Bleaching: Are Light-Skinned Entertainers Putting Dark-Skinned Ones In The Shade?

5 min

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/ United Kingdom

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  1. Well said girl, well said… Dark skin is magnificant, radiant and gorgeous. Please, lets not change it for anything, but rather make the best of what God gave us and be proud of it. Let learn to accept the dark skin tone that we were born with. There’s nothing at all wrong with dark skin, or being darker. As a matter of fact, I think dark skin is just lovely – embrace it! All colors are beautiful!

    1. @tt,shut da fuck up 
      if u dnt have anything positive to say den plaz don’t comment becoz dark skinned arre just as beautiful as light skin… 

  2. Actually dark skin is in now !!!

    Light skin is fading …
    no-one really cares as much. Here in North America (at least from what I see) there is a growing preference for darker complexions.

  3. very interesting topic but my thing is, why is the black man always defending his skin colour??? u don’t see any white person saying ” white is beautiful” . It’s about time we( black, white , blue etc) look beyond the skin colour and place importance on character, talent etc… Personally, i think every skin colour is beautiful provided it’s well taken care of. I’m light skinned but really, i’d rather be identified by my intellect than how “fair” i am!!


  4. @tt: then i guess u dont have good eyes or maybe lack brightness in ur eyes.
    there are more dark beautiful women out there. i can can see u just like e light skin ones.

  5. As for me, I ‘ve NEVER anything special with a light skin. Is it because u will not really recognise the ugliness of a white skinned somebody or whats so special about it?
    I think dark skin does it for me.

  6., u not normal..hahahahahh…Men are bleaching even more than women these Besia, if u know what i mean…haha

  7. well thats brilliant,but there is a broader issue out there not just skin bleaching.we should a lso stop relaxing our hair and embrace our true african selfs and if black is beautiful,then why hide under wigs n weaves n relaxers.relaxers r more dangerous i think.

  8. Boyz are impressed with ‘bleached skin’. REAL MEN prefers natural women.
    Don’t these girls know bleaching your skin tells a MAN that they have low-self-esteem problems? Same goes for the dudes who are doing the same and leaving out their knuckles. lol. Not to mention the skin cancer and the odor. I’ve never dated a ‘washer’ and never will(slept with a few though, truth be told). It’s bad enough we have to deal with rubber/horse hair and fake tits. Now who’s primitive? Some people’s mindset never seizes to amaze me. Just because everybody is doing it doesn’t mean it’s what’s right. The majority can be wrong dammit. Which in this case they are. After all, if you’re willing to KILL YOURSELF just to get a MAN, something tells that MAN that there’s something wrong with you deep down. Now put those creams away and and lighten up. no pun intended. 

    The truth hurts. I know. Just don’t kill yourself over it. It’s not worth it

  9. as much as you people scream dark skin/black is beautiful, lalala….ghollywood shows you the exact opposite.
    more people ought to stand up against their bullshit and even boycott including those porn videos they call movies. REAL TALK! @tt you are a damn fool @ ancient, you do have a point

  10. OMG! this topic just makes my toes and hair follicles crawl. Ancientt, respect to u man. It is so sad, when I read the history of Africa, where we were Kings and Queens of the world and this going on with our race just makes me sad and at times even mad. Startin with our schools, where it is punishable to speak Twi. Forgetting our culture for the sake of the western world and the “trying so hard to” look westernize bullcrap. Seriously, it’s just a big Shame. I so love being African, that I will forever refuse to relax my hair, (hence the name Ras-gyal), bleach my skin and forget where I come from. What is the purpose of all this? Is it just so the white man will accept me? Ha! Like I said, we come from Kings and Queens, why do we need the approval of the white man or generally the western to be proud of who we are? The white man thought our coarse hair looks dreadful, they think our noses are weird, our skins too dark, our butts too big, our lips too big…the same white man now, braid their hair, undergo surgery to have big butts, big lips and uses the tanning booth twice a week. So what should this tell us Africans? We have something they envy. It will never come to them easily. The white man and even most Afro Americans who will fight u when u tell them they look like their ancestors coulda been Ethiopian or from West Africa. Afro Americans/Africnas trying to be something they r not is just pitiful and really shows a low self-esteem. most Africans/Afro Americas disgrace our race because they want to become something they are not. From the weaves to bleachings. What is wrong with my people. Use a hot comb on ur hair if u think it’s too coarse. Appreciate the color of ur skin. Whether u are black but look red from bleaching too much, let me say, that u will never become white. BE PROUD OF WHO U R! GOD HAD A PURPOSE OF CREATING U THE WAY HE DID. I saw a woman in Accra once who had bleached so much, u could see through her wounded red skin all the blood vessels that I almost threw up from gagging. how can one think that that is pretty?

  11. Oh and one thing I forgot to mention…u girls relaxing ur hair and buyin those weaves to decieve men are pitiful believe me I tell my sisters and cousins the same too…PITIFUL BEINGS, the only one benefiting is the WHITE man(again) who invented it to look more like them. Nsem piiiii!

  12. it starts within the home… parents need to instill into their children self-worth. if not they will succumb to all the crap that society dishes out.

  13. Well um , aint this what black people fought against , not to be seperated or looked down etc by the colour of our skin. And now as black people we are seperating ourselves i mean c’mon. Personally i blame the media ( Society has change and ” light skin ” is ”in” . I dont think its ever really gonnna change .
    [ Black is BEAUTIFUL ) & At the end of the day [ WE ARE ALL BLACK ).
    But everyone has the right to choose what they prefer.

    – Your really pretty for a DARK skin girl -_-

  14. This whole dark skin and light skin thing goes far beyond what we always make it out to be. Girls, let me tell you our skin colour is very unique and rare. Have you realized how only Africans or people of African descent have really dark skin? Everyone else is light skinned. God knows why he created us this way, your skin and your natural hair makes you look like a queen- especially for those of us who lives in America,Europe, you name it. It makes you stand out from the crowd. Think of it this way, you know how you can relax your hair if you have nappy hair? the white man can’t do that. So carry what you have with confidence.