A few weeks ago while lurking on a Zambian Facebook commerce platforms I came across a post where a young lady was asking where she could get skin lightening pills. The post attracted a lot of attention with an array of comments ranging from encouragement paired with support to condemnation intertwined with ridicule, to myths and facts about skin bleaching. Seeing this bothered me A LOT. I did something I’d never done before, I commented. It was somewhat of an outlet for the emotion (im not even sure which one/s in particular) and compassion I was feeling because it turned into quite a paragraph. More importantly it was a last ditch effort to reach out to anyone on the fence about bleaching their skin.
I’m dark skinned and fortunately for me my mother embedded deep self love and an appreciation for my skin tone very early on in life. Prior to this, it had started to bug me for a few months till the day I had a talk with my mother that probably saved me from one day growing up to be the girl looking to become light skinned. Many young ladies out there were not fortunate enough to have a talk like the one I had. And let’s be honest we do live in a society that has fed/feeds into us that the lighter the skin the more attractive or superior in some way.
A few months before that, a young man on twitter passed a very unpleasant comment about how undesirable a certain woman is because she is dark. Two sisters Katongo and Kanta Temba stood up for her and many others as they retaliated and backed him into a silent corner which he retreated into hurling insults. It was refreshing to see girls stand up and speak out against the issue. Many girls especially the lighter and fairer ones don’t have to deal with this issue so they don’t deal with or speak out against the issue.
A few months before that, I was with uni friends in their boarding house and they started to discuss a school mate who had bleached her skin. We all teased and taunted and spoke of her in a demeaning manner . Something planted the question ‘But why?’. And it hit me, the root lies in self esteem or some complex.A seed of self hatred must have been planted early on and it has grown and been nourished with the reality that society prefers lighter skin.
Many of us have wrongly placed our value in the number of people or the caliber of the people that have found us desirable. The hot guy or the rich guy found me attractive therefore I’m better than you. Or 5 guys in comparison to your one are after me so I’m of higher value. Those things may have their truths to them but they are not entirely true. Sometimes women may be undesirable because of the rotten attitudes they carry or the lack content in their minds etc but before they can wash and whiten their insides or add colour to their minds they bleach their skin and hope that will be magnet to draw more men or even a higher caliber of men(whatever their definition). I read a book this year that I believe is a must read. ‘The bluest eye’ by Toni Morrison is a such a potent book that will give you a deep understanding of yourself and of others.
Then there is our cultural aspect. Where you haven’t really attained anything till you attain the Mrs Title. Your life does not begin till you’re a wife. Women are judged by their ability to bag a man. Many place their personal value in how great or how rich her husband is. Women for the most part do not traditionally didn’t own much of their own property. Except their husbands and children. In addition to how well she made the house a home.
Then there are the things you are born with that none of us have control over.Outward beauty is another yardstick women use to ascertain their value or worth. One feels superior because she is more aesthetically pleasing. Some feel inferior because their body isn’t as endowed as someone else’s.
As a society we have been taught and are inclined to place our value in things that are really not worth much more than fir the benefit of making an impression on others.
Issues to do with complexes are highly complex. A complex is a horrible void that constantly seeks to be filled, sadly most of us attempt to fill the void with things that do not heal the underlying disease.
A girl that does not truly have self worth and value who decides to start working on her outward appearance to gain value will constantly be working on her appearance to no satisfaction. It starts with skin bleaching . Then it’s the body.’mankwala yama hip’ and the like (or plastic surgery for those with access to it)then its a bigger bum. Bigger or firmer breasts. Flatter stomach etc. Then the face.etc then issues like body warmth and acquiring all sorts of skill to ensure male pleasure from the waist down. All to what ends?
I deviated a little there. Sadly we shame those that want to bleach their skin, view them as deviants. We look at the symptoms and not the actual disease. It really is more complex than someone just wanting to become lighter.I know a few people who have become lighter during the course of time I’ve known them. You can see the change, the lucid texture their skin gets. I asked this one girl once if she has coloured blood( or is mixed race) and she was audacious enough to say yes. She really did not think it was that evident. Even the most ‘well bleached’ celebrities like Beyonce have skin that looks like it is bleached. Her skin isn’t what it was. The truth is you were born a certain way going against the order of nature never yields flawless results. You created flaws out of something perfect. You are complex well crafted being and if you start to feel uncomfortable in your skin, watch what you’re letting into. What you watch or listen to. Or the comments people make that you choose to believe.
When people teased me or tried to get me down and used my complexion as anchor. It never did work, it was because of the esteem my mother gave me. It simply gave me value and avoided the seed growing into layers till a complex developed. I’m grateful for my mother, however I am wary of the fact that many people don’t get the same privilege. So let’s be kind to them. Dark skin and bleached girls alike, you don’t know jato complexes are growing underneath their skin.
We must always remember we were created the way we were for a purpose. Dark skin beauties like Lupita Nyongo would never be known if she decided to bleach her skin. We love her just the way she is and to those out there with complexes you are lovable just the way you are. You were created for something specific so don’t get envious of what someone else gets because of what they were created for. When you begin to appreciate all of you then you get what’s meant for you.