The recent #tenyearchallenge had a lot of people posting old and new pictures-it was fun to see how some of us have stayed the same and others have changed dramatically. I, being an active participant in social media trends, quickly looked up some pictures to use.
I decided early on I wanted to include my sister and cousin in my pictures. I couldn’t find two pictures exactly ten years apart, so I settled for two pictures of the three of us approximately seven years apart. I used #nowandthen. When I showed my sister and cousin our pictures side by side they both agreed I looked like I could have been bleaching. I looked closer and agreed that yes, I did look lighter in the 2019 verses the 2012 picture. I decided to include #notbleaching in my caption to dispel anyone else thinking that I bleached my skin (my mother’s close friend also thought I was bleaching and shared her concerns).
I am putting it out there: No I am not a bleacher (the very idea of doing that to my skin is laughable). The only thing I bleach is my hair-especially when I want bright pink highlights!
The #tenyearchallenge reignited a conversation on social media as it related to skin bleaching. Many commentators pointed out (jokingly) how many Jamaicans aren’t posting their before and after pictures because they don’t want anyone to notice their (often obvious) bleaching. Even popular dancer, Gully Chris, highlights the bleaching trend in his post here. Although it is laugh out loud funny, Chris highlights a pervasive issue that is all too familiar in not just the Caribbean community, but world wide.
Where does the need come from for those to lighten their skin? Are they trying to be lighter because they were made fun of for being of a darker hue? Or are they lightening their skin simply because they believe lighter skin is more beautiful?
For myself, I have been told many times that I am pretty, for a dark skinned girl. Luckily, I had a mother that drilled in my head often that I was beautiful. She told me once that as a young preschooler I used to come home crying because my fellow classmates did not want to play with me because of my dark skin. My mother recalled how it hurt her that her baby was hurt. She sat me down and told me:
#1 I am beautiful.
#2 The world is better with all different kinds of people with different skin colors.
She used my box of crayons as an example.
“Anika, if you only had a blue crayon to draw pictures, would you like that?”
I quickly answered, “No. That’s not fun”.
“Exactly, your picture is more beautiful with more colors. One color gets boring. That’s how the world is, it’s better to have many different people with many different skin colors. All are beautiful”.
Her constant reminder throughout the years that my dark skin was beautiful helped build an armor around me and protected me when I received back handed compliments like, “You’re pretty for a dark skinned girl” or “Don’t go natural, your permed hair makes you pretty”. This armor later protected my while during my third year at Hampton University, someone I dated told me he could never bring me home.
“You’re too dark. My pops would never go for it and the funny thing is, my dad is your complexion”.
I would love to hear from those that believe there is nothing wrong with bleaching one’s skin. As well as those that are opposed to bleaching. What’s your take? Please comment below, until next time: peace and blessings.