By Uche Amunike
I was born dark. I am beautiful. Very beautiful. I love my complexion. I am super proud of it. I am very confident in my ability to make a difference wherever I am. I add value. I am a support system at home and at work. I can also add with friends. I am a confidant to my beautiful daughters and amazing son.
I am a pillar that holds my marriage so firmly and in one piece. I am all these in my black skin. As a matter of fact, if I were to make a choice between being recreated with a fair complexion and remaining dark, I will still stay dark. Black is beautiful. It is natural.
It is God-given and can’t be bought in the market place. Yeah!!! It is indeed, priceless. Perhaps you’ll now understand why I feel bad each time I see women with all sorts of coloured patches on their faces, especially, mostly caused by bleaching creams, or as they now delicately put it, whitening creams.
Some of them have their faces looking green in colour. Some others have their upper cheeks looking burnt with these green patches and sometimes red patches, depending on the level of bleaching they indulged in. I see some of them with heavy layers of concealers and brown powders, all in the bid to cover up the damages they made to their skin.
Yet, they don’t even end up covering the burnt skin or else, I won’t have noticed. What I find crazy is the fact that even people with fair skins also apply bleaching creams because they want to be fairer. It’s as crazy as it is incomprehensible. I just don’t get it.
I’m very sure of one thing, though. Women or young girls who bleach their skins do so because of their ignorance. If they know the extent of damage they do to their skins each time they apply these dangerous chemicals, I’m so sure they will think twice before indulging in it. The dangers are numerous and cannot be over-emphasized.
Ladies, please take this message if you are a disciple of skin bleaching or skin lightening as most people put it. God created us in His image.
He knows what is good for us and like everything he created, he made us bright and beautiful. So it means that you do not have to be fair to be beautiful or noticed. Should there be a standard to beauty? Yes! But is it limited to the colour of my skin? My answer is an emphatic NO! That is why you can see a beautiful girl in the olden days whose only body cream is coconut oil and yet, she glows with natural beauty. Her skin is smooth and radiant.
Everything about her is natural. So, whether you are dark or light in complexion, you are beautiful in your own right. My dear ladies, can you lend me your ears? There is a pigment called Melanin in the skin. It is a natural skin pigment. We are Africans and we live in Africa.
This Melanin protects our skin from the scorching African sun. When you wash it off in the name of bleaching, your skin has lost its protection. In the past, Africans hardly suffered from diseases like Skin Cancer. It began when women started to wash off the natural protection given to us by God to keep our skins safe.
These chemicals reduce the concentration of Melanin while lightening or toning your skin. Overusing them causes irreversible damages, such that even if you eventually stop using the bleaching creams, the skin will not return to its original condition. I really don’t get it when people say lighter skin is more beautiful and some even say it is associated with higher status, privilege and beauty.
I don’t get it. You are what you believe you are. Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is dark skinned. Chimamanda Adichie is dark skinned. Onyeka Onwenu, Oby Ezekwesili, Ndy Okereke-Onyiuke are all dark skinned and proudly successful in their skins. The Late Maryam Babangida and our very own Dora Akunyili were proudly dark skinned and left their footprints in the sands of time.
God bless their souls. So, when anyone says being light skinned attracts high status mates, it sounds like a palmwine tapper’s mindset! Please believe me when I say that dark or fair, you are beautiful in your own way. God is never wrong and knows what’s best for you.
The act of lightening your skin also goes beyond the physical effect. It is the lack of confidence that some women possess that makes them resort to bleaching their skin. You’ll see a girl that feels all her agemates are getting married. Next thing, she resorts to bleaching because she feels she is still single because she is dark in complexion.
The ironic thing is that she will end up looking shrivelled, as these chemicals take away the natural moisture in your skin. She will also end up having this offensive odour that is onion-like. It’s a very nauseating smell with people who bleach, especially when they sweat.
Then, she will burn her skin and endanger her life by using those chemicals to remove the Melanin on her skin. She will be exposed to Skin Cancer, other skin diseases and other secondary bacterial infections that would have been avoided if the Melanin on her skin was still intact like God created her. She will never be the same again and will even look older because there is nothing good about skin lightening creams.
One of the worst dangers associated with these chemicals is that once you start using them, stopping leads to more complications, just like continuing will put your overall health in danger. The truth is that the moment you damage your skin, you also damage the cells beneath them.
This is because as soon as the normal skin wears off, there is no flora of the skin which exposes the body to all kinds of skin related problems. If the person is involved in an accident that requires stitching, it becomes a major problem because of skin damage.
Same thing applies to women who give birth through Caeserian section. Stitching them up is usually a serious problem for doctors. Women seriously need to be careful. There is nothing good about skin bleaching. It causes thinning of the skin; it makes your blood vessels become visible in the skin;
it gives you scars that are not only physical but psychological, because when you appear in public with all those green veins showing all over your body and your face badly burnt and having different colours, our society will always stigmatize you no matter how little because you are not a role model to any youth anywhere in society.
Do you know that bleaching creams cause kidney, liver or nerve damage? Are you aware that these creams when applied during pregnancy can cause abnormalities in your new born???
I want to make this appeal to all young girls out there. Kindly stay focused on building your future without being distracted with irrelevancies like bleaching creams. You do not need them. No man wants to marry a pretty girl and end up with someone who looks different from the person that he was attracted to all in the name of bleaching her skin.
These traders in the market that will tell you to pay through your nose for them to mix creams that will bleach you are just making money out of you and even destroying your future. Stay away from them. They are no good. If you have any issues concerning your skin, kindly meet a qualified dermatologist and it will be professionally handled. These men and women in different markets that mix all the bleaching creams for you are merely making money out of you.
Do not be a party to that. Your beauty lies within. It isn’t a thing of complexion. Take it from me. Beauty, they say, is in the eyes of the beholder. But you have to set a standard for yourself first. Place the kind of beauty you want to be associated with on yourself. It will go a long way. Indulge yourself real good. Not with bleaching creams, but with every other thing that completes your personality.
Let’s be women our husbands will be proud to show off to their friends, family and colleagues. Let’s be mothers our children will be proud to show off to their friends. Let’s be women our immediate society will always be proud to be associated with.
Can you picture Chimamanda Adichie mounting the podium to speak with a face already destroyed by bleaching creams, or our new World Trade Organization Director General, addressing the world with a face already destroyed by bleaching creams. Remember that Michael Jackson destroyed himself with bleaching creams? and surgeries that will make him a white man just because he wasn’t proud of being black.
Those complications eventually killed him. Stay true to your heritage. You colour as a black person gives you identity. It’s your signature. Changing it means you’re trying to change your nature. Let’s be wise. Nothing good can ever come out of it because you can never cheat nature. So, stop the bleaching! Be yourself!! Black is truly beautiful!!!