During the social media campaign “10 days of body talk“, a lady asked, “is skin bleaching also a way of getting better, just like how fat people do physical exercises to lose weight and get better, why is it so much of a great deal for someone to bleach their skin in order to attain a better complexion?”
Honestly, I was quite impressed with her question because don’t we all just want to get better, grow, develop and be the best versions of ourselves? while she spoke, I kept asking myself these questions…
What is “getting better?”
Really, what is getting better? fair skin or dark skin? who said which was better? Do you really know which is better or are you allowing society and fashion trends decide for you? Using the same example of Sports, there is no best size, rather there is a healthy size. In the same light, there is no best complexion. Beauty, they say lies in the eyes of the beholder, but I hope you never forget that you are a beholder too. Every detail about you including this skin tone is yours to behold; confidently, unapologetically, YOU.
At what cost?
Apart from low self esteem, the thing with skin bleaching is that it destroys the skin over time. The adverse effects of skin bleaching take a lot of time and resources to be reversed and mind you, some are irreversible. At what length are you willing to go just to “get better” and if you are using something that in a long run damages your skin, then can you really say you are getting better? So to me, when it comes to skin, getting better means loving your skin and giving it the best treatment that will nourish it not ruin it. Yes, you can make your skin glow while maintaining your complexion and without necessarily bleaching it.
In a world where success, beauty and fame have been attributed to light skin, a few renowned Nigerian actresses who haven’t bleached have proven otherwise.
Skin whitening, also known as skin lightening and skin bleaching, refer to the practice of using chemical substances in an attempt to lighten the skin or provide an even skin color by reducing the melanin concentration
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), 77% of women in Nigeria use skin lightening products, the world’s highest percentage. Below is a list of renowned Nigerian actresses who haven’t bleached.
1. Genevieve Nnaji
This 40-year old director of the first Nigerian Netflix original is a Actor, Producer, Director, Screenwriter, Entrepreneur, Former Model. The movie, LIONHEART, was also the first Nigerian movie to win Oscar awards. Genny, as her fans call her, with her beautiful dark skin, nailed it too in the modeling industry as she became the face of many commercial brands. Among which Lux and MUD just to name a few. She remains an inspiration to millions of people in the world especially women of color and career women.
2. Ini Edo
The Nigerian actress, Ini Edo, is popularly known as brown sugar by her Instagram family. She has over 7 million followers on the app. She’s been in the movie industry for close to 20 years. Aside from her excellent acting skills, her dark skin complexion has always been admired by many. Despite her career ascent, it is soothing to know that she remains ever glowing in her beautiful skin. Hence, she earned her spot on my list of top 10 Nigerian actresses who haven’t bleached
3. Uche Jumbo
Uche Jumbo is an Actress, Film Producer, director and Writer. Amongst the films she’s produced, Damage addresses the issue of domestic violence. She’s a wife, mother and career woman. And she didn’t let complexion be a hinderance to achieving her dreams.
4. Stephanie okereke
When it comes to Nollywood, Stephanie Okereke is a legend. She’s an actress, director and model. She has received so many awards for best actress. She was also the runner up for the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeriabeauty pageant of 2002. This proves that you can be dark skinned and still make it in modeling industry. Therefore, she deserves her spot on my list of top 5 Nigerian actresses who haven’t bleached.
5. Kate Henshaw
Kate Henshaw is also one of the veterans of Nollywood. She is an actress, politician, fitness coach and mother. Doesn’t she look beautiful for a 48th- year old woman?
The purpose of this article is for us blacks to see that contrary to what society says, we are beautiful. And we can be successful too! Fortunately, some African countries have started banning skin bleaching products. However, Banning skin bleaching products won’t work as long as fair skin is linked with beauty and success. Just like most things, skin bleaching has it’s pros and cons.
Which other Nigerian actress should be on this list? Comment below if you want to see a part 2.
Skin bleaching can be defined as the removal of the upper layer of one’s skin through the application of creams that contain chemicals. It can also be defined as the permanent or temporal changing of a person’s complexion through the rubbing of various creams that are capable of changing the skin.
How does it work?
Skin lightening products work by reducing a pigment called melanin. Melanin is that thing which makes the skin look darker. So, the greater the melanin, the darker the skin. Hence, applying those skin lightening products disrupts melanin production therefore making the skin to lighten.
Most lightening agents contain active ingredients such as hydroquinone, mercury and corticosteroids.
Jobs and success
Isn’t it strange? That in the 21st century you need to be light skin in order to get some particular jobs. Well if you doubt it please know it is so true and I can testify to that.
I remember during one long holiday I got to work at a certain bakery and I was told that mostly light skinned girls could work as receptionist. I’m sure you already guessed why. It is certainly a good business strategy to not only attract customers but also to keep them coming.
That’s smart… right? but I just begin to wonder, what if all jobs were meant just for light skin women, what would become of dark women ehhh!!! Luckily, some dark ladies are using their skin color to be successful. Find out here
By the way, why would customers be attracted mostly to the lighter skin in the first place ? This brings me to the next point…
Generally, we’ve been made to believe that a light skin person is more acceptable in the society. We even have some body lotion companies saying ‘white is purity’ in their adverts.
No wonder, I came across an advert in which a Chinese lady put a dark man into a washing machine and the end result was a white man whom she adored. Now how funny is that? does it mean that we dark people are somewhat impure? and if light skin is fair, is dark skin unfair ? ( I could really use the thinking emoji now).
Most women engage in skin lightening because light skin is associated with higher status and privilege. Some women also bleach in order to attract high status mates. It is also believed that lighter skin looks better in photographs and the images usually get more views when posted on social media.
Skin lightening products can be used medicinally for the treatment of post inflammatory pigmentation. These are dark spots that appear because of injury to the skin or inflammation like acne.
It could also be used to remove discolored patches that appear on the face due to excess sun exposure or hormonal changes during pregnancy or as a result of birth control pills.
FDA recommends a short term use of hydroquinone (that is not more than 5 months) with a maximum dose of 2%. However, there’s still a lot of controversy with respect to hydroquinone as it has been proven to be carcinogenic hence increasing the risk of skin cancer
It is indeed true that all that glitters is not gold because when these products are used, they get into the bloodstream thereby affecting organs like the brain, kidney and liver. So while everything may be going on well on the outside, the inside might not look so good.
Here are some of the side effects of bleaching
Thinning of the skin
Uneven color loss
Redness, swelling and irritation
A burning or stingy sensation
Dark grey spots
Visible blood vessels in the skin
Aside from the health disadvantages, skin bleaching is also very expensive and time consuming. Also, you lighten your skin to look pretty for NOW, then spend the rest of your life trying to reverse the process through medication. Seriously what’s the point?
It is true that you might come from a family where bleaching is normal. Probably your mum or aunt have been doing it for a long time and you want to do it too but please don’t!
I can’t count the number of times that I’ve been approached by strangers and warned never to change my color. A majority of these people where often women who had bleached. If bleaching was all sunshine and roses then I think they would rather be inviting me to join the crew.
I would never forget the voice of one of my mothers in the quarter saying in french and very authoritatively, “ma fille ne change jamais ta couleur heinn” and yes, she’s been bleaching for as long as I’ve known her.
Another time in church after service, an elderly woman approached me. To be honest, I thought she wanted to probably criticize my makeup or dressing. Not that I wasn’t well dressed oh but you know how this women can be nah!
To my greatest surprise, full of love and honesty, she said,” you are very beautiful my daughter, don’t change your color.” It’s only after that I looked at her closely and noticed that she had been bleaching and might have been suffering from some of it’s side effects.
What amazes me is that even people who aren’t dark skin do bleach. I’ve even heard of light skin people bleaching too and I’m like what do they really want! Of course, you should know that this doesn’t concern just the women because men do bleach too.
I met a girl at a salon and she was like if she has the money she would skin bleach. How did the conversation even start? I simply told her she had a lovely brown skin but unfortunately, she rather attacked the hairdresser who’s dark too, saying all sorts of negative things about dark skin. Thank God, the hairdresser was very confident about her color.
To you who’s planning to bleach when you get the chance to, I hope you know what you’re up against. Like I always say, whether black, brown or light skin we’re all beautiful so let us accept and celebrate our differences because that is what makes us a unique and special people.
The choice is yours to make, I can only hope that you choose wisely! Meanwhile here’s a letter personally addressed to you from me Dear Black Beauty
I love my color ( these quotes help me stay confident) and I’m not going to change it, what about you?