Pulse Opinion: We are the reason why Nigerian women bleach

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Skin lightening

Skin bleaching and skin lightening is because of male preference and institutional colourism.

Let’s not lie, guys, the reason women bleach, tone and lighten their skins is because of us.

A lot of men have unknowingly helped the bleaching industry became big business. You might have never bought a skin lightening cream for your partner but you have in little and subtle ways push the narrative that fairer skin is more attractive than darker skin.

'Oyinbo pepper', 'light skin', 'yellow pawpaw', 'half-caste' are some of the terms Nigerian men use to describe attractive women of fairer complexion.


Now mention how many terms we have for beautiful dark skinned women. Zero. This imbalance shows societal preference towards light skin women. In the scale of attraction, light skin women rank higher than dark skin women.

'Omo Pupa' sang by Nigerian highlife legend Sir Victor Olaiya is a song about a man’s desire to bag a light skin woman. The record was released in 1961.


This shows to tell you that this preference for women of the fairer skin has been around for a while. Fela Kuti in 1976 had to release a diss record for women who bleached their skin. It was titled 'Yellow Fever'. It's a good guess to believe that Fela Anikulapo-Kuti had seen enough of Nigerian women bleaching that he did something about it.


From Yellow Fever to 'Bora' by Patoranking and Olamide, Nigerian singers have mocked women who bleach. Here is the funny thing though, check the average Nigerian music video and it is more than likely that light skin video vixens will be more than the dark skin ones.

Institutional colourism is pretty much everywhere. Put on your TV and you will notice that ladies of the fairer skin tend to be more than dark skin women.

ALSO READ: Nivea under attack for its skin lightening advert

Music video directors prefer to use fair skin vixens in their videos because they say they appear better on HD. The same applies to movies also.


Oh, and in case you didn't know the colour film was invented for white people and not black people. It would take years for this defect to be corrected.

At a certain time in the Nigerian banking sector, the new generation banks preferred to employ light skin women as its marketers. A particular bank was known for employing mostly light skin female women.

ALSO READ: How foreign beauty brands push black people to lighten their skin

This disparity in taste is a reason why skin bleaching and lightening is big business in Nigeria. Some women think that if they make their skin lighter, they would be more attractive.


The choice to bleach or meddle with your skin colour or skin tone still boils down to the individual but societal preference and bias towards a certain skin type have made bleaching big business.

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