Not All African Women Believe ‘Black Is Beautiful’. And That’s OK

Sede Alonge, Telegraph (London), July 18, 2014

Toning. Lightening. Brightening. Whitening. While the marketing slogans promoting skin enhancement in Africa might be varied, the underlying effects are pretty identical. Although I do not use skin lightening products, I live in Nigeria where millions of women do.

On offer in my local shops are a myriad of products designed to make dark skin lighter: Kojic acid soaps, fade creams, hydroquinone creams, whitening shower gels made from goat milk and for the more determined: skin lightening injections.

So when last month Vera Sidika, a popular Kenyan model and socialite, publicly admitted to spending tons of money bleaching her skin, she added fuel to an already smoking hot fire. Just one admission was enough to re-ignite the fierce debate about Africans’s perception of beauty.

A bullish Sidika says she is proud of the way she looks and thinks African societies are hypocritical on this thorny issue. But her honesty roused the ire of many social media users across the continent.

Passions inevitably run high among Africans whenever someone brings into play racial issues. On the topic of skin whitening, emotionally charged slogans such as “black is beautiful” are often employed in an attempt to make women like Sidika feel as if they are somehow betraying their race. Such women are then accused of having inferiority complexes towards white people.

In Nigeria, where 77 per cent of women use skin lightening products,according to a recent World Health Organisation report, the mainstream African commentariat, which is mostly male-dominated, projects a strong bias against the practice. I myself am a dark skinned Nigerian woman who does not use whitening creams or soaps, but I feel that while there are valid health concerns as to the side-effects of skin lightening products, it should remain an individual’s prerogative to be who or what they want to be.

Yes, black is beautiful, but so also is white, brown, yellow and the many shades in between.

When white people use tanning lotions, solariums and other methods to darken their skin, it is treated as par for the course and other white people don’t feel the need to remind them that “white is beautiful”. In fact, such a statement would likely be regarded as racist by members of other races. Yes, I understand that there was a specific historical context in the US and elsewhere which, at the time, necessitated the use of the “black is beautiful” slogan in order to boost black people’s sense of self-worth and identity, but this is 2014 and we should have gotten beyond that by now. Or are self-affirming slogans going to be needed by black people forever?

People’s desire to have a particular skin tone, be it a darker or lighter one, stems from them wanting to be more attractive and sometimes for others to take notice. And more often than not, in the case of an individual who has undergone skin lightening here in Africa, it works. The critics might be unwilling to concede this publicly, but the harsh truth is that in Africa, lighter skinned girls do get more attention and are more appreciated than darker skinned women.

It is not unusual to often hear Nigerian men say things like: “Oh, I met this beautiful girl the other day, she had a great body…and she was fair in complexion.” But then these same men would hypocritically voice outrage if a Nigerian woman, especially one in the public eye, openly admitted to bleaching her skin. If skin tone didn’t matter at all to Nigerian men, skin lightening creams and soaps wouldn’t be flying off the shelves over here as they are right now. In Nigerian music videos too, one can notice a glaring preference for lighter skinned females. The niggling suspicion remains that my society is more self delusional on questions of identity and its perception of beauty than it cares to admit.

Physical attraction is instinctive and lighter skinned women are bound to attract more attention from men in a dark skinned society such as Nigeria–just like darker skinned people do in predominantly white societies. Such interest does not have to be due to any sort of complex and is often simply mere curiosity of the different.

Skin lightening should not be automatically regarded as an individual’s outright rejection of their race. If a woman feels that lightening her skin will make her prettier or more confident, then society should let her be and not impose itself as judge and jury on her concept of beauty. It is high-time Africans stop being hysterical and overly-defensive about issues of their self worth and identity.

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  • M.

    Yes, but the real skin tone of those who bleach their skin wouldn’t change, and the woman will still have black children, who will have to do this all over again.

    There are only two lasting solutions for Africa to become fairer-skinned:
    1) Inject some white DNA;
    2) sexual selection, i.e. people mating and procreating with lighter-skinned people more so than darker ones;
    3) state-sponsored eugenic programs, but that’s considered immoral nowadays.

    But most importantly, whatever you do, do it in Africa!

    By the way, n°2 was practiced to some extent by the Vikings. Many Vikings viewed blondness as a symbol of purity. That’s why many those who survived and came from the raids used to take the blonde wives. This contributed largely to blonde hair becoming predominant in Scandinavia.

  • MekongDelta69

    Not to worry – Idiotic White leftists are on their way to Africa as we speak, to get these silly African women’s minds ‘right.’

    They’ll scream “black power” in their ears until they give in and throw their ‘Whitening’ creams away.

    • Rhialto

      I have witnessed a few situations where White Feminists tried to give advice and council to Black women. Sometimes the Feminists were ignored; sometimes the Black gals’ replies were very nasty. The phrase “White B****es, chasin’ after our men” gives some flavor of their responses.

      • DiversityIsDeath

        Grotesque white feminists. Black women share no comradery with white women. Envious negresses– even the lesbians– just see white women as dehumanized grey meat, as competition for black men. As a white woman I side with our white men before I ever side with black women.

  • anony

    White is right. White is beautiful. White is intelligent. White is productive. White is civilized. White is my race. I love my race. I love my people.

    • Shadow

      Black is wrong.Black is not beautiful.Black is unintelligent.Black is unproductive.Black is uncivilized.Black is not my race (thank God!).I don’t love the black race.I don’t love the black people.

    • LHathaway

      And you’re even taking about whites.

  • LHathaway

    “77 per cent of women use skin lightening products”, “77% of Africans do not have toilets”

    What do believe? How about neither?

    • M.

      The first 77 per cent only concern Nigerians, who are better off than other Africans thanks to oil revenues.

  • JackKrak

    I’m sick of this “Well, white people want to darken their skin through tanning, etc. so it works both ways!”

    No, it doesn’t. Many white people like to have tanned white skin as opposed to pale white skin. Not black skin, not dark skin, but tanned white skin…..

    • TruthBeTold

      Most normal thinking White people don’t want dark skin. A tan is just a visual proof that they had a fun summer in the sun.

    • Mary

      Correct. Although I prefer natural fair skin, I can certainly understand why many Whites like to tan. Tanned skin often makes you look slimmer, and tans make skin imperfections look less noticeable. And even though a tan is actually indicative of skin damage, it has been deeply engrained in Whites that a tan looks healthy.

    • http://www.ambrosekane.com/ bluffcreek1967

      Yes, and some people like to have orange skin like Speaker Boehner and Glenn Beck (whom I term “Mr. Orange”). I don’t know why anyone would want to look like a glowing pumpkin, but oh well.

    • IstvanIN

      I have seen White women who look like they live in microwave ovens. Not pretty.

      • ShermanTMcCoy

        Especially when they hit their forties.

    • benvad

      I used to believe that tanned was appealing but after all these years in Japan I’ve come to see tanned skin or dark skin like filipinos as really unappealing to say the least.

      The whole world thinks this way but for the white/black leftists in the USA.

  • TruthBeTold

    Light skin is a universal sign of beauty. You see it in Africa, Asia, South America, etc.

    If there was a magic pill to turn them White, blacks would take it (at our expense (double meaning) of course).

    • Nancy

      That’s it! Send over the Depo Provera shots and tell them it’s a skin-lightening treatment.

  • dd121

    Most blacks in Hollywood try to lighten their skin and straighten out their noses. This has been an open secret for decades. I suppose most of them don’t think black is so beautiful after all.

    • LHathaway

      And the singer and actress Paula Abdul, and actors like the star of the original Star Wars movie; the many singers, actors and actresses who have the corners of their mouths surgically cut in order to maker their smile wider, as an expert on Hollywood and pop culture, what would you say of them?

      • dd121

        Never heard of that. What people won’t do to be a star.

        • LHathaway

          Surely you’ve noticed singers who’s main promotion point seems to be their ability to sound ‘black’? Janice Joplin, Joe Cocker, Rod Stewart – a seemingly endless number of them. Why is it important for them to be paid to sing like some crazy black woman, at church? I honestly have no idea. The diversity Gods work in strange ways. It’s not up to us to understand.

          • dd121

            It’s hard to fathom, but in a weird way their identification with the dregs of society makes them feel superior. At least that’s my theory.

          • LHathaway

            Well, the government and media hold ‘victim’ groups up as being superior. That’s all one ever is exposed to. It’s as if whites (their feeling, their experiences, what’s best for them) don’t exist.
            One might guess most of these singers are genuine artists or perhaps it’s true that ‘black’ singing is better than white singing and they’re just trying to be the best singers they can be. How they are picked to become a star, or if they earn this, would be anyones guess.
            I would guess some genre’s of music are completely made up. There are dozens if not hundreds of ‘death metal’ bands. They all sound pretty much the same. The music is similar and the singers all sound like a wounded bear barking out a desperate mating call. It’s hard to call it singing. Who would say, yeah, I want to ‘sing’ like that? Obviously, someone is paying them to. The angst of the young white man is a spectacle to behold.

          • ElComadreja

            Singers of many Eurasian ethnicities both past and present can sing circles around any negro I’ve ever heard.

          • ElComadreja

            How can that be? As Johnny Cochran told us, there’s no such thing as a “black voice”. *sarc*

  • http://saboteur365.wordpress.com/ bigone4u

    Every Negro on the face of the planet, if given a choice by the Devil, would agree to be turned into a white person. The negro may not be intelligent on average, but they are smart enough know that looks wise, they are behind on the evolutionary scale, closer to the pre-human ancient species that scientists dig up. I’ve met quite a few young negro females who wanted a “white baby.” That light skinned baby is proof that race matters to them. Blacks are the true WHITE SUPREMACISTS.

    • Augustus3709

      Black on black hostility is ridiculously high. They literally hate themselves. If you hate yourself how can you love anyone else?

      Go on Youtube or anywhere else for that matter. Black males hate black females and vice versa. Their racial culture is completely dead. They have no positive identity at all. This makes them dangerous for the rest of us.

      So, they all want to “up-breed”, or “marry-up”, -get them some more of that White DNA in their children, that will make them “better”. Except their caramel children are often just as confused and angrier than ever.

      • LHathaway

        Quite an eye opening expose you’ve written. You’re surely have pin pointed the target. That, or they just want white women.

        • Augustus3709

          It’s interesting, White self-hate comes only from years of brain washing, but black self-hate comes in spite of a culture which preaches the opposite.

          On your point, they don’t just want White women, they’ll take anything that will give them pleasure, even each other, hence, “the down low brother”.

          • LHathaway

            Yes, you’ve managed to enunciate the phrase ‘down low brother’. Not only are you now an expert on urban minorities, but in fact you’ve said it all. Let your wisdom be a light or others to follow.
            Let me try. Down-low brother.
            I rest my case.

          • Augustus3709

            Isn’t it fun?

          • LHathaway

            Sorry, I don’t receive gratification when I speak ebonics, of any kind. I guess I’m kind of a nerd. Neither do I get mental gratification from knowing the terms or properly ‘understanding’ their culture. Sorry, it’s just not that important to me, showing I’m better than other whites in this way. Borrowing the black man’s mojo isn’t a high priority to me. I don’t feel a need to be intimidate other whites. Perhaps it is fun to you.

          • Augustus3709

            Being fluent in ebonics doesn’t mean I use it. It’s just funny. And it’s important to understand the “other” culture. Otherwise you’ll constantly be surprised by what they do. After years of research very little surprises me.

            The ‘paranoia’ is not without merit. In this toxic culture White people and especially White men are enemy number 1. Everything said or done must be self-depreciating somehow, or else a person will be attacked with dangerous labels which will threaten his livelihood. Before feminism White men had the full support of White women. This artificial rift needs to be healed.

          • LHathaway

            Generally, whites who use ebonics, even in jest or to do so to be funny – perhaps I should say the joking kind, are doing so in an (unconscious) attempt to intimidate other whites. That’s my opinion, anyway. I suppose their are an endless number of ways, or a number of ways, whites would use ebonics. Obviously I trust no one here as to their motives. I suspect I’m being too liberal in my trust.

          • Who Me?

            Being fluent in Ebonics without using it in general, is in some ways a safeguard, like knowing another language without using it, but knowing what others around you are saying when they use it.

          • Augustus3709

            Coming from a large city with a sizable black population, you can’t help but understand them. I never actively tried too. It makes ghetto videos on liveleak all the more funny. There was this insane black guy walking naked through a McDonalds, and the insane black camera man said “dis n***a off the crisp!”. I don’t even know what that’s supposed to mean, you can just marvel and laugh.

          • Who Me?

            At the rise of being moderated for vulgarity, for Africans it’s a case of “any warm hole will do.”

          • TheAntidote

            Years ago when there were personal ads in the free neighbourhood newspapers, negro men would invariably place an ad ending, ‘age and race not important…’

          • LHathaway

            lol, in the personals, usually when they say ‘race not important’ race is the most important thing.

          • ElComadreja

            Regardless of age, gender or species. Even being dead doesn’t matter to many of them.

          • Who Me?

            Oh, barf…

      • ElComadreja

        The DNA motivation is probably there on a subconscious level but basically negros go after white women as revenge for their perceived “mistreatment”. They love to exploit and abuse white women (and white women who lay with them are usually sick self-loathing mentally ill examples of womanhood with daddy issues that most white men won’t touch). It’s the same sick twisted thinking that makes whites their preferred target for prison rape. Truth be told they only mate with or even rape their own nasty butt-ugly women as a last resort.

  • IstvanIN

    The Chinese have the facekini to prevent tanning. see below:

    • APaige

      I notice in Southern California many Asians use umbrellas to block the sun. I thought it was to protect against skin cancer or the appearance from long term exposure to the sun. Someone told me it was ‘cultural’-Asians with tan or darker skin work outdoors, while Asians with lighter skin have more ‘prestigious’ occupations. Can anyone add to that?

      • IstvanIN

        The Japanese use umbrellas to protect against the sun, although tanning and negro-worship have taken a small hold.

      • Nancy

        I read that in Pearl Buck’s book, “The Good Earth”. It’s a fabulous book about Chinese class conflict. The main character, a farmer, alludes to that tendency for other Chinese to judge him or his wife for his farmer tan. He gets a concubine later in the book, who is more attractive because of her lighter skin.

  • IstvanIN

    Actually I agree with most of what this women says. Women, and yes, men, have been doing this and that to look more beautiful or handsome since the stone age. Primitive tribes in the Amazon wear paint on their faces. The ancient Egyptians dyed their hair. The French had elaborate wigs for men and women. Afghanistan has secret beauty parlors for women, despite the nutty Taliban. This has been going forever.

  • Usually Much Calmer

    I clicked on the original story. The socialite in question looks better as she was.

    • APaige

      Not attracted to Black women at all, but I agree with you she did look better before. It might just be the smile and/or the fakeness of the other.

    • anony

      That’s a socialite? Not in my world.

      • Usually Much Calmer

        Kenya is not your world, I take it? I think she’s cute in the first photo.
        Perhaps she is also charming, which is another socialite quality.

        Can we agree that people should be cautious about messing with nature?

    • Who Me?

      She’s fairly decent looking in the first photo (except for that forehead), but the second one is enough to give a person nightmares–looks like an angry plastic doll.

    • http://www.amren.com/ Michael Christopher Scott

      In the second picture, she looks like a creepy doll.

    • De Doc

      I recall a Chinese lady classmate of mine who started wearing blue contact lenses and asked me how they looked. It was one of those awkward moments, but I finally managed a polite, ” Yeah, they look good.” It was a very unnatural thing to look at. I never understood the appeal for some minorities to look freakish White.

    • M.

      Something tells me the writer’s own romantic entanglements might have influenced her position on skin tones.

      That’s her with her fiance.

  • kjh64

    This is another reason multiculturalism doesn’t work. When you have different races around each other in large numbers, you have this problem. If races live only amongst their own, they don’t have the same comparisons. Everybody feels they fit in.

    • Augustus3709

      Their solution is to mix everybody up into a sloppy brown stew of confusion.

  • IKUredux

    Actually, I was mostly struck by her using the word:”niggling”. In this country,(you know, the one with the so-called “free speech”), you can get in trouble for “black hole”, “niggardly”, and “chink in the armor”. Once again, the war on Whites surfaces. What’s next? Different dictionaries issued depending on your race? Actually, wait, I better not start.

  • ElComadreja

    Whites are the de facto and de jure standard of beauty and the rest know it.

  • MBlanc46

    Even with IQs in the 70s, African women can discern that they are not as feminine as white and Asian women.