The issue of bleaching is nothing new in African societies, with Ghana being no different. In this day and age, being light-skinned is perceived as an instant definition of beauty. Although it may be easy to criticise people who succumb to the pressures of bleaching, one must also consider the perceptions, ideologies, and the imageries within our contemporary society which leaves some to assume that being light-skinned is the way to go.
With a substantial amount of media images depicting light-skinned women in various glamorous positions, it is no wonder that the consumers of these media images are left with the perception that being light-skinned is more attractive than being dark-skinned. It is not only the ordinary woman (or the ordinary man in some cases) who is vulnerable to the pressures of skin bleaching.
Even within our entertainment industry, it has become quite blatant that some actresses and actors have fallen prey to the adage of light-skin equalling beauty. Ok, having covered a film production module as part of my university degree, I am not gullible enough to believe that the camera never lies- IT DOES…a lot in my opinion.
Now I’ve never considered myself to be a Naomi Campbell look-a-like or the next Ghana’s Top Model- my favourite meal of Banku and Okro Soup made sure of that. But, after seeing myself on camera during my film assignment, I resembled a human whale, and I know that no matter how much Banku and Okro Soup I had consumed during my lifetime, it wasn’t enough to leave me looking like that onscreen. Therefore, I know that the camera does indeed lie; sometimes the lighting may cause a person to appear lighter than they are in reality.
However, the actors and actresses who bleach their skin will be unable to use this excuse due to one primary thing- the paramount signs of bleaching; dark knuckles, cheek pigmentation, and uneven skin tone. Personally, I fail to understand why a person would want to look like a walking rainbow with the colour of their skin not even matching. Yet, the gradual increase of stars within the entertainment industry that have resorted to bleaching suggests that bleaching is ‘in’.
Being the fair (as in unbiased) person that I am, I’m not going to just sit here and vilify these entertainers without looking at both sides of the coin. Nowadays, the Ghanaian film industry is aiming high- we are not only limiting ourselves specifically to an African target audience, but also to the mainstream Western society.
In the Western arena, the majority of ‘black’ actors and actresses actually have a caramel complexion, as opposed to chocolate; there appears to be a ‘light-skinned’ supremacy ideology ruling the roost. Though it may be easy to slander some Ghanaian entertainers for not being strong-willed enough to resist the pressures of skin-bleaching, it is worth taking into account WHY they resort to bleaching.
Is skin bleaching merely due to self-image issues? Surely not- firstly as God’s children and secondly as Ghanaians, we’re beautiful. (Take a look at Jackie Appiah, even Mikki Osei Berko- aka Master Richard from the Taxi Driver fame, are they not well looking?).
Or, is skin bleaching the result of a more serious issue- pressure within an entertainment industry where light-skinned stars appear to reign over their dark-skinned counterparts?
Personally, I do not believe any of the reason above is enough to justify the act of skin bleaching. Why do people bleach? Simple- it’s because of society!
A substantial amount of African societies have integrated within their communities the belief that light-skinned is more attractive than dark-skinned; not only is the above an entrenched stand of most individuals, light skinned persons are also deemed to be more intelligent and sexually desirable.
In order to refrain from being a hypocrite, I will admit that I find Van Vicker very attractive- an attraction that doesn’t stem from just his cute face but also, his caramel complexion.
There is no denying that the Media have also been significant in promoting the view that light-skinned is the best, by frequently denoting lightness as a symbol of beauty, and the defining standard of attractiveness.
Ultimately, no matter how mentally strong a person may be, they may still be vulnerable enough to succumb to the pressures of external forces aka the Media, and society.
Due to a rapid desire to conform to society’s ‘definition’ of beauty, many people who bleach fail to realise the extent to which they are actually damaging their skin; the strong willingness to be classified as attractive clouds their concern over their health, leaving them open to diseases as scary as skin cancer.
On an end note, it can be argued that although stars may have self-image issues that lead them to bleach their skin, ultimately, it is the pressures of the entertainment industry that leads them to take this route- the pressures of an entertainment industry where appearance overrides talent.
My Ghanaian people, we need to wake up and smell the coffee (a black one- no milk) and realise that we are all beautiful simply because we are children of God. It says in the Holy Book itself that our bodies are God’s temple, and to damage it with bleaching agents is to damage God’s work.
Although it may be easier said than done, we need to learn to love ourselves no matter what, and refrain from conforming to others’ perception of what beauty may or may not be. Look in the mirror and love yourself because BLACK IS BEAUTIFUL! Why do you think white people spend all that money going on holidays and visiting tanning salons? – They wish they had our darker skin!
By: Regina Sackey Addo/GhanaCelebrities.com/ United Kingdom