Colorism exists, but vanity causes bleaching
It's time to stop blaming our problematic trend on colorism and effects of colonialism, own your nonsense.
Pulse used this premise to examine since news broke that a certain former honorary member of the 'Kardashian clan', Blac Chyna was coming to Nigeria to sell 'bleaching creams', the issue of bleaching and colorism have once again become central to pop culture and social media conversations.
These days, we idolize supposed bleaching experts like Bobrisky, Tonye Pela and Pelsi International across social media and ask them for their ‘skin routines,’ but we criticize Blac Chyna to conjure up some admirable levels of purist hypocrisy. That's however not the issue now.
The issue is how we keep blaming colorism for our poor bleaching choices and not the vanity of adulation and being th cynosure of all eyes. Colorism is an issue, but what gives it importance is mostly vanity. Let's examine the problem as a whole first...
The bleaching problem
Over the past 8 years, Nigerian comedians and social media bants have bodied the ‘light-skinned trend’ amongst Nigerian millennials to intensify the stigma that built up over the 20 years preceding 2010. The formulated ‘laiskin’ is now a colloquialism of lighthearted importance.
There’s a madness going on. You can barely walk 100 meters a day in major Nigerian cities without seeing a fake light-skinned person.
Out of the 30 light-skinned Nigerians you encounter a day, your mind fixates on at least, 10 to examine for evidence of bleaching and ‘color-blocking’ on body parts; the blatant discord amongst the body colours with facial colors reddening while the body remains yellow or ivory — fascinating.
You almost get to ask the worried custodian of your mind where these people get the guts to walk around their youths and mess their futures up with that obsession with bleaching to become ‘Grandma/Grandpa smelly’ in 50 years.
The only thing saving a lot of people is the cloth on their backs; protecting both us, the onlookers and they, the bearers from the utter eyesore of their gradually rotting skin that near conjures the putrid smell only a bad egg can generate.
Asides bad skin, the health risks are documented. You people need help. Nonetheless, certain people are proud of their ‘perfect skin tone’ and would-be a transformation from a dark-skinned person to a shiny bororo.
Kemisola, 50, tells Pulse that, “I was in my 20s when I started using lightening cream because I also wanted to be the cynosure of all eyes whenever I walked past. Men used to like light-skinned women then.”
She continues, “For some of my friends though, it was accidental. They started using creams to polish their skins — which ended up bleaching.
“They couldn’t stop because it would have ruined their bodies. And no, it wasn’t Tura.”
It didn’t start now, however. The slay mamas of the 80s and 90s were also accused of bleaching just like certain male kings of the silver screen.
ALSO READ: Why are so many Nigerian bleaching?
Tura soap and blue-headed lotion combo didn’t become a household thing for nothing. There was a process and a reputation forged in the hands of evil blacksmiths, chiseling great skins into weapons of timeless odor wars.
Destinies were being ruined and nobody realized. A lot of people now look like Mother Gagoo or pre-touch mosaic without the nails or mesh. Thank God for iPhone Cameras and foundation, it would have been a bloodbath.
Speaking to another lady who bleaches, Ruby (fake name), a 25-year-old Banker says she bleached because she felt a lighter skin tone would make her more attractive.
For someone like Nigerian cross-dresser Bobrisky though, he wrote in a 2017 social media post that he bleached because it was his hustle. He also claimed he was proud of it, telling other people to find their hustle. At least someone is owning it…
Posting a picture of when he still had a darker skin tone, he writes, “Some of u all will still say I bleached my skin lol? Yes, I bleached my skin and am happy? cos that is one of my most income? coming in into my account because I sell my cream to people. Hate or love, is known over 20 countries if not worldwide.”
Another subject, Vivian, 23, a call-girl speaks in pidgin, “I been bleach am (her skin) because of customers dey like light-skinned women with big baka (ass). When I first come Akure, na only 3k per day I dey make. Now, na like 7k every day.”
However, the 'elites' still blame colorism
Since the issue of Blac Chyna broke, Nigerians have been on interactive platform, Twitter directly stating or implying that bleaching is a direct implication of colorism. See some tweets here;
In similar fashion, a March 4, 2018 article by Nigerian feminist and writer, Cisi Eze for Bella Naija seemed to discuss colorism as internalized racism which contributes to phenomena like bleaching. She wasn’t entirely wrong.
Colorism is a Nigerian problem, nigh a global problem. Racism informs colorism and even African-Americans bleach these days. Case in point: Blac Chyna.
Asides that, that 2002 HG Zero Mercury survey placed India at number one with an estimated annual consumption of bleaching products running into over 700 million.
We cannot deny the problem with colorism. In the testimonies of Pulse’s subjects for this article is the subtle or even pronounced influence of colorism.
In that article, Cisi Eze noted how the movie industry sometimes places a sizeable onus on skin tone before employment or casting.
In similar fashion, a Nigerian company recently released a job ad where it specifically requested a light-skinned woman for a front-desk role. It got bashed for it.
In the cadre of consideration for opportunities, placing lighter skin tones on priority lists is a sad reality, in a country already robbed of promises of unity by systemic tribalism.
Just as blaming colorism on white people and effects of colonialism is severely myopic, as it preaches a victim complex and a revenge plot against colonialists, blaming bleaching entirely on colorism is severely lazy and myopic.
We might never be able to separate colorism from bleaching, but there are concepts of lazy choicesand vanity
People should accept some responsibility for bleaching, colorism isn't a human that forced them to bleach while wielding a gun. The persuasive factor, even amidst colorism is vanity, expressed via lazy choice.
Just like people are bleaching and blaming it on colorism, dark-skinned people are excelling and #MelaninPopping has become a social media trend that even yellow-bone women now aspire to.
In the field where a ‘bleacher’ has chosen the ‘strategic’ shortcut to acceptance, dark-skinned people have also succeeded. Screaming colorism as the fundamental reason to bleaching is lazy.
A lot of people have not even stopped to examine the true extent of this, ‘colorism’. They’ve just conjured up this world where colorism makes them the victims and not perpetrators of this bleaching madness.
A light-skinned woman might be striking, but you’ll find men and women who prioritize darker skin tones in the opposite sex. People like what they like, we have just elevated lighter skin to a pedestal of importance without true evaluation.
In fact, lighter skin tones get objectified these days and called abusive names like, ‘bororo,’ ‘yellow paw-paw’ and other light-hearted nigh derogatory attachments.
When it comes down to it, colorism isn’t the reason you bleach, it’s the excuse you chose to preach. A lot of people want millions, yet are still making an honest living either for fear of being caught or fear of conscience.
Your vanity and thirst for adulation or even competition are why you bleach. There is no frustration to it. Even in the movie industry or showbiz in general, dark-skinned actors and vixens thrive in the thousands.
Just like companies crave light-skinned women, companies employ dark-skinned women. In such a case lies the ground for choice and a prerogative.
Thousands of companies more don’t have such standards. Your vanity to be more attractive with people of the opposite sex flocking around you and to have more vain confidence in yourself is why you bleach.
Society appreciates both light and dark skin tones in equal measure. Beauty has never been limited to one skin tone, neither has there ever been a preponderance of beauty to one skin tone. The need to be accepted and 'adored' is why you bleach, not colorism and it reeks of severe self-esteem issues.
We have all just neglected that a lot of people like light-skin and place a premium on it, just like others like darker skin tones with a near fascist declaration that only dark-skinned women can be beautiful.
We all need to get over that victim complex, vanity and evaluate with a clear line of sight. Even in the land of colorism, you chose to bleach because you wanted to match. That means, blame yourself and your vanity.
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