Growing up a Light skinned Nigerian girl, I have been told a million and one times to not stay under the sun too long, so I don’t get too dark. I have been told, “Shea butter and coconut oil will make you dark so stop using it”.

I’ve been prescribed and have tried tons of lightening creams to make me brighter since my “natural” colour has been darkened a bit by the sun and that was “really bad”.

It took me a very long time to ask my self this question: “what is really wrong with being dark? What exactly is the problem?

Why do we always act like the dark skin is some disease or bad luck?

It was then I sat down to really think about the idea of colourism in depth and how it has affected a lot of us without us even knowing.

I began to also realise how I’ve been treated differently from a lot of my dark skinned friends when it came to a lot of things.

I also realised why people kept on going on about why you should stay away from the sun and anything that will make you darker.

To a lot of people in Africa, lighter skinned people are superior. They get offered jobs more than the dark-skinned girls, they progress in their modelling careers, they are at the front line of every music video.

The thing is society at large places a very high value on the perceived proximity to whiteness. We want to bleach our skin, we want long straight hair, and we want a thinner nose.

Sometimes the self-hate is so internalised that we don’t even realise for a very long time and some of us also go ahead to ingrain this same hate in our kids.

Nigeria is said to be the Number one consumers of bleaching cream in the world which is not shocking to me but just completely sad. It is unfortunate that every day, people are slathering all sorts of creams on their skin like the “fair and white”, Caro white, or fair and lovely to achieve society standards of beauty.

Colourism is a huge problem that we need to recognise and curb in Africa especially. The light skinned girls need to be honest about the privileges they benefit from and call out colourism.

Stop encouraging your companies to get light skinned girls to operate the front desk, Stop flying in white models when you have gorgeous black models.

We need to bring up strong African women to love themselves and the skin they are in so it’s really disappointing to see a public figure release a million and one skin whitening products.

I decided to stop all lotions and stick to glossier body wash, coconut oil and sunscreen till I find something that works for my skin without whitening it. I’m no longer going to worry about getting darker under the sun or coconut oil making me darker. I’m going to put all that energy into trying to get rid of my breakouts and black spots.

I’m no longer going to conform to society’s definition of beauty, and I hope we all do the same.

Love and light always.

What do you guys think of colourism? what are some of your experiences? Let me know in the comment.

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15 comments

  1. I think it’s sad that the world continues to treat people differently based on skin tone. Everyone is equally important in this world and should be treated with respect. As long as people have the ability, they should be given the jobs they are qualified for. They shouldn’t have to be considered for the job based on if they are closer to white than someone else.

  2. You have said it all. Stating the most obvious reason which is the preferential treatment light skinned girls get in school. I remember in secondary school, when the sun always hit me so bad and my face will be so dark and the rest of my body lighter and questions like “are you dark or light?” “You’ll be more beautiful if you get cream to make your face lighter” . I am not really a light skinned girl, I’ll say caramel so you know how that can be bad when you’re neither too light or dark. I will go around asking and asking for creams that can balance my skin tone.
    I’ll never imagine I can use black soap now but I do…And I’m loving it and my skin too loves it..Although I have market women prepare it because I get reactions from others with brand names.
    I’ve always loved everything about you!thank you for this post.It’s something new seeing a light skinned lady talk about this.I just want you to know I’m the same girl who sent you a fb message about your modesty and being fashionable at the same time! Xoxo

    1. Girlll.. the sun part is what irks me the most.Its not like we can hide from the sun. The problem is,it already becomes a problem from primary school. When they choose girls for pageants..I literally was the only choice in school then and I wasn’t even as good looking as some of the dark skinned girls. Their Confidence are already messed up from a young age and it’s sad.
      Thank you for reading and sharing your experience..
      Thank you for the compliment too..❤️

  3. You are so right, its so sad that a light skin tone and long hair is now the new definition of beauty. Nothing wrong if its natural but going all the way to get it, is terrible. I for one got darker after having 2 very fair kids and people made me feel i looked less attractive and i tried to get back my skin tone but i discovered its part of me, my homones make me darker when pregnant and it will take a while to recover and its totally okay to be a bit darker even if its forever , i mean nature should play it course. Skin washing and bleaching is extreme. We are much more than our skin colour . Beauty is not about the skin tone its all about how you apreciate and care for what you have. Seeing beauty in any shade you are. I love this post.

    1. Yes..beauty is totally not about the skin tone and it annoys me when people shit on women that have just had kids because of the changes they can’t control. I’ve seen a lot of women become totally insecure after kids because of their bodies,skin and all that and i’m Like “do you realize you brought a whole human to the earth” you are basically a super woman!
      We need to get rid of the whole superficial standard of beauty!
      It’s just ridiculous

  4. Light skin is the closest thing they have to being like the Europeans they so much worship and adore. It’s so sad that all in the name of business we make and then sell these skin lightening products to ourselves. Will we still blame the whites for this?

    1. Girl the scarf lines are the worst. People don’t even realize the risk they are taking in putting those things on their body.its horrible
      #teamskincare all day!

  5. Thank you for this post!!
    We should all focus more on keeping our skin healthy and free of different skin issues rather than conforming to the society’s “standards” of light skinned people being more favoured.
    I have to deal with hyperpigmemtation which is mostly caused by sunburns (especially those “hijab lines”) but there are definitely remedies that do not including desecrating the skin.

  6. I can’t agree with you more! I’m in love with my skin, especially when its darker and it glows, but that’s when people say I should get a cream that will lighten me. I was using shea butter and honey but everyone said I need to stop so I’ll get lighter

  7. This is so Apt!
    Asides from the problem of segregation and colourism. The truth is that there are not a lot of product on the shelve that helps dark skinned girls maintain a clear and beautiful skin.
    Our skin has high melanin and can be prone to sunburn, the use of sunscreen should be encouraged. I have realised that a lot of ladies tend to alter their skintone with little or no intention to bleach their skin, some started switch trying to clear spots or pimples.
    We need more dark skin care products as well as awareness, everyone is their own kind of beautiful

  8. No matter what color your skin is there was a reason you were made that way, I appreciate it but I think sometimes some people feel pressured to look a certain way either because of an experience they have or what they feel acceptance look like, they seek other people’s approval to be happy. This is a very important post + I feel something/Someone caused this post and I might just have an idea

  9. A must read for pre teen girls. Everyone should learn to embrace their beautiful.

    I have what I call ‘middle ground shade ‘ too dark to be light and much too light to be dark, so for the longest I believed I look prettier when I’m closer to light. Honestly it’s only recently I just stopped too. I can’t take it anymore cause it’s so mentally draining. Now I do organic, if I’m black let me be and if I’m fair let me be.

  10. Oh well, this has to be the best thing I have read over the internet. I connect to this alot.
    I was way lighter when I was younger and even all through my primary school and BOOM growth happened I guess. But i mean it wasn’t really a issue for me till I had Aunts come around and they be like “ayy Aisha,if someone had said you would be dark when you grow up I wouldn’t have believed oh” or why are you dark? dont you have a cream?Infact there was this friend who I hadn’t seen for just a semester and when she saw me,she kept on going on how dark my face had become and they look she had was as if she was genuinely worried for my skin colour.
    And the other day, i post a picture and one of the comments from a friend read ” you don’t BLACK finish ooh” wait what?!
    Aside all this story,My point is that we really need to care less about people’s complexion.there are other things to focus on like getting products to make your dark skin pop and sunscreens also cos trust me we do have sunburns too.

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