When I was younger, because I’m an exceptionally dark-skinned Ebony woman, I had issues with insecurity about my skin color. I would feel separated and singled-out by, not only people outside of my race, but other black people as well as the favoritism of the light-skinned girls over the dark-skinned was on a rampage. Yet, throughout the process of me coming into my own and learning to accept and cherish the sweetness of my dark chocolate, I never once considered the option of bleaching my skin to conform with society’s measure of beauty. Yet, in the media, this seems to be the norm for those who look for increased popularity in the country.
Excessive make-up or the result of skin bleaching?
Superstar celebrities such as Beyonce are put up on an impossibly high pedestal as icons of the industry and role models for young people. But would an African-American mother want her child to notice the lightening of another’s skin and copy that example along with the ever-changing trend of clothes and shoes? Already it is hard to find a dark-skinned woman on television, whether it’s in movies, TV shows or music videos on MTV, BET and VH1. And if one watches closely at celebrities such as Beyonce as the years progress, wouldn’t you raise the question as to whether or not the already light skin is getting lighter? Is it the effects of too much lighting combined with HDTV, too much make-up splattered onto the face right before camera time or is it that darker skin is still not quite up to par?
Baseball icon, Sammy Sosa, goes from dark to lighter to just-plain-light
In March 2008, Makari, a skin-lightening cream specifically designed for African-Amricans, was released to the public. The advertisement on a health and beauty website introduced it as a “cream that brightens the skin safely and naturally”. However, the article also stated, “People with dark skin have endured decades of neglect in the world of market cosmetics among established international companies.” So this is the way to solve it? By bleaching your skin to conform to the “popular” appearance? Why not create a cream that enchances the natural beauty of dark skin instead of diminishing it?
Despite the startling results of his cream, Sammy Sosa planned to market the product to the community in November 2009 after a picture of his drastic skin color change was posted online following the Grammy Latino Awards ceremony, stating, “I’m going to market it, I’m a business man. I live my life happily.”
How happy can our people be if we feel the need to alter our skin color in order to fit in with the rest of society? As an Ebony woman who has managed to overcome the damaging psychological affects of skin-based ridicule, I worry for our people’s self-esteem and self-worth in a world where it seems bleach is beating black.