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.