Monday 18 August 2014

Bleaching To Fit In

Image of Bleached Skin
Bleaching Skin.
Image: The Inquisitr.
Brazilian hair? Check.
Painted 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', painted-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 some of the carriers do not dry out their accounts acquiring the look. Even though weaves are no longer as expensive as they were when they first came out, and the brothers from the southern part of the country have devised versions that are far more affordable for the everyday woman, they are still quite expensive. However, the Brazilian tresses are really not a problem.

The painted lips are also not a problem, unless your lips are really thick and you are choosing red or bright pink. You know those colors make your already full lips fuller. 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 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 make-up, borrowed tresses and red lipstick, a bleached skin cannot be unbleached. It is a permanent change that may or may not be detrimental to your life.

Image of Uneven bleached Skin.
Uneven bleached Skin.
Image: CNN
In spite of this knowledge, many black and brown women can’t wait to bleach their skin. They even go beyond whitening their skin to encouraging *read bullying* other women to do same.

Take Dencia for example.

Dencia is the new definition of the 'perfect woman': long tresses, unnaturally fair skin, mostly red or pink lips, hour-glass figure, toting big bags and strutting in impossible high heel. 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 becomes the poster child for skin bleaching. 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 may not a problem in itself if it was a simple case of make-up and fake hair. But it goes beyond that.

The issue of skin bleaching has been on the front burner for many years now. Africans have felt a growing need to lighten their skin color because of thousands of years of physical, emotional and psychological slavery and abuse from the colonialists. The media subtly (and sometimes directly) says that 'lighter is better'. As a result, many Africans want to ‘dilute’ or completely erase the melanin in their skins to fit into a more acceptable tone.

So Africans with skin tone like Mariah Carey are treated much better than those who look like Alek Wek or even Khoudia Diop. Many don’t care that in spite of their skin tone, all these women are black and descendants of Africans. A mix of the races has resulted in a broad spectrum of glorious melanin goodness. Rather than bask in our varying shades of awesomeness, we put on hats of self-hate and depreciation and sometimes, transfer that hate unto others. It isn’t surprising that statements such like, 'he has a dirty black skin' or 'she will be more beautiful if she was fairer' are tossed around with no holds barred. This has led many dark skinned Africans to feel unattractive, unappealing, and  unwanted.

Image of Shades of Us
Shades of Us.
Image: Yahoo Entertainment.
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. 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 feel 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 business when she packaged her low self-esteem and told the world to buy into it.

Though it is easier to follow the crowd, maybe it is high time women realize that they do not need to do so to look (and be) beautiful. We have to tell ourselves that we are beautiful just the way we are. This is reminiscent of something a pastor said when addressing the single ladies in church. She asked if women looked at themselves in the mirror. Most of the ladies snickered but replied in the affirmative. She then went on to ask how many of the ladies looked at themselves while in the nude. Most 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 strip herself down to her birthday suit and just look at the mirror. She said whenever she did that, she would 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. The ladies learned a valuable lesson that day.

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 or social media and even hear it from good friends. In the end, you have to build your own confidence. Take time, do some self-analysis, 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.

Heard of a dark skinned woman who 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 as he asked and that was the beginning of hell in her home. He would up and beat her for no reason, refuse to eat meals she prepared, emotionally torment her and in some cases, drunkenly rape her. She still refused to bleach her skin. She was determined to remain the color her Creator made her in. Eventually, hubby dearest left her. She cried, cried and then some 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. Women are more than ornaments to please men!

Trying to improve your looks is not a crime. Neither is bleaching. But if you have to harm yourself to ‘feel good’, is it even worth it?

Image of Shades of Black Women.
Shades of Black Women.
Image: Melanin Majority. 

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