Monday, 18 August 2014


Brazilian hair. Check
Red/pink lips. Check
Heavy make-up. Check
Chunky jewelry. Check
Super high heels. Check
And above all, bleached skin. Check.

Welcome to the new trend of the 'perfect woman'. Add an hour glass figure to that and you complete the look. No wonder there are more 'fair', red-lipped, overly made up, Brazilian-hair-carrying, big-bag toting and high-heeled wearing women in society today than in any other time in our history.

The Brazilian hair might not be too much of a problem if the hair carriers do not dry out their boyfriends, husbands and stringers and if all that money spent on the hair is to give a smart brain a nice outlook. And, the weaves are no longer as expensive as they were when they first came out. Plus the brothers from the southern part of the country have devised versions that are far more affordable for the everyday woman. So, the Brazilian tresses are really not a problem.

The red or pink lips are also not a problem, unless your lips are really thick. Then, red/pink lips will make your already full lips fuller. You sure don't want your lips to come into a room before the other parts of your body, now do you?

There are also as many designers and ‘designers’ as there are shades of red and pink, so picking one that is affordable wouldn't be too much of a problem. At the end of the day, all you need to get rid of it is wipe it off before going to bed. The chunky jewelries and high heels can be removed also, though your neck, waist and thighs might be all the worse for it. The same goes for heavy make-up, as there are many make-up removal wipes, jellies and creams for all skin types.

What cannot be reversed, undone, removed, taken off, etc is the bleached skin. Unlike the make-up, the wavy hair and the red lipstick, a bleached skin CANNOT be unbleached. It is as permanent as Michael Jackson's final color and probably just as detrimental. 

Why is this then called the Dencia effect? Simple. Dencia is the modern day definition of the 'perfect woman': long Brazilian tresses, unnaturally fair skin, mostly red or pink lips, hour-glass figure, big bag toting and high heel strutting. Add her 'fame' from her music career (though, none of her songs readily comes to mind), her modeling gigs and her now infamous spot removing cream, and she really seems to scream out how perfect she is. And the more she is brought up in the media, the more young women feel she is the role model for the physical perfection that they seek. 

Her entire outlook is not a problem in itself if it was a simple case of make-up and fake hair. But it goes beyond that! It brings to fore the issue of skin bleaching which has been a major thorn in the lives of many Africans and people of African descent. It is no news that Africans have felt a growing need to lighten their skin color because of thousands of years of physical, emotional and psychological slavery and abuse of the African people. It is also not hidden that the media (in all forms) subtly and in some cases, directly say that 'lighter is better'. Well, what is a problem is the fact that most Africans hold on to the slave mentality and deliberately refuse to shirk off their self hate. 

So far, Africans have the highest variation of skin tones than any other race: from hues as light as Mariah Carey's to shades as dark as Alec Wek's. We are as different as we are unique and yes, we cannot change the fact that many of our skin tones resulted from intermixing of races, but that doesn't change the fact that Africans have great many colors on the color spectrum.

Now, rather than bask in our varying shades, we put on hats of self hate and depreciation and sometimes, transfer that hate unto others. It is then no surprise that statements such as, 'He has a dirty black skin' or 'she will be more beautiful if she was fairer' abound. This has led many dark skinned Africans to always feel unattractive because of the shade of their skin. With the persistence in the reminder that lighter is supposedly better, many times, this low self worth becomes self hate and is characterized by aggression; hence giving credence to the term 'angry black woman or man' as the case may be. 

On the other hand, people with bleached skin are super sensitive when they are questioned about their light skin, as was seen by the blatant display put on by Dencia on the Channel 4 interview. She went there angry and to a major part, ignorant of so many issues. Rather than calmly respond to the questions she was asked, she kept jumping down the throat of the interviewer and the second interviewee. It seems that the height of her ignorance was shown to the world when she said it wasn't her business if a person thought their whole skin was one dark spot. In that statement, she showed how insecure her former skin color had made her and at the same time, told how her new skin color hadn't given her the self confidence she thought it would. 

While she has said that what she does with her body is no one's business but hers (one cannot help but totally agree with her), it became everybody's when she packaged her low self esteem and told the world to buy into it.

More and more black women especially have to deal with self confidence issues surrounding their skin. Though it is easier to follow the crowd, maybe it is high time women realize that they do not need to follow the crowd to look (and be) beautiful. Women have to tell themselves that they are beautiful just the way they are.

A pastor was addressing the single ladies in church when she did something that many thought completely inappropriate. She asked if women looked at themselves in the mirror.  Most of the ladies snickered and wondered what her deal was but they replied in the affirmative. She then went on to ask how many of the ladies looked at themselves while in the nude. The ladies felt uncomfortable and looked everywhere but at the speaker. They thought that was not church discussion and were totally not cool with her asking that question. She then went on to tell them that she dealt with lots of issues surrounding her physical attributes and whenever those insecurities came up, she would always strip herself down to her birthday suit and just look at the mirror. She said whenever she did that, she would always tell herself that God created her skin, her body, her height and her other features to be just perfect for the person she was and was to be. She said that it didn’t change the fact that she had her flaws, but she wasn’t going to be worried about what people defined as ‘perfect’ when the perfect God didn’t see anything wrong with her. At that, most of the ladies started nodding their head in agreement.

As women, it is hard not to follow the trend especially when you watch it on TV, hear it on radio, read it on soft sell magazines and even hear it from good friends. In the end, all of these do not matter and cannot build self confidence if you do not build it yourself. So, take time and be proud of the person you are and appreciate whatever skin tone you boast of. Whether you bleach or not, you will not change the fact that you are African and the issue of color discrimination is more about being African than being dark-skinned. Be comforted in the fact that the term ‘ghostly pale’ is applied to very white women who are in themselves insecure of their own skin color. Also realize that tanning is gaining more grounds in countries dominated by whites and that tells us that the illusion of the ‘perfect color’ is nothing but that; an illusion.

A woman who had really dark skin got married and gave birth to three children: a boy and two girls. Immediately after her third child was born, her husband told her to bleach her skin, as, in his own words, ‘She was too dark for him’. She refused to do that and that was the beginning of her hell in that house. He would up and beat her for no reason, refuse to eat her food, emotionally torment her and in some cases, drunkenly rape her. All of this didn’t hamper her resolve. She was determined to remain the color her Creator made her in. Eventually, hubby dearest left her. She cried, cried and cried some more and then she moved on. She focused her energy on advancing her career and raising her kids. Before she retired, she had risen to the highest position in her parastatal and had raised a pilot, a mathematics guru and an accountant. She refused to live her life on the whims of a man and she was, in all ramifications, better off without that husband of hers. More women should break from that mold of always being dependent on the emotions (or lack of it) of men. Women are more than ornaments to please men!

And to men, no one stops you from having your preferences. Go after your fair, curvy ladies all you want but do not go out of your way to make ladies with darker tones feel small. Your preferences are not a standard for all women. Just as some women admire tall, dark and handsome men, some other could care less. In the end, a woman wants a man who will love, respect, adore and take care of her. The skin tone or easiness-on-the-eye of a man is not a priority to any woman. Men might want all the fair women in the world, but there has to be a consensus point where you want more than physical looks. Would you, as a man, want to be married to a pretty airhead who spends so much money on maintaining her bleached skin but whom, in spite all of that, is totally inept in managing a home or raising kids? There are more pressing issues in relationships and marriage than fair skinned, curvy spouses.

Trying to improve your looks is not a crime. But if all methods to improve your looks still results in low self esteem and possibly cancer, what then is the point?

1 comment:

  1. am very proud of this article and you are very right on all fronts. The society has made us to feel that once ur dark skinned, your just not good enough.Infact, you even hear your friends telling you that you have gotten sooo dark...silly comments like that can be frustrating and all. lots of people will avoid saying or discussing issues like this because it affects us all, one way or the other