Jamaicans. Also, in Nigeria there is a man named Brobinsky who became popular for transforming his image. In the midst of the attention he was receiving, his popularity was shedding light on the fact that men also lighten their skin.
For some, this may be a touchy subject due to personal experiences. To others, this topic may not have an impact. There are people who personally choose to bleach and sadly others start at a young age because family members instruct them too. No matter the reasoning behind it, when you bleach your skin you are still a representation of self-dissatisfaction and risky behavior. The issue of skin bleaching boils down to the mentality that many Africans possess, which definitely needs to change.