Expert sounds warning on bleaching as colourism debate erupts

Expert sounds warning on bleaching as colourism debate erupts
Johannesburg - The recent Twitter war that erupted between celebrities on colourism in a country that is still grappling with the divisive effects of racial segregation based on skin colour are a cause for concern.

Actress and TV presenter Pearl Thusi - who has had an international breakthrough in the US TV series Quantico - had to defend herself on Twitter, saying her success had nothing to do with her light skin complexion but was due to her “working extra hard”.

In her altercation with fellow actress Bonnie Mbuli, Thusi said she got all her roles on merit and her looks had nothing to do with it.

“I have lost many jobs to dark-skinned women because I didn’t fit the mould of a real black woman. Being light will not get you where you want; instead, you need to work harder to prove a point” Thusi retorted.

Beleaguered personalities Khanyi Mbau, Mshoza and Kelly Khumalo have come under fire for undergoing skin-bleaching therapy to make themselves much lighter, as though competing to be the “fairest of them all”.

Mbau admitted to skin-lightening being her personal choice so as to avoid spending too much time applying make-up, which she found to be time-consuming.

“About 90% of my skin is cosmetic now. It was a personal choice because it is something I preferred and I did not do skin-lightening to fit in the entertainment industry. I wanted to use less make-up. It was about maintenance.”

However, Nelson R Mandela School of Medicine head of dermatology Professor Ncoza Dlova warned that “people should not be encouraged to lighten their skin, period”.

“It saddens me to see patients with damaged skin and having to tell them: ‘I’m sorry, there is nothing I can do to help you.’ It makes me even more sad to realise that patients did not even know the active ingredients of the creams they used, nor the complications of such use.

“Hence, our main objective is to get the word out there and inform and educate our consumers so that they can make informed choices,” said Dlova.

Colourism is defined as a form of discrimination against people who have a darker skin tone, thus forcing many to resort to dangerous forms of skin-lightening in order to be viewed as “beautiful” and socially acceptable.

In South Africa we have even coined the word “yellow bone”, a flattering description of people with lighter skin tones.

This week, Senegalese midfielder Krepin Diatta trended on social media when he was bullied for his dark skin instead of being commended for his prowess on the soccer field.

The debate was sparked by a Nigerian model who took to Twitter and said she would never marry” a “ceramic”, even if she were to be paid 50million naira”, referring to Diatta’s dark skin.

Social media users elevated the slander, leading it to trend across the continent.

Diatta expressed his disappointment at how fellow Africans made a mockery of him.

The Sunday Independent