Kenyan model Vera Sidika is known for her trademark curvy body, but she recently came under fire for lightening her skin. While many celebs have been accused of bleaching and denied it, Sidika is very up front about why she chose to alter her appearance.
Sidika, who’s been called Kenya’s Kim Kardashian because she’s famous for being famous, appeared on the talk show #theTrend to discuss her career goals and why she underwent “professional” skin lightening in the UK.
After admitting her weave costs 450,000 Kenyan shillings (over $5000), Sidika, who says she’s dating a Nigerian oil tycoon, explained she bleached her skin because she “felt like she needed a change” and “the change is working out.”
Since stripping the color from her skin, Sidika said her bookings, appearances, and income have all increased. “Looking good is my business,” she explained matter-of-factly, dismissing the idea that she bleached her skin because of some deep-seated issue.
While Sidika told the host she spent upward of 15 million Kenyan shillings ($170,000) to lighten her skin and her finances have benefitted from the change, she was careful to say that she doesn’t advocate lightening. However, if people felt they really wanted to follow her lead, she suggested they “do it the right way” and consult a dermatologist.
The reaction to Sidika’s lightened complexion has been swift and harsh. After her interview, the hashtag #BleachedBeauty sprang up on Twitter and was filled with tweets calling Sidika “very strange” and “tragic.”
— LawLad (@RolandEbole) June 8, 2014
— jotham (@jothamhimself) June 8, 2014
Sidika’s interview has also sparked national conversation and condemnation as many Kenyans have pushed back against her lightened image, particularly in light of Lupita Nyong’o’s global popularity as a dark skin woman.
Despite the outrage, #theTrend host Larry Madowo told the BBC many Kenyan men do indeed prefer “yellow, yellow” women, and skin lightening is a growing problem in the country. Sidika is undaunted by the criticism. As a matter of fact she told Madowo, “Nicki Minaj and Rihanna did it,” and doesn’t understand why her decision has engendered so much disapproval given the widespread bleaching in Kenya, and Africa at large.