Of late, a section of society members have developed a penchant for colour-shaming dark-skinned people, especially women, arguing that a light skin tone speaks of beauty and attractiveness.
The late pop legend Michael Jackson had to transform his looks by altering his skin colour. He adopted a whiter look compared to his original dark complexion. He did so to overcome a low self-esteem, which was making him feel uncomfortable and less worthy in the eyes of the American community.
When music videos TV platform MTV was launched in the early 1980s, it was accused of shutting out music produced by black artistes, and MJ was a victim of the discrimination.
And even as he became bigger, better and bolder in the music industry, Michael Jackson still battled self-esteem issues, prompting him to undergo a cosmetic procedure, which, he suggested, would make him feel more socially accepted.
And after he did, the musician, on several interviews, insinuated he was “better off”.
His looks change proved costly, as evident in a 1984 incident, in which he sustained burns to his scalp during a commercial shoot. How did that happen? His hair simply caught fire!
And as the pressure for social acceptance continued to mount, different celebrities forgot about MJ’s predicaments and underwent cosmetic adjustments, nonetheless.
Some of the big name artistes, who have skin-lightened, include: Nikki Minaj, Rihanna, Vybz Kartel and Jamaica’s Spice, who is the latest celebrity to join the bandwagon.
In Kenya, socialites Vera Sidika and Bridget Achieng’ lead the pack – in this part of the Sahara – of prominent people, who have bleached their skin.
Vera Sidika sensationally claimed the procedure set her back Ksh15 million, while her counterpart, Achieng’, said the process cost her Ksh3 million.
Achieng’s key reason for bleaching was that she wanted attention directed her way by men, saying “guys only focused on her light-skinned friends, and not her, during social interactions”.
“Since the procedure, people have come up to me saying I look great and want me to help them look just as good” she said in a March, 2017 interview on KTN News.
In many job advertisements, especially those doing the rounds on WhatsApp, employers looking for front office receptionists and bar maids often insist that the applicants “must be light-skinned”.
The recruiters argue that light-skinned women would attract customers and clients to their businesses.
And even in music videos, light-skinned women are more used in the clips as vixens than those who have a fairer complexion.
In urban centers such as Nairobi, where ‘Sheng’ language is used widely in social discussions, light-skinned women are referred to as “Rangi ya thao” [a thousand shilling note colour], which simply puts lighter women on a higher pedestal than their dark counterparts.
In many beauty shops in Nairobi, and other urban centers, you won’t miss a bleaching cream on the shelves.
Many of these bleaching agents contain harmful chemicals such as mercury, studies have shown. Desperate and ‘ignorant’ users are often unaware of the health dangers they are exposing themselves to, when they apply such creams on their bodies.
Some, however, get the lighter complexion, but a damaged skin, with dark spots being the end result.
Let us appreciate how God created us originally; it doesn’t cost or hurt much.
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