Black women skin bleaching – to what end?

Skin bleaching or skin toning as some people prefer to call it has been around in Nigeria for a long time. In the ’70s Satina Skin Tone Cream was quite popular among the youths as the “thing” to do for a lovely skin complexion. I have known for a long time now that one main reason we have people peeling off their skins to be lighter than their original skin tone is lack of self-love. Most of what we were made to belief about what skin bleaching or toning would do to self-confidence only exists in the head.

Photo Credits: TJ Bello @ Nigeria Nostalgia Project
Photo Credits: TJ Bello @ Nigeria Nostalgia Project

Black women bleaching their skin to oblivion always makes headlines on newspapers not because it’s any positive news but because it shows how insecure the person under the skin was. Oftentimes, this is triggered by the fact that the society tend to equate light-skinned shades to being more attractive – this is not true and we all know it. Societal pressures and media skewed reports are all to blame for this.

At a recent US African Leaders Summit, Cameroon First Lady – Chantal Biya made the headline not because she is an African and a First Lady but because her look and hair bear no resemblance to an African she claims to be.  Washington Post had a few words for Cameroon First Lady and her ship-load of hair.  Also, the skin tone? No wonder lots of younger girls who looked up to women in her position for guidance were going nuts with skin damaging.

My question is as a First Lady you are already in a position whereby many people both women and men alike looked up to you as a wise one whose character is worth emulating, do you really need to go through several pots of bleaching cream to be noticed?

Nineteen years old of me did exact same thing. Working and earning my money for the first time in a big city Lagos. My sister was kind so didn’t ask for me to contribute to the housekeep and me having no responsibility spent my hard-earned naira on clothes and Tura+. This cream – I can’t even believe how it managed to get Health Minister’s approval to be allowed on the market. It was hot to touch like hell, within one week my skin tone was noticeably different – lighter. And yes, I was more noticeable mostly to the most unwanted crowd you can imagine. Their perception of me was based on what they see outwards whereas my reason for bleaching my skin was of low self esteem – a village girl in a wild city. And of course I did not find solace in the cream it was such a waste of time and money and needless risk on my skin.

I don’t particularly liked it when Nigeria religious leaders tie everything to God and heaven, it doesn’t work when you want people to see the truth about the damage they are doing to themselves. Cheesy reasons like the one Pastor Mrs Adeboye of Redeemed Church gave works for people who are under the spell of religion, hope they wake up soon enough.

23 thoughts on “Black women skin bleaching – to what end?

  1. Is skin bleaching good to us? Well I would like to stress out the fun amazing gifts I know like this fake Ultrasound designs from fakeababy. Hahaha it is really funny how you showed them your trick and its not true that you are pregnant. Only they laugh so hard.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Good article!!! However, I do not think the pastors reply in regards to skin bleaching was “cheesy”, when he said about tampering and wanting to be White. I think it was perfect. A person is indeed tampering with what God has created (low self- esteem), because they do not like the way God created them. They don’t appreciate themselves or their creators masterpiece. Low self-worth is deeply spiritual. They women are so beautiful with their lovely dark skin, but want to change it, why? It is divine. Now even men are doing it. So sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Oluranti for stopping by and for the objective comment.

      Lady pastor is a fine woman/pastor am sure however, as you well know if one wants to get Nigerians to change their behaviour on anything, using God/bible as the only explanation is a sure way that Nigerians will continue in the old ways.

      Let’s look around us, we have more churches per square mile than schools not to mention mosques, also millions of naira from national budget to visit Wailing Wall and Mecca yearly – yet nothing changes, the more we talk about God the farther away our behaviour from holiness.

      My point with the skin bleaching was use concrete examples that people could see and associate with like the possible damage to the outer layer that could cause cancer, low-self esteem that will not go away – these will change people’s mind and not the God/bible references.

      Many thanks.


      1. I remember seeing his former wife on telly years back for the first time & I wondered if he was then aiming towards looking more like her, you know skin & hair too. Well, I guess got pass looking like her & started to look too good for her at some stage. Hallelujah somebody!!!

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  3. Great piece! It is as a blogger above suggested, an epidemic.

    I was surprised to read an article several years ago that Indian women use skin-lightening creams the most in the world. Down the border from the US in Mexico, surprisingly, are the homes of women high on the least of skin bleachers but I’m sure if a poll was to be done, Nigerian women would be high on the ignominious poll.

    I agree it is a matter of low self esteem which the users may not want to own up to but surprisingly, I’ve personally won the battle of convincing quite a few women – and men because some Nigerian men also do it – against it over many years. I do not go for the “o fẹ ba skin ẹ jẹ!” – you want to ruin your skin. Luckily though tragically, I know a few people who’ve killed themselves after skin melanoma, stories that usually strike awe but one younger woman than me though no spring chicken, chose the suicide route. Then in her 50s, she came in company of her spouse to answer an invitation to see my spouse who told her point blank she would kill herself at the pace she was taking life. She would die within 5 years and the husband would later narrate how she used to feel so fire-hot that she would place ice blocks -the size sold for cooling party drinks – in scarves and place on her body! A real horrible slow death.

    Yeah, what color do people really like although the answer to it has never occurred to me. I believe the need for proper education through radio, television and other such media can be effective, esp. if the jingles are framed in such a way that makes bleaching a personal choice not to live a long life. It would not convince all but would win over many. At least it did when I used the approach on some women. There was also one very beautiful and blessed-with-evenly dark skin woman whom I told was perhaps being envied by the same women who were advising her to “tone”. Thankfully, she took my advice. Different approaches will be necessary often but no matter even if a Ph.D. Psychologist advises them, many would never take the advice just as many extreme skin tanning white women may never listen.

    You hit this way out of the ball park, again, Fola, and using your personal experience as an example is particularly touching.


    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is the same story in Asia. Women buy whitening creams. It’s very big business.
    As you say it all comes down to self esteem and being comfortable with yourself as you are. Magazines and media don’t show the healthy image of all women. Unrealistic expectations of what one group deems to be attractive rules the day.
    Peels and bleaching sound painful. The wrong amount and you can permanently damage the skin. Not worth it. Why on earth do we obsess about looks so much in society?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is true. In Zimbabwe men I my age group call the light kinked girls “yellow bone” and it has put unnecessary pressure on the dark skinned women. Some have gone re a perfect dark complexion, to yellow and then red. I have seen it with my own eyes..I wonder what damage it will do in the long run.
    This was a great post by the way 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is an epidemic! It’s prevalent in other countries as well. I thought that things were improving, given that it is after all, 2014, and there is much more information available about the dangers of this practice. It really is rooted in a lack of self-love and self-esteem. Issues of colour and skin tone continue to plague us, despite the fact that there are more role models of various skin tones. Minds are the last bastion of shackles.


    1. Hi Shery – Nice to see you again! I agree it is all due to lack of self-love and self-esteem. Well, it’s getting worse especially in Nigeria because of emerging middle class and reduced parental “home training” And the annoying part is that celebrities who are smart and respected already thought they have to peel off their epidermis to be more accepted. Sad really


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