You’l notice many women and indeed a few men have unusually light faces while the rest of their bodies are darker.
Remember Fela’s “Fanta for face Coke for yansh”.
In many parts of Africa, lighter-skinned woman are considered more beautiful, are believed to be more successful and more likely to find marriage.
But ofcos, dat na lie…
Enter beauty products, bleaching creams to be precise. Or toning creams as they are often called. These creams are packed with harmful chemicals, but what the heck! Who cares?! Shebi na make my skin yellow? Abeg bone!
The World Health Organization has reported that Nigerians are the highest users of such products: 77% of Nigerian women use the products on a regular basis. They are followed by Togo with 59%; South Africa with 35%; and Mali at 25%.
Clearly, the cause of this partly rests on self-esteem issues.
A recent study by the University of Cape Town suggests that one woman in three in South Africa bleaches her skin. While skin-lightening creams have been used by some South Africans for many years, they have become more common recently with the influx of people from countries such as our very own Naija and Democratic Republic of Congo, where they are even more widespread.
Few Africans are aware of the concentration of the toxic compounds that are contained in the products in the market. Though, more people are getting aware of these. Serious attention must be paid on the need to educate people about these toxic products. Dermatologists say they are seeing more and more patients whose skin has been damaged by years of bleaching. i recall giving a talk on this topic during my NYSC days, i recall that very few ladies cared. Even when they were typical examples themselves.
Why is the black skin seen as something which needs changing? Some people, if not most, believe the white skin is better because it is lighter. i think songs that praise the light skinned woman over the darker skinned one where you’d hear the term “yellow sisi” also has its role in shaping the average lady’s mentality, making her believe that if she were lighter she’d attract more men.
And medically, the black skin has more Melanin and is able to prevent harmful effects of the sun’s rays. Using these creams that contain the wrong chemicals would just remove the Melanin and exposes the skin to cancers. And there’s why there are rising cases of cancer an Africa, especially Nigeria.