Skin bleaching, a rising trend in Africa: What Africans think of skin whitening

Cameroonian pop star Dencia.
Cameroonian pop star Dencia, one of the high profile African to bleach her skin. She also fronted a skin whitening product called ‘Whitenicious’
  • Skin whitening products is a booming trade in Africa.

  • Though declared health threatening, no African country has formally banned imported products.

It is an established fact that the African holocaust of colonialism and or imperialism distorted the psyche of black people. The impacts are manifested in various forms; one of which is skin bleaching.

What’s even more damaging is the illusion that bleaching is the gateway to social acceptance.

Africans who hate their natural dark complexion and try to do away with it are surely buying into the ill-conceived concept that ‘Africans need to re-colonized’ because they have no brains of theirs.

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In an apparent attempts to mask the evil, both men and women who bleach even use various linguistic nuances to mask the evil.

While toning, for example, is considered the lesser of the evils, bleaching is the more extreme form of skin removal.

In Africa sexual and social benefits are often measured by the degree of skin complexion; black skin is associated with social disadvantages, while brown or fair skin is believed to be more beautiful.

Cameroonian pop star Dencia, by all standards is a brilliant singer and her music might be right up there with the best. But her decision to whiten her skin caused quite a stir.

As if that was not bad enough Dencia went the extra mile by also fronting a skin whitening product called ‘whitenicious’ . The singer defended her decision to whiten her skin, but she remains one of the high profile Africans to shun her natural complexion.

According to the World health Organization, Nigeria has the highest number of women and even men who bleach their skin.

Nigeria’s position puts the country ahead of other African nations like Togo, Ghana, Senegal and Cameroon where skin bleaching is commonplace.

Skin lighting products and other cosmetics are booming in Africa making the sector a multi billion dollars business.

Both men and women who bleach their skin can be easily identified by the uneven patches of darker skin fading away and the dark colour still retained by the joints, the elbows and knuckles.

Bleaching went woefully wrong for these women trying to run away from their identity

Those who successfully bleach look almost like ghosts, because even with the new skin tone on top, there is an underlying layer of dark skin that makes them look slightly off-colour.

Usually the preferred method is to use lightening lotions and soaps. Some may use stringent facial cleansers, body scrubs, and even anti-fungal creams in order to bring out what they claim to be their inner beauty.

Removing the melanin not only exposes Africans to physical damages but it is also a shameful way of cultural denigration. They might bleach, but they are not going to bleach the ‘Africaness’ in them.

Listen to Thorny Issues In Africa on Continental radio where Africans share their views on skin bleaching. Get CRS radio app on google play store free of charge

Ange Ngu Thomas

Author: Ange Ngu Thomas

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