Posted on March 24, 2014

African Singer Defends ‘Whitenicious’ Skin-Bleaching Cream After Being Accused of Encouraging People to Change Skin Tone

Chris Pleasance, Daily Mail (London), March 22, 2014

An African singer behind a skin-bleaching cream called ‘Whitenicious’ has tried to justify the name of her product in a TV interview, saying: ‘white means pure.’

Asked what the product’s name meant to her, Nigerian and Cameroonian singer Dancia appeared to contradict herself by saying: ‘White means pure, not necessarily skin, but in general.’

She insisted that the cream is only for covering blemishes, despite an advertising campaign showing her entire body appearing lighter, adding: ‘Some people they don’t feel confident, they don’t feel pure, they don’t feel clean with dark spots.’

Critics have branded the product an ‘abomination’ saying it teaches young ‘girls of colour’ to be ashamed of their skin.

In an interview with Channel 4, Dancia was asked whether she thought the message behind the product was that being white looked better than being black.

She replied: ‘I was not selling that message, the media are selling that message. I didn’t say, buy the cream and look like Dancia.

‘I said seven day, fast acting dark spot remover. It’s called reading comprehension. If people missed that class then it’s not my fault.

‘If they think that their whole body is a dark spot then fine, because that’s not how I feel.’

Among Dancia’s critics is oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o who spoke out against racism in beauty and fashion and warned young black girls not to use bleaching products.

Nyong’o, star of 12 Years A Slave, admitted that when she was younger she wanted to wake up ‘just a little bit lighter’, because she was ashamed of her dark skin.

When asked whether she accepted the point made by Nyong’o, Dancia responded: ‘I don’t accept that. I don’t care about her story. I don’t know her.

‘I’m an adult and if I lighten my skin then that’s my choice, the same as bleaching my hair.’

Skin bleaching is a growing trend in Dencia’s native West Africa, and critics are angered that it appears she is promoting it with her product.

Specifically, the pop star has been criticised for using her own changing skin tone as a marketing technique. Pictures of Dencia taken in 2011 show her with much darker pigmentation compared to the Whitenicious campaign where she appears several shades lighter.

In another attempt at justification, Dencia explains that 50 per cent of her customers are African-Americans, not Africans, adding: ‘I have girls calling me up and crying, thanking me for Whitenicious.’

However, Phinniah Ikeji, from Black Role Models UK, said: ‘This is about the young girls.They see you, they love your music, they love you as a person and they have seen that you were darker before and now you’re much lighter, what’s the message going to be to them?

‘They’re going to think, OK I want to be like her as well and then that affects their self esteem.’

Commenting on the video on YouTube, user AC MC said: Indians and Africans and people of colour need to stop trying to be white and be happy with themselves. This woman needs mental help.’

Another user, tpl89 added: ‘Fake accent, fake hair, fake skin colour. It’s so sad, she must really hate her African heritage.’