In Some Parts of Africa, Black Is Not Beautiful

by Britni Danielle

Skin lightening creams in Senegal. Many are illegal, but are easily found in shops.

Back in 2011, I wrote about Nomasonto “Mshoza” Mnisi, a South African musician who’d undergone skin bleaching because she had a “passion for whiteness.” Back then it seemed like the media had finally caught on to bleaching as stories about baseball legend Sammy Sosa, popular dancehall artist Vybz Kartel, and practice of skin bleaching and chicken pills in Jamaica began pouring out.

Since then, skin bleaching has exploded across several countries in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean, where dark skin is seen as an ugly impediment to success.

Recently, a study conducted by the University of Cape Town found that over a third of women (35%) in South Africa bleaches her skin, most admitting that they do so because they want “white skin.”

In an article about skin bleaching in Africa, the BBC caught up with South Africa’s Mshoza. The 30-year-old singer, and mother of dark skinned children, claims that she once struggled with self-esteem issues but now that her skin is several shades lighter she’s happy.

(video via BBC)

“I’ve been black and dark-skinned for many years, I wanted to see the other side. I wanted to see what it would be like to be white and I’m happy,” she told the BBC.

She added: “Yes, part of it is a self-esteem issue and I have addressed that and I am happy now. I’m not white inside, I’m not really fluent in English, I have black kids. I’m a township girl, I’ve just changed the way I look on the outside.”

Skin lightening can come at a high cost. Legal and illegal skin bleaching creams can cause blood and skin cancers and many dermatologists across the continent have reported seeing increased numbers of burns, skin damage, and ochronosis, which can cause the skin to turn a dark purplish color.

Dr Noora Moti-Joosub of South Africa told the BBC: “I’m getting patients from all over Africa needing help with treating their ochronosis. There is very little we can do to reverse the damage and yet people are still in denial about the side-effects of these products.”

Despite the skin-whitening explosion in South Africa, according to the World Health Organization, Nigerians are the biggest users of bleaching agents, with 77% of Nigerian women using them on a regular basis.  Sadly, other African nations are not far behind, however. According to the BBC, 59% of women in Togo and 25% of women in Mali also regularly bleach their skin.

Dermatologist in Dakar, Senegal with pictures of patients whose skin was damaged by lightening treatments.

But it’s not just women. One of the most troubling quotes that stood out in the BBC’s report was that of Jackson Marcelle, a Congolese hair stylist. Marcelle admits to undergoing “special injections” for the past decade to lighten his skin because he doesn’t like being black.

“I pray every day and I ask God, ‘God why did you make me black?’ I don’t like being black. I don’t like black skin,” he explains.

Marcelle, who’s known in his community as Africa’s Michael Jackson, adds: “I like white people. Black people are seen as dangerous; that’s why I don’t like being black. People treat me better now because I look like I’m white.”

Skin bleaching is troubling on many fronts. Using illegal whitening agents can not only cause deadly cancers or permanently scar a person’s skin, but seeing our African brothers and sisters going to extremes and risking their lives to look more like those who once colonized them is heartbreaking.

While many like Kenyan model Ajuma Nasenyana is a vocal opponent of skin whitening, it’s going to take some serious work and a cultural shift to end the practice around the world.


*Photo cred: Zed Nelson. To see the entire archive visit the Institute website.  

  • ChillyRoad

    I wish there were a way to fight the desire to be lighter skinned while maintaining respect, dignity and value for people of all skin tones.

  • Kacey

    This is truly tragic. However, I object to the headline on this piece because skin bleaching is not just an African problem, it’s not even just a black problem. People of color all around the globe have bought into the white (or at least light) is right mentality and are going to great lengths to try to conform to a beauty ideal. The largest regional market for skin bleaching products is Asia; in the Caribbean bleaching (often called skin toning) products are used as commonly as any moisturizer; and I suspect many African American celebrities of bleaching their skin.

  • Nubiahbella

    Sad BUT years of Colonialism ( rape from Europeans, Arabs, stripped culture, land etc..), a high percentage of African presidents marrying non-Black women and centuries of brainwashing could explain a lot!

    Funny how people like pointing out how African Folks bleach their skins but nothing on the folks of African diaspora yet I have seen numerous cases.

    And don’t get me started how Middle Eastern and Asian women do worse in terms of bleaching but don’t get the same type of treatment in the media for doing so.

  • Elsa

    Isn’t all this a sign of the times we live in? Take the picture of any famous black female celebrity and compare it to her earlier pictures and see if she’s not looking whiter or more light skinned recently. I won’t mention names but you know what I’m saying is true, it’s the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about: the fact that most black female celebs have lightened their skin. And also, let’s be honest, how many of us black women embrace our hair, skin, eyes, body etc.? we either rock weaves all the time, or straighten our locks. and for those of us who go natural and have very coarse/ kinky textures, we crave looser curls so much that we buy product after product and wear twist outs only so our hair assumes a certain texture. It’s the same thing.

  • Chika

    I can’t believe that statistic on Nigerian women.

    I’m Nigerian and I was with some of my younger cousins over the holiday. They all argued, albeit somewaht jokingly, about who was the lightest; as if being the lightest was some type of accomplishment. My one cousin even bragged that he was treated better in Nigerian boarding school because he looked white. He was actually happy about this special treatment instead of being outraged.

    White folks really have done a number on us worldwide.

  • Chika

    Your point is 100% correct. However, there is nothing wrong with the title as this is a site for Black women and therefore concerned primarily concerned with how things affect Black people. If this article was in the HuffingtonPost or some other non-racial specific site then sure, the title should be changed.

  • Apple

    ” In Some Parts of Africa, Black Is Not Beautiful” No sh*t. Everyone wants to be lighter . The Asians the middle easterns the Hispanics and the Africans are all bleaching (google search) . The only people not bleaching are white people who are tanning. The world is a messed up place.

  • Tonton Michel

    This article and the quotes has pushed every negative button in me, from sorrow, disgust, hate, and horror. I don’t use the term white supremacy often if at all but if this is not real proof of its existence with this diseased mentality I don’t know what is. This is what you get when you not only do not control the images in the media, but also when you do not control your own destiny, you have no real power, when you seek help and hand outs from others. The solution is to force feed positive black images to the people regardless if they like it or not. I wouldn’t allow these entertainers to make a single dime. Every day I thank God for making me black and when I die and if he sends me back he needs to send me back blacker than the Ace Of Spades.

  • Chu Che

    If you don’t mind…show me which Black African President is married to a non-black woman. I’ll wait…

  • Chrissy

    Alassane Ouattara

    President of Ivory Coast

  • Chrissy

    Viviane Wade- former first lady of Senegal. She was married to Abdoulaye Wade

  • DownSouth Transplant

    Chu Che, yes they do, oh yes they do e.g
    - President Jomo Kenyatta Married to Edna Clarke
    - Abdoulaye Wade Married to Vivianne Wade
    -Alassane Ouattara Married to Dominique Ouattara

  • Hmmmmm

    It’s not just an African problem but it IS a huge problem in Africa. What’s the point of the ‘but they do it too’ argument? I remember even as a news geek teenager, 20/20 did a piece on bleaching in Africa and let me tell you, I have not been a teen in years so I can only imagine how bad it’s gotten.

    What’s sad is that a lot of the women feel they are not marriage material without bleaching.

  • chanela17

    PREACH! so true about the natural hair products being used to loosen the curl pattern. smh

    i have noticed that in the natural hair community there is a certain type of hair that is praised. it’s always the jennifur freeman and tracee ellis ross type of hair. hmmm

  • Kacey

    OK, I agree but, along the same lines as your argument, since this is a site for black women, why only shine the light on African women? Lets expand the discussion to include Caribbean and African American women as well. I am from the Caribbean and I know for a fact that bleaching is a problem there (many of the creams being sold in African countries are now being sold in some Caribbean countries as well). And as someone else pointed out below bleaching by black American celebrities seems to be an open secret that few want to confront.

  • fmm0822

    The current president of Ivory Coast is the perfect example. The president of Cameroon is married to a half-black and half-lebanese women,

  • Ms. Information

    I won’t philosophize….this is some sad sh*&.


    I agree with some of you’re saying. Now, as for African presidents being married to non-Black women, I only know of one(the current president of Ivory Coast) who’s married to a French white woman. Other than that, most of are married to Black women. Care to share some examples?

  • Black People

    Actually, Southern Europeans, Sicilians, to be exact use skin whitening creams to be like their brethren in the northern part of Italy. Dark skinned Greeks, Portuguese, Spanish, and Italians use skin creams to be whiter like their northern brothers.

  • Kacey

    I object to Africa always being treated as a freak show of all manner of social ills, especially when the problems are not unique to Africa. It allows an entire continent of diverse people to be marginalized, stereotyped and treated like a global charity case.

  • lol

    ladies , Africa is a continent that comprises of over 50 countries so when one says a high percentage of the presidents marry foreign women i expect that to hear quite a few names, maybe over 50 %(?)…

    you guys just named 3 or 4, not even 15%. that’s not “a high percentage”.

    just saying.

  • kissofdanger

    Preach it!

  • Chika

    Oh I definitely agree about discussing skin bleaching in the Caribbean. I believe Clutch briefly discussed skin-bleaching in Jamaica when talking about the dancehall artist Vbyz (the link to his Clutch article is provided in the above post). And as a Nigerian, I understand the frustration of seeing Africa potrayed negatively constantly. However, for what it’s worth, I think clutch does a decent job of producing positive Africa articles as well. I think last week they had an article about a bunch of African based companies. And a while back they ran an article potraying Africa’s varying metropolises. Gotta have the good and the bad :)

  • Muse

    “The president of Cameroon is married to a half-black and half-lebanese women”

    More like half-black and half-Liger…

  • kissofdanger

    I’m going to say what I have said in previous posts about skin whitening. By the way this argument is getting redundant.

    You can throw all the SkinWhite, Fair&Lovely, MelaWhite, Glutathione Pills, and Fair&White down a bottomless pit. That still wouldn’t solve the problem. Discrimination against dark skin is REAL. Not just some superficial lack of self acceptance issue. IT IS REAL. So until we start treating people with darker skin fairly, and making a conscious effort to stamp out colorism, people will still whiten their skin. I am not for getting rid of skin whitening creams, lotions, supplements, and injections. I am for getting rid of the root of why people want to whiten their skin. We don’t live in a bubble or a vaccum. Light skin will open doors for you and make certain goal in life easier to attain. That is the horrible truth about us as a society. We need to be held accountable.

    I will not stand in anyone’s way of doing what will make them happy becuase at the end of the day their bodies are their own. Their life is their own, and they have the right to go out and take a risk (or not) with themselves. I do know that these creams should be regulated, and that the governments need to crack down on the companies that are putting a little something extra in the creams.

    There are people who have successfully whitened their skin and have noted that people do treat them better. Don’t believe me? There is a thread a ran into a year and a half ago on SkinCareTalk called “People are Treating Me Differently”. The thread is very telling. We don’t like dealing with our own prejudices or privilege. In many poor societies light skin is a way out of poverty. Light skin equals access. Let’s deal with THAT!

  • A.

    In defense of twist-outs (pretty much my default hairstyle nowadays), they’re a great way to keep hair stretched and prevent tangles. I’d love nothing more than to wear my hair without excess manipulation, but as a 4b/c…that wouldn’t end well. So my decision to wear mainly twist-outs is less about wanting to mimic a looser curl pattern, and more about keeping my coils from tangling in on themselves and making my life way more difficult.

  • kissofdanger

    That is very true. I actually found a few commercials. The creams usually go by different names there so it won’t be obvious to people like us.

  • Damn

    To risk scarring your beautiful chocoately skin with built in SPF is crazy.

  • ?

    A question. Do you guys think if men embraced dark women the same as their lighter skinned sisters that the number of bleachers would decline? I know men bleach but most definitely no where in the same realm as women.

  • Deb

    alot of people don’t think you like you though.

  • Chika

    Gotta discuss*

  • Pseudonym

    The mindset behind skin bleaching in Asia is different from that of blacks in the Americas, Caribbean, Africa, and elsewhere. In Asia, they are not bleaching to look white or not look Asian, they are bleaching b/c darkness is associated with being a lower class person who has to work outside. Upper class people don’t have to do manual labor and stay inside and, therefore, stay light. HUGE DIFFERENCE.

  • binks

    Sighs…my people my people…this sh*t cray. So sad that we don’t see how unique, beautiful and lividly our various features are that we are brainwashing ourselves into thinking the lighter the brighter and closer to whiter the better and more acceptable we will be.

  • Anthony

    In most of these countries there do not have large numbers of fair skinned women who are part of the black community. In South Africa, for instance, Coloureds and Bantu speaking Africans do not mix very much socially. I know in places like Mali and Senegal, you have Tuareg and Moor minorities, but I am not sure how much mixing there is between the lighter and darker communities. The dark skinned women are the overwhelming majority, and for the great majority of these men, if they want a woman, the great likelihood is that she will be dark.

    I think this desire for white skin is a reflection of mass media that has made its way to Africa, especially through the great access to internet that many Africans have through smart phones and internet cafes.

  • Apple

    Whoa! I thought the dark skin whites were only the Armenians Turks Arabs etc. didnt know they exist in Italy Spain etc . Well damn!

  • Apple

    I’m sad I know all them methods and have an account on there!

  • Chrissy

    Yea, but the person said name one president. Chu Che was commenting like they do not or have not ever existed at all.

    Kwame Nkrumah- former president of Ghana. He had an Arabic wife, Fathia.

    Seretse Khama- first president of Botswana, had a white wife, Ruth

    Agostinho Neto- first president of Angola

    Léopold Senghor- I believe first president of Senegal? He had a white wife

    Ali Bongo Ondimba- current president of Gabon. His wife looks racially ambiguous to me. But, I believe her father is white. Her name is Sylvia Ondimba Bongo.

    You’re right. The percentage is not that high,but it has happened.

  • p


    Which Black female celeb bleaches her skin? do tell, all seeing one!

  • The Other Jess

    This lady sounds like some kind of weirdo. Sorry for her low self-esteem.

  • mikey kun

    This is always sad to hear. Don’t fols know know what black skin can do?
    Build in spf, doesn’t wrinkle easily, silky, smooth,It’s calways being compared to chocolate (one of the best tasting treats ever). I mean the list goes on, Thank god I had parents that raised me and my sister to not just think but know black is beautiful.

  • falalala

    It appears to be a black issue with the history/ legacy of inferiority complex. In Nigeria, people sometimes call dark people in pidgin English creole ‘BONK’ and ugly. If a girl successful bleaches- everyone wants to know her secret. Naturally fair girls are now ‘beauty experts.’ My friend had to lie that she used milk and laundry bleach to bathe just to stop some girl from nagging for her secret.

    Many people have not been using suncreen and have gotten darker so a lot of them claim to be trying to ‘get their complexion back.’ Those who have tried to bleach carry the consequences all over looking a MESS with their veins popping out lowering their self esteem even more.

    Good thing is at least in the fashion industry in Africa, dark Sudanese models are well celebrated. And education is elevating women so its not just about looks anymore.

  • MichelleToo

    Europe is a big place with a lot of countries. How many heads of state are married to non-White women?

    Asia is a big place with a lot of countries. How many heads of state are married to non-Asian women?

    If it is about ten percent you may have a point.

  • lola

    Men definitely prefere light skineed women here in Nigeria, They approach them more often, they sing songs in their honor. “Omo pupa” is an ode to wanting only light skinned women. I’m medium dark skinned and my skin tone ligntens when I’ve been in winter in the states. I am then complimented on my increased ‘beauty’ and ‘brightness’

  • YeahRight2011

    “why only shine the light on African women?”

    Not fun is it? Remember that feeling.

  • Nubiahbella

    No other men in the world in position of power marry women who don’t look like them at this rate.

    It may not be a high percentage compare to the number of countries but too high compare to non-African countries. Also a lot of ministers, deputy etc…from North Africa to South are married to Non-Black women!!!

    Anyway the debate it’s not ABOUT Black men but skin bleaching and why people start doing it

  • Chillyroad

    When black children are choosing white dolls over black dolls as smarter prettier and more desirable is it because of the romantic choices of heterosexual men?

    You’re taking a ver superficial view of this issue and making men responsible for how women feel about themselves.

  • ruggie

    Having traveled to Africa, I found the women to be confident and self assured in their beauty, even more so than in America.

  • SA girl

    Hi all, I’m from South Africa and I would like to point out to Anthony and others out there that referring to black people in SA as “Bantu-speaking” or Bantu is highly offensive and loaded word much like word n**** in the states. Rather use indigenous or black African. That said, Anthony, yes there are “coloured” and black people in SA, and we do mix with each other to varying degrees – this is usually within the construct of class. In South Africa, black people (including coloureds) are of all kinds of shades just like in the US and one can typically find a black person who is lighter than a coloured person or a person who is very dark identifying as a coloured person. Although there is a slight colourism issue, I doubt that it is as widespread as the rest of Africa. In SA the media is fully representative of all shades of black people and one doesn’t ever get the feeling that lighter skinned black people are favoured over those who are darker skinned. A love interest in a soapie can be dark or light and is of the same desirability.

    I find that in SA skin lightening is generally frowned upon because it is associated with being uneducated, simple and low class by many black people hence Mshoza the lady who bleached, was heavily criticized within her own family and community. We in SA don’t generally have problems with shade of blackness as being black is tied to our diverse cultural identity of which we are very proud and which none is placed above the other. What my point is, is that Africa is an incredibly diverse continent and sweeping statements such as these are problematic. The colourism issue is actually a class issue. Looking more white is somehow denoted with being of a higher class in some other African countries. But in SA, class and access to better opportunities has to do with being A BLACK PERSON in general due to our apartheid past and not the shade of ones blackness.

  • Cocochanel31

    MY MY MY MY! no words!!! The lady featured above with her children is beaaautiful! Her and her brown babies are gorgeous!! Why is she teaching them self hate.You best believe her daughter will want to be light like mommy too. This lightening amongst AFricans is very common. If you ever look at a persons hands you can see where they bleached. The woman above has a creamy complexion all over so I’m not sure she was every that dark to begin with, but I’m at a loss for words. Want to cry .Colonialism did this to us! My God!

  • Serene

    It’s not only a Black issue. People in India and Asia bleach their skin as well. This is just imperialism and colonization.

  • Nila

    This is old news. Sorry but I am getting tired of reading articles about this every few months. We all know that skin bleaching is something that is done in third world countries and that mentality is not going to go away anytime soon. Can we think of other more progressive things to discuss. Geez.

  • Karen

    “Since then, skin bleaching has exploded across several countries in Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean, where dark skin is seen as an ugly impediment to success.”

    Skin bleaching had been around in Africa for decades, if not more my friend.

  • myblackfriendsays

    This is just very sad. As a person from the U.S., I don’t feel like this story stigmatizes people that live in Africa. We all know colorism is a problem in a number of countries (including the U.S.,) so I don’t feel that this is unfairly singling one group out.

    I think we really need to get away from this mentality of “Well, people treat me badly because of _______, so I need to change _______.”

    No, _those people_ are the ones with the problem. The more of us that resist the urge to conform, the more clear that reality will become.

  • j. wells

    colonialism has done it to all of us all over the world…but why are white folks tanning?

  • Bobcatbob Ingram

    You did fine until You reverted to blaming whitey.

  • beautiful mic

    ODR facilitates the genocide of those with prominent SSA ancestry, because we accept that having light skin and breeding out SSA lineage is the exact same as having prominent or 100% SSA lineage and indigenous phenotype. She thinks what she’s doing is OK because she’s bought into the concept of ODR = black race = system of racial classification…

    a fools game.

  • Bobcatbob Ingram

    I live in a Mixed neighborhood and it seems to me my ‘colored ‘ neighbors dislike their dark skin far more than any of my white friends !
    That being said, let me sympathize with the ‘colored’ woman here
    in America, and I use ‘colored’ as in NAACP. …and I find the woman to be far better citizens and parents then their male counter parts who seem anxious to abuse in all ways their ‘colored sisters’ while slavishly seeking the attentions of white woman.
    If I am wrong about this please correct me, Thanks
    God Bless the hard working woman of the world.
    BG Ingram

  • amy03

    This is a big issue for a lot of people across the world, not only Africa. I can only speak for Senegal, which is where I’m from. I know a lot of people, even cousins who are educated women and who know about the dangers of skin bleaching. But a lot of people may joke about how dark some people are and make them feel bad about the color of their skin without even realizing it. My mom is a cancerologist and has tried to raise awareness about it but some women deeply believe that men prefer light skinned women. The funny thing is a lot of them don’t like women who bleach their skin because these creams are bad and they stink. People are also very religious and the church and some spiritual guides have tried to also raise awareness. But I think that even though we have this problem, there’s still a high percentage of dark-skinned women who are getting married.

    PS: Clutch, the capitale of Senegal is Dakar, not Dhaka :)

  • Monique

    I guess the USA is a third world country !! Cause they bleach like crazy over there !

  • Lily

    Well it’s true for East Asians. If rich Asians accepted everything by Europeans, they would probably want to tan like many rich Europeans/Americans people do today. I’ve only seen Japanese people go that far, but they are more inclined to borrow Western cultural stuff than any other East Asian country. Also Asian Americans who are born here (not immigrants) do not really care and tan during the summer time like everyone else.

    South Asia is culturally and historically different from East Asia.What I’ve gathered from knowledgeable South Asians and South Asian history class it seems that “light skinned is better” was imposed by the Aryans who came from the north (they also brought an early form of Hinduism). Northern Indians and Pakistanis are usually light skinned and once you go south or to Sri Lanka most of the people there are very dark skinned. It’s harder for South Asian Americans to break free of the “colorist” mindset. It passes on from 1st to 2nd generation families.

  • Kit

    What is “coloured” as opposed to “black”? I’ve never heard these terms before.

  • amy03

    I agree with you. The percentage is not really high. I’m from Senegal and the current president, Macky Sall, is married to a beautiful black woman, Marième Faye. The former presidents Abdoulaye Wade (3rd president) and Léopold Sédar Senghor (1st president) were married to white women but Abdou Diouf (2nd president) was married to a black woman too. And we’ve only had 4 presidents for now. And I think that even Senghor had a Senegalese wife before he married his french wife.

    Actually there was a big outrage in Senegal recently because there were big advertisements on billboards all over Dakar for a product called “Khess petch” (Really light). People were not happy about it and launched the “Nuul kuk” (Really black) campaign on facebook so that the advertisements were removed. Despite this issue, there’s still a high percentage of dark skinned women.

  • Lily

    @ Michelle Too

    Ha! I can only think of one right now and it’s Portugal.
    I don’t believe interracial marriages even at top levels of the government and the elite changes much for race relations.

    Just to add to this. My Haitian mom always made fun of Papa Doc, because he hated the mulatto/light skinned elite but married a light skinned woman who was a daughter of a mulatto. Ironic.

  • Anthony

    Sorry for offending you with the term Bantu. I used the term because linguistically, all of the indigenous languages spoken in South Africa are considered part of the Bantu family of languages except for those languages spoken by San communities.
    The term was used as a catch all rather than to break it down further into specific language sub groups.

    I have been fortunate enough visit South Africa several times and I have visited all of the provinces except the Kimberley area and the part close to Namibia. I know black South Africans come in a lot of different colors since I have seen it with my own eyes.

  • Anthony

    In South Africa, a Coloured person is someone of mixed race. This is a sort of grab bag because in can mean all sorts of mixtures, not just black/white. Colored also reflects a certain cultural orientation in which Afrikaans is the home language and the culture has certain parallels with white Afrikaner culture.

    SA girl makes a good point that South Africans come in all sorts of colors and an outsider may have a hard time telling who is black and who is coloured. I remember once being in Grahamstown in the eastern Cape, and I saw some very fair skinned you women speaking isiXhosa. In America, they would have been considered “redbone” or “high yellow,” and clearly appeared to be of partially white ancestry, but I suspect they identified themselves as black.

  • Rian

    You just hit the nail on its head with your statement. Why are white people tanning desireing to be darker or white women wnating to have children with Black men so that they have more color. The whole world is confused and too many people all over the world of all types of races, classes, genders, etc need to accept themselves and not falacies of what teh media portrays that beauty should be!

  • AM

    I’m not southern African, and was not aware of the word Bantu being a racial slur. How and when did this come about?

  • Anthony

    I am sure SA girl will speak for herself, but I should have known better than to use the term myself since going back to the start of Apartheid, Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd ande the National Party had developed the idea of “Bantu Education” as a way of denying easy access to formal education for the majority of black South Africans.

  • TheyDoitToo

    What do white people have to do with this? but to answer your question, tanning since way back when was seen as a sign of wealth meaning it showed that you have the money to vacation and hence the tan. Whites tanning is not about whites wanting to look black, RMFE.

  • Pseudonym


    British influence def hit India HARD!!!! Dark women and men get NO LOVE in Bollywood and the most famous and loved actress (Ashwarya Rai) is praised for having blue eyes an, in Western clothes, can pass for white. So sad.

  • pinklipstick227

    I’m waiting on a Clutch article about living a fulfilling life as a dark-skinned woman. Time and time again we discuss the issue of colorism without addressing any plausible solutions. Not saying that colorism doesn’t exist, I’m just wondering what people are going to do about it.

  • Marketing Gimmicks

    The colonized mind is a horrible disease. There isn’t a person of color on this earth who hasn’t been affected by the Middle Passage or Colonialism. Sad. Sad. Sad and effing Sad.

  • Marketing Gimmicks

    Thanks for your insightful input to a very complex topic.

  • Black People

    Give me a break. Although that may be historically true, that was the past. East Asians are the biggest consumers of whitening creams, cutting their eyelids, and getting surgery to their nose and cheekbones, to get a more European facial aesthetic. Asians worship white people, more than any other race on the planet. Asian nations are incredibly hostile to anyone who isn’t white and prefer only whites.

  • guestagain

    It’s a South African term. Coloureds are actually mulatoes (born from the mixture of Blacks and Whites). Some very light-skinned Black Americans would be classified as Coloureds in SA. That country is a history that’s different than your average African country. Google or Wiki it to find out more.

  • MissDee

    In Ghana, skin bleaching is also frowned upon and deemed highly sickening. As a dark-skinned Ghanaian,I never knew I was supposed to feel different or ‘inferior’ to a lighter skinned Ghanaian until I started reading American blogs and noticed all the write-ups on skin tones. Why will anyone want to bleach their skin? My best feature is my dark shiny beautiful skin and no one can make me feel otherwise about it.


    Damn @Chrissy, you resurrected some dead Negroes heads of States right there. Some of them have been gone for 25 plus years. LOL

    Actually, the main reason why some of these African presidents are married to white European women is because they studied in Europe in the 50′s and 60′s. Notable exception, Ali Bongo. You date/marry people who meet in your social circle. Some of have lived there more than ten years, so it’s no surprise that a woman from Europe.
    African policians that were trained in Africa don’t typically marry white women. I’ve personally never seen one. In spite of it all, I don’t think the percentage of the current African presidents married to white is significant. Even if it were people have to be responsible for their own actions. You can’t always blame someone else (Colonialism, White people, or Black presidents that are married women) for your shortcomings.

    @MichelleToo, if the European or Asian presidents studied and lived in Africa as youngsters, chances are SOME of them would have married black African women. I personally know white Europeans who’ve lived in Africa for many and have married black African women.

  • Mahogany

    For some people if you aren’t white you aren’t right. As for me I’m black and proud.

    It’s sad to say but some women will go as far as adding bleach in bleaching producing. Self-hate leads to self destruction and that’s exactly what’s happening in the black community.

  • kissofdanger

    You are welcome. I kind of feel like were looking at these people like animals in a circus instead of complex human beings. The reasons driving this is complex. As far as the creams and lotions go most mainstream brands have Niacinimde, and Vitamin C in it. Niacinimide is the main ingredient in Fair&Lovely. Over the past 2 years Anit-mark creams have proliferated here in the west becuase they offer a more even complexion. Anti-mark creams, serums, and lotions have been putting the same main ingredient in their formulas for years. No one has called them out on that nor have we even noticed that Niacinimide is used in many body lotions to even out the skin. When foreign companies do it it’s bad. When we do it it’s ignored. Vitamin C, and Niacinimide really does nothing for really dark marks. so it’s not big deal. Most companies are afraid to use kojic acid, Bearberrry extract, and licorice root extract becuase it’s stigmatized despite the fact that they WORK. We stigmatize ingredients that work and use ingredients that do nothing. UGH!

    Check out the videos I posted. Europe has whitening commercials too. South America is slowly but surely getting around to it.

  • kissofdanger

    I also wanted to mention that tanning is a form a privilege for white people. A privilege that they exclusively enjoy. It’s not about being Black, but showing one’s status. So stop using tanning as an excuse for why whites are so progressive. My foot! If a white person woke up with extra curly hair, non white features, and a dark perma-tan they would go insane. Complimenting your dark skinned friends does not change or help change your privilege. So please stop belittling the discrimination I go through with your empty compliments, and chameleon antics becuase at the end of the day I can’t take my blackness off. It doesn’t lighten from being indoors, nor will curls wash out once I’m bored with them. Get real!

  • http://none felipe

    It must be hard to find a hat to fit the swollen heads of White people today, with all of the stories of non-White (especially Black)
    people bleaching their skin, wearing White textured wigs and weaves to look more White-like. White peoples chests must be heaving with pride in being born White.

  • http://none felipe

    Their was an article not long ago about Mexican and Asian women in the U.S. who’re destroying their skin and their children’s skin by using “skin whiteners.” Though it doesn’t get half the press that black women get.

  • Seriously

    You ‘re being dense on purpose. The reason why this phenomenon (sp?) affects women more is because our society treats lighter women better.
    And to answer your question, YES, when people hear pretty they think WOMEN because we generally don’t call men pretty unless we are trying to be funny…like ‘pretty ricky is what they called him’. So the children were reacting to society’s brainwashing of the preference of heterosexual men.

  • John Valentine

    This kind of mindset is the result of centuries of black enslavement, colonialism, degradation and deprivation. One thing I’ve learned over my many years as a writer and historian is that you can’t argue with ignorance. As an African-American I’m really sad to see this type of self-hatred cropping up in the Motherland. This was a huge problem here in the U.S. for a few decades after Emancipation, but a concerted Black Power and Black Love Movement educated African-Americans to their own beauty and potential. Now African-Americans are one of the richest and most powerful social, economic and political dark-skinned groups on the planet. I love Africa and promote it all the time in my blog. Please start reading it and learn about the truth of African civilization and the tremendous contributions dark-skinned people have made to human civilization. No race or group can hope to progress without knowing its true culture and history. Wake up my Brothers and Sisters!

  • Chinyérè

    Have you ever taken a single African history course…I’ll wait…


    The insitution of racism white supremacy is just genius. The acceptance non white have for it and the way non whites defend it is what makes it genius. It’s funny people are disgusted by this but, are quick to defend racist ads, racist dolls, racist white people, and sambo black people. That’s the whole point of racism white supremacy is too keep non white confused.

  • chinaza

    You just might have a point.We insist that weaves and chemical treatments are “just a style” but we don’t see too many caucasian women in dreadlocks or braids.
    It’s something to consider.

  • chinaza


  • Just a thought

    Plenty of braids, curls and perms out there. Were a white girl to wear dreads she might get called out all the time. White people “shouldn’t” wear dreads or they might be seen as racist or appropriating. Lol, then spend the week at the beach browning her skin. I will now go dye myself green because the grass is always….

  • KMO

    While I can’t speak for India, I’ve lived in Japan for quite a while and I believe the skin ‘lightening’ (I won’t say bleaching, because bleaching is not as common… the Japanese are fairly light skinned naturally so the women here just go crazy about staying out of the sun and using sunscreen 24 hours a day, long sleeves and gloves in 100+ degree weather, carrying umbrellas on sunny days, etc)… is more or less a trend here. When I first started coming here tanning and being tan was *incredibly* popular, almost more so than amongst white American women.

    I tend to think that the popularity switch from tanning to lightening springs from the pop culture influences of the time. In the past decade there has been an enormous import of Korean music, culture, and food in Japan and it’s been in the last decade really that having pale skin has gained popularity – perhaps because (and I’m no psychologist or anything, just an observation) Korean people are for the most part more naturally light skinned than Japanese people due historically to the biting cold winters that Korea experiences.

    Even in the northern parts of Japan like Hokkaido, people tend to be very light skinned compared to the rest of the population.

    Now, I myself am ridiculously pale… and go tanning from time to time, as well as using tanning creams… My natural color is so pale that I look like I’ve lived in a dark room for my entire life. And from my experience, the majority of Caucasian women in the United States feel the same about being fair-skinned, and are considered less desirable than than their more tan counterparts. Even I (and I’m ashamed to say this), when I see someone who’s very pale think that that person looks rather sickly…

    So I suppose that a lot of this dissatisfaction that many women of all racial backgrounds feel for their natural skin tone comes from the universal desire to have something that you don’t have. The grass being greener on the other side, and all that.

  • SA girl

    From the Apartheid era, “Bantu” was a word used to describe black people. We had “Bantustans” which were the racially and culturally constructed homelands designed to deny black their rightful citizenship and keep black people on the least farmable areas. We had “Bantu Education” which was an inferior form of education designed to keep the black child in only certain forms of lowly labour and prevent their advancement. There is NO such word as “Bantu” – It is a word created by the white aparthied government. The correct word is ABANTU which means “people” in the Zulu languange. There are a lot of misconceptions about SA and just to clear that one, no one uses the word Bantu in SA because it is a racially loaded word associated with the repressive aparthied government and their racist policies.

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  • Ravi

    This is truly tragic. I’m glad that self-hatred and internalized white supremacy and beauty standards have rarely led black folks on this continent to use chemicals or surgery to change some aspect of their appearance to appear more like certain traits typically associated with white folks. Yeah, good thing we don’t do that over here.

  • Eshara

    The term COLOURED in South Africa is not just used to describe the offspring of mixed race marriages, fundamentally it is also used to describe the Cape Malay.

    wiki description.

    ….the Cape Malay is a term used to describe people who originally come from Maritime Southeast Asia, mostly Javanese from modern-day Indonesia, a Dutch colony for several centuries, and Dutch Malacca,[1] which the Dutch held from 1641 – 1824.[2]

    The community’s earliest members were enslaved Javanese transported by the Dutch East India Company.[3] They were followed by slaves from various other Southeast Asian regions, and political dissidents and Muslim religious leaders who opposed the Dutch presence in what is now Indonesia and were sent into exile. Malays also have significant South Asian (Indian) slave

  • Eshara

    From the early 1970s to the present, some members of this community – particularly those with a political allegiance to broader liberation movements in South Africa – have identified as “black” in the terms of the Black Consciousness Movement.

    The “Cape Malay” identity was also a subcategory of the “Coloured” category, in the terms of the apartheid-era government’s classifications of ethnicity

  • Eshara

    The word ‘Bantu’ means people, it is plural of the word ‘Muntu’ sing. person.

    This word is used to describe the Nguni people of East, and Southern Africa, who derive their roots from Central Africa. Teh Nguni constitute over 300 sub-groups. My subgroup alone has 18 dialects within it.

    Here are a few examples of how different communities, spell and pronounce the word Person

    South Africa
    Xhosa: muntu plural is ‘bantu’.
    Zulu: muntu. plural is ‘bantu

    East Africa Kenya
    Kiswahili: ‘mtu’ plural is watu
    kikuyu ‘mundu’ (pronounced; ‘modo’
    luhya ‘mundu’ pronounced ‘mundu’ plural is bhandu

    Same word, varied by spelling and writing, in Shona, Ndebele (Zimbabwe), Tsonga (Mozambique, South Africa) Lodzi , Nyanja (Malawi, Zambia), Yao (Tanzania) Luganda (Uganda), Kinyarwanda (Rwanda), the list is long.

    Nguni people find the word ‘Bantu’ offensive because in our opinion, we were always PEOPLE, and we should not have to be called BANTU because what are we if not people first? And what were we before the coloniser so it fit to label us ‘people’. ‘Thina Amanguni’. We are Ngunis!

  • Mikela123

    This is how Europe maintains economic slavery over Africa.

    Beauty is but the surface of how Africans view themselves in relations to Europeans. Africans, in general, still believe that those of European descent are better than them. They see Europeans not just more beautiful, but smarter and overall superior. Now before Africans start jumping all over this comment, I said “in general.” Are there individuals who don’t see it that way – sure. But I’m talking overall, the VAST majority. And that you can’t deny.

    And how can a continent free themselves from the economic exploitation of these foreign entities, conglomerates and regain control of their land’s massive wealth when the people see these foreigners as just plain better than them? How can you overcome your enemy when you view him as your superior, even in the eyes of your God? Mental control = economic control.

    People of African descent across the Diaspora looked to Blacks in the United States to lead the way towards freedom from White domination. And Black Americans have definitely laid the foundation and taken us very far, both politically with the Civil Rights Movement, and culturally, with “I’m Black and I’m Proud” and the “Black is Beautiful” movement.

    But in the end, it always goes back to the Motherland. Until Africans are free, none of us are. And it is Africans and only African themselves who can fight and break free from this mental and economic control.

    I don’t know though, These days I don’t have much faith in them.

  • Meme

    How do you say a person in your language? Are you from S.A? Which part? What tribe? Because in my language (Lingala) we say Mutu and in plural Batu and the BANTU people is not an invention of white people, Afrikaners used it as a derogatory word but it is not an invented word, the Bantu people are simple a collective of people who seem to share common roots in their language, many Bantu language seem to have similar a similar word to describe a person.

  • Anthony

    Meme, that is exactly what I was about to say when I read SA girl’s post. About 400 languages from the Nigeria Cameroon border to the Indian Ocean although the way to South Africa speak languages that use a variation of Bantu for person and that have a similar gramatical structure which is why linguists, not government officials call them Bantu languages. Once again, I understand why SA girl objects to the term, and I will remember not to use it when I speak of black South Africans.

  • Mikela123

    why do some comments get published but others don’t?

  • Crystal Spraggins

    Thanks so much for bringing this issue to my attention. I had no idea. Sad.

  • aj

    Cause Clutch is into biased journalism.. deletion of this comment and the irony of it all in 3…2…..

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  • myblackfriendsays

    I think it is just a glitch in their commenting system. Most of the time, my comments do not post instantly–there is at least a few minutes of lag time.

    I’ve also noticed that it seems to publish comments in batches–like a post will go from 3 comments to 14 comments instantaneously.

  • myblackfriendsays

    And a couple of times, my comment has not posted at all. I wasn’t saying anything particularly controversial–so that makes me think it is just a bug in the system.

  • Coco

    I think we do, do that over here in the US but it’s called plastic surgery. It may not be as extreme but we do exhibit alot of self hatered over here as well toward our black skin and features.But I do agree with you, it is tragic and “we” of a darker hue hate our skin tone but “they” try to get darker and have big lips and booty at the drop of a hat. “We” need to start to wake up. Spike Lee just didn’t just say that at the end of School Daze for the hell of it.

  • GeekMommaRants

    So the world is filled with orange and light-brown people. The oranges used to be white and the light brown folks used to be black. Got it. Everyone is crazy!!

  • thesupersistah

    In 2013 we have a man of color in the white house and still we can’t accept ourselves after all that we’ve achieved. With innovation, determination and strength of will black people are everything from moguls to millionaires but we still hate the skin we are in. It saddens my heart that we still can’t accept ourselves 500+ years after slavery. That this nonsense is happening in the motherland makes it all the more heartbreaking. I wrote a post called Black Girl White Face which describes my take on the topic but this post makes me despair.

    Black People, God doesn’t make mistakes. He loves you as you are.

    the Super Sistah

  • gryph

    hey just because she bleaches her skin to look white, doesn’t mean she wants to look white or thinks that whiteness is any better than blackness

  • gryph

    yes they have. but if every black person made sure to have a child with a white person we wouldn’t have to worry about skin bleaching any more. black love is self-hate

  • http://clutchmagazine blcknnblvuu

    @mikela123’re 500% right.

  • Kam

    As a linguist, I would never call a person a Bantu only the language family. SA girl is right in that it is a constructed term used for a grouping of people who didn’t historically see themselves as a group. It would be like calling most of the people in Europe “Indo Europeans” and collapsing them into one group. The Afrikaners took a Zulu word “abantu”, distorted it and applied to it to the whole group.

  • MsT-Mac

    Pseudonym, that’s what’s behind bleaching period. Acceptance and respect. So, in Africa, these women are made to feel as if they aren’t marriage material if they aren’t lightened (so, less than). In Asia, if your dark-skinned then you are lower class (again, less than.) It’s acceptance and respect that people are looking for. Due to the fact that white races conquered South Africa and America (and pretty much everywhere else) and are looked up to as the ruling class, everyone aspires to this level of respect. Stop the madness! There’s NOTHING like SELF-respect!

  • Sk!tPuller

    The Africans in SA are @$$-backwards, too.

    “But in SA, class and access to better opportunities has to do with being A BLACK PERSON”


    The “Blacks” in SA are on the bottom economically speaking and are still being educated to solve the problems of the Europeans.

    Your depiction of SA as racially harmonious is disingenuous at best. The fact that a few Bantus have nice jobs, live in nice neighborhoods, and received a nice education is insufficient evidence that the country is post-apartheid.

    FYI, the country is still hampered by neo-apartheid wherein the BANTUS where given political freedom only while the Europeans still control the majority of SA economy.

    Lastly, yes, I’ve been to your country more than once and have studied law (or the lack there of) there.

  • Sk!tPuller

    Stop trolling.

  • Sk!tPuller

    I respectively disagree. AAs use the one drop rule. It makes for cleaner mathematics.

    These different terms arguably facilitate the physical/economic/spiritual/emotional enslavement of its users.

    Actually, a large portion of AAs would be considered Colored in SA because of not only their complexion, but also their bone structure.


  • Bitter Silverback

    You n i g g e r s can try all you want…but you will never be anything but worthless animals.

  • Nic

    Yes, very true. Sammy Sosa got his skin turned white (and permed his hair and put in light contacts for good measure), and I have never ever believed that Michael Jackson had vitiligo.

  • Nic

    @Muse, LOL….but you aren’t lying. I’ve seen her picture before and I wonder what on earth is going on there.

    i think she bleaches here skin too…not all biracial people are light.

  • Mrs. Martin

    So the search for whiteness is pandemic. It seems like worldwide..people of color want to become white.What is the big deal about being white????? My goodness…so sad.

  • White Masters

    The best and only solution I can see for this, is to simply forcibly sterilize all with any hint of african ancestry whatsoever. The world would be a much cleaner, brighter, safer place for all human beings, and there would be no unfortunate births of blacks, wishing that they were born as human beings. Human beings would be able to finally be free from the burden of keeping blacks alive due to the fact that they are physically, mentally, genetically, and psychologically unable (and unwilling) to do anything for themselves, and there would be no blacks born with the burden of being missing links between apes and human beings. Win-win, in my humble opinion.

  • cindy ridgway

    some people just have to show me that racism is alive and well…GROW up people. with racism comes sexism. the idea that some people are “less”than you says a lot about your crummy lack of self esteem.


    I personally don’t like it when a person bleaches their skin, not because I think it’s morally wrong but because bleaching has many consequences on your skin. And it, imho, doesn’t necessarily make one more beautiful.

    That said, I don’t believe everybody that bleaches their skin wants to be White. Just like when a White person tan it doesn’t mean they want to become Black. Or when non-black women go under he knife to get fuller lips or a rounder butt…

    The South African lady in the video doesn’t seem to indicate she wants to be White or that she denies her Blackness. She’s still Black.So are other skin-bleaching Negroes. You can’t always blame on self-hate or on white people.

  • William

    This is the craziest thing I have ever read. I am Asian and think black men and women are beautiful. They have the most soft and smooth skin.

  • seriously….

    Get over yourselves.

    Skin bleaching is a shame imo because I think dark skin is beautiful, but as a Nigerian American who knows a couple people that do use those creams back home I can assure you that no one is trying to look White….


    They just want to look more caramel vs chocolate… all of which is still “Black”….and get rid of hyperpigmentation and uneven skin. Black is and has always been beautiful where I come from. To be quite honest pale skin isnt considered attractive at all. The literal translation for the slang term for white people is “ghost”… and one of the girls I know who uses those creams would probably end it all if she woke up White one day. The West loves to make documentaries about how albino people are so poorly treated and shunned….so why people think Africans actually want to look White is beyond me.

    No one shames people for tanning their skin…which to me isnt much different. Both have health risks.

  • Barbara2

    I remember Black Americans who used these bleaching creams, but not anymore. I think the Africans will do the same as time passes.

    The world over influence of the Europeans had this effect on people bleaching their skin and trying to look White.

    I do hope time will reverse that European influence, as Blacks begin to celibrate their beautifuly color and oh sooo soft feeling skin.

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  • http://FaceBook Bobbie Woody

    Barbara2.. As long as major celebrities are lightening their skin and wearing blonde weaves and wigs (Beyonce and RiRi) Black girls will continue to hate their skin and hair and will not only lighten their skin and dye their hair and get plastic surgery to make them look like white people, but they will bully anyone else that looks like an African American.

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