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Case Study: The Ugliness Called Bleaching In Nigeria. Bleach It Baby!

Case Study: The Ugliness Called Bleaching In Nigeria. Bleach It Baby!

 It was a sunny afternoon in Lagos, the sun was at its peak that Saturday afternoon as I was waiting for a colleague at Ojuelegba Bus-stop. I suddenly saw someone waving at me. I was wondering who the person was. Being short-sighted I couldn’t figure it out so I decided to go and meet the person. I found out it was an old friend I hadn’t seen in a while, except she was the lighter version. She got so light I couldn’t believe my eyes. I almost blurted out: “wow you’ve become so light” but I composed myself.

I began to wonder the reasons for such a radical change. Is it really called for? Do you have to be light-skinned to feel beautiful as a woman?

According to WHO about 77% of Nigerian women bleach, the highest in the world. Anhan isn’t that too much?! I’m sorry I just had to exclaim. 59% of women in Togo bleach and 27% in Senegal.

Nigeria consumes the most bleaching cosmetic products but ironically, we are the first country to produce the first black African miss world 2001 Agbani Darego.

During an interview that Aljazeera conducted, a woman, Joy (not her real name) said bleaching made her beautiful and confident in herself. She emphasised on how the attention she gets from the opposite sex has increased. Does this mean black is not beautiful?

Have ladies been shamed into believing they cannot be considered beautiful if they are dark in complexion? To be honest the disfigurement called bleaching is a threat. Yes I said it, It’s definitely a threat and an ugly one for that matter. Threat? You ask. But I am not hurting anybody, after-all it’s my body. Well you’re hurting yourself and the black community at large.

When some whites (the people we want to be like by all means) see us bleaching, they’d be like, finally they understand the inferiority of their colour and race and it gives them more reasons for them to look down on us. Yes bleaching can promote racism, those that bleach are openly saying I hate my colour and I want to have the white colour.

Bleaching sends a message that the black skin is not considered beautiful. People that bleach are not proud of their skin colours; a person that chooses to bleach has a low self-esteem.


Stuck In The Dinosaur Era.

The sad thing is most blacks believe the fairer you are the more beautiful you are. Apparently we have chosen not to forsake the slave trade ways, we’re steady chilling with our ancestors. Then, the fairer slaves were considered more valuable than their darker counterparts. Such beliefs have somehow found its way into our era. Society/industries tend to put more value on people with lighter skins than people with dark skins.  Even in the fashion/modeling industry it is too rampant. You’d see a casting requirement stating they need “Light-skinned girls”, now I understand that castings usually have prerequisites that are expected of the girls. But why do I rarely see a prerequisite for a dark-skinned girl, does this mean there are no job opportunities for the dark-skinned models?


The Nigerian Entertainment Industry Encourages Bleaching

So focus on  the Nigerian entertainment industry. I mentioned earlier about the bias in the fashion/modeling industry. This not only happens in the fashion industry but also in the Nigerian film industry, Nollywood. “the bleaching, chameleon crowd of Nollywood beauties.” is what the ex-presidential aide Reuben Abati called it. He said and I quote: “The more light-skinned you are, the more acceptable you are in various circumstances, that is. I thought if this was true, then it is a tragedy indeed for the black world. For, once upon a time in the history of the black race, being black was a thing of joy and an instrument of protest”.

Even Corporate world?!

It’s sad that such trend doesn’t just end in the entertainment industry but also thrives in the corporate world. There is a 90% chance that a light-skinned girl will get the job over the dark-skinned girl if both go for the same job interview. These are the kind of things that make some dark-skinned women believe they are not attractive enough and they have to be lighter to be acceptable.


The Ugliness of Bleaching.

I am guessing frequent users of bleaching agents don’t know that most of them contain harmful chemical substances; hydroquinone and mercury are  part of the many harmful substances in these bleaching creams. These chemicals increase the risks of skin cancer and have been said to even affect the kidneys and liver negatively.

So basically, what bleaching agents do is to reduce the amount of natural melanin in our skin in a bid to lighten up the skin. In this process, the skin is more prone to injury and delayed healing process.

During the so called transformation, a lot could go wrong which could lead to anxiety, depression and psychological problems, oh and a very low self esteem. Instead of a boost in self-esteem, most people that bleach eventually suffer a decline when things start going awry and they usually. For some people the main reasons for bleaching is low-self-esteem. Bleaching does not fix self-esteem problems, its is just a facade that fades with time when the repercussions set in.

Bleaching agents make the skin weak and more prone to wrinkles. Imagine a woman looking as old as my great grandmother all in then name of bleaching. Then the bleached areas begin to look burnt and darker! Oh did I mention that those bleaching creams are substandard that’s why they are so cheap to get! Barring the health demerits, these creams can make you have different skin colours and may even wind up making you darker. Bleaching is just a temporal fix. Scrap that, its no fix at all!


My Case-Study

So I took to the road to do a couple of  research. I visited a very popular cosmetic store in Yaba I mentioned earlier. Mama Tega Cosmetics, I wasn’t able to talk to her or the staff ( you won’t believe the amount of people that were present in the store!)

I met an interesting young couple in the store. I asked the guy why he was there. He said he followed his girlfriend to ensure she buys the creams he gave her money for. He explained that he had given her money several times and she ended up spending the money instead of buying the creams. “I want make my girlfriend fine like those girls wey yellow”, he said. I was like, “but your girlfriend fine as she dey now”. He answered, “No oo!! She too black!” The girl in question was not even as dark as I am. If you know me, you’d know i’m dark-skinned.


So I proceeded to ask a couple of other girls I saw entering the store. At first they were hesitant to talk to me (maybe they thought I wanted to get their numbers). They eventually came around and it turned out they were Unilag girls. I was like what are you doing here? Two were like they came for some “toning” creams. I became immediately suspicious at the mention of “toning creams”. I was like, awesome does this mean you’re exfoliating your skin? They go , no oo, you know we’re already chocolate in complexion, so if we tone a litle bit, we’d be lighter. We’re not bleaching oo, they insisted.

Then I meet another girl, she says she has come to buy some toning cream, but she doesn’t know if they sell original toning creams. She seemed to know the the actual meaning of toning cream so I asked her. I said, by toning do you meant to make you lighter. Then she said, not necessarily, it was just to help her deal with dead cells and some spots on her face. I was like oo.

A couple of other girls like that consistently said they were toning not bleaching when they were in actual sense bleaching. Yeah, you won’t believe it even light-skinned girls bleach. What they do is hide behind the term toning and say since they were light already they wouldn’t be bleaching but tonming to “maintain” their complexion when in actual sense they also are bleaching. Why do light-skinned girls bleach? Do they want to bnecome white? I really don’t understand to be honest.

 What Experts Have To Say.

The purpose of lightening creams should be to treat pigmentary disorders and they should be handled by qualified physicians.

What most girls say these days is that they aren’t bleaching, but they’re toning. Most of them seem not to understand the differences between both.

Toning means using a lotion made to cleanse and moisturise the skin and it also help reduce the appearance of pores. Toning does not involve any wearing out or thinning of skin. For instance, the act of cleansing, moisturising and applying sunscreen may successfully lead to a well toned-out skin. Some moisturisers contain Aloe Vera, Neem, honey, Ayurvedic, milk, etc. Regular use of these natural products for instance may successfully give one an even-out toned face.

That is not bleaching. Bleaching on the other hand is simply employing chemical substances in a bid to lighten the skin tone or provide an even skin tone by lessening the concentration of melanin.

Someone already touched on this but I think this she’d be explained a little better. A toner is a lotion or gel applied after a facial cleanser to remove excess dirt, oils, etc and to close the pores. A toning lotion or cream is a mild bleaching cream designed to even out minor skin discoloration like a scar, dark spot, or freckle. A toning cream is mild and not designed to change the whole skin tone, but rather to clear minor spots. A bleach is a seriously invasive product to fully lighten your skin colour like Michael Jackson

To know more about the differences between bleaching and toning, be sure to read myglamosphere’s extensive post about it.


I Love Melanin!

So apparently melanin is responsible for the protection of the skin against the radiation of the sun. So inhibiting the production of melanin by using bleaching agents in the bid to be lighter basically means you’re stripping the skin of it’s natural protector. Doing this will; leave you stuck at having to use sun-screens all the time. I bet those people bleaching did not even know that they had to be using sun-screens.

Oh did I also mention that all these melanin inhibitors used in bleaching creams (arbutin, kojic acid and hydroquinones) have been proven to be hardly effective against pigmentation cause by melanin. hydroquinones on the other hand are cytotoxic to melanocytes (Poisonous to melanin producing cells). The same hydroquinones are said to be mutagenic to mammals. In other words it can make you mutate and when I mutate, it doesn’t mean you become an X-man with super powers (non-comic fans please ignore). It’s something less pleasant and very unpredictable, now why will you want to subject yourself to all these all in the name of getting a lighter skin.


Dark Skin is Flawless

Yes light skin could make someone catchy but I have seen ladies with dark skin that are flawless!! These ladies are more beautiful than their lighter counterparts. These dark skinned women are so proud of their skin colours and it makes me happy. So no more second guessing, no more conceit and hating yourself. I cannot even begin to stress how much melanin is a blessing! There’s this popular thing going on on the internet these days. People post pictures of their mom looking flawless with the tag; “blacks don’t break/crack!”. Basically everyone that sees that begins to appreciate black beauty. Thai just tells you how special dark-skin is.

About The Author

Deji Okufi

Whenever Deji Okufi is not spending all his time scouting for new models or researching the modelling and fashion industry, he's researching ways he can deliver better content for his readers. In an attempt to control his obsession for perfectionism he also studies Digital Marketing.

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