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Complexion Obsession



lightdark-150x150A few weeks ago, I attended a wedding. One of the huge weddings that had me saying hi to my friends, my husband’s friends, relatives on both sides of my family and tons of ‘aunties’. While doing the rounds, one of these ‘aunties’ grabbed me in a bear hug and spent the next 5 minutes asking how every member of my family was doing. Then she focused on me, said I looked good but……’Uzo, you have to do something about your skin. You are too dark’. For a split second, I thought I heard wrong but the look on her face told me she had actually said the words. So I laughed and asked her what I could do about this ‘problem’ and she told me she would ‘mix some cream and send it to me’.

Now I am more than secure enough with myself now so I walked away from that event, having had a great time and not worried about my dark skin. But that conversation got me thinking. Apparently to this ‘auntie’, my appearance was not perfect because of my dark skin.

A few weeks later, I was at a shopping complex on a mission to find a local massage place I had been referred to. I found the address and the ladies rushed to me – ‘auntie, wetin you wan do. Rolling, toning? I was curious, so I asked about the toning package. I was taken to one of the rooms in this ‘beauty center’ and my guide explained – that I would lay down on this bed (which was covered in heavy duty plastic wrap – at least I think that was what it was), ‘cream’ would be slathered all over me (I would be completely nude) and then the massage girl would massage this cream into my skin using a rolling pin. Apparently this procedure has the benefit of also breaking down fat as well. I would need to do this once a week until I got to the desired shade and then come once a month for ‘maintenance’. In between, I would use the creams mixed for me. I was speechless and high tailed it out of there.

This incident got me thinking again. I remembered a conversation I had with another auntie (this one a real blood relative) before my wedding. I was at a funky spa getting the pre-wedding package done. She came to pick me up and as we walked past the products portion of the spa, she stopped and said she would get me ‘the brightening range’ to even my complexion out and give me even more beautiful skin. She must have been bothered by my dark skin again.

What is this obsession with having lighter skin? There appears to be a global perception that lighter is more beautiful. I have read several pieces that attribute part of the success of ladies like Beyonce, Halle Berry to their lighter skin tone. These articles have compared their talent to actresses such as Viola Davis and Alfre Woodard who are ‘spectacular’ actresses but who get less face time because of their darker skin. There was a lot of backlash with L’Oreal and Beyonce last year – allegations that L’Oreal used technology to make Mrs Carter a few shades lighter. Of course Beyonce’s camp issued a statement about her being proud of her heritage and all – but don’t the pictures get approved by the celeb before they go to print? Even Lil Kim (regardless of all her issues) has been on an altering mission for a few years – with all the surgery, colored contact lens and definite skin lightening.

In Nigeria, I see ‘multicolored’ ladies on the streets with bright orange faces and dark legs, knuckles, knees and elbows. I guess the more well-to-do ladies must opt for brightening ranges from French products that give more even results with fewer side effects? Men are not exempt either. I see men walking around who are definitely lightening up. If women are not lightening up, they are using lighter shades of foundation and powder to achieve the lighter look

Do we blame the media following the age old logic that ‘white’ has been pushed in our faces as the perfect standard of beauty? Or are we looking at a deeper self-esteem issues? Or is it really just a matter of personal choice? After-all this is a day and age where anything can be changed- get boobs increased or reduced in size, change your eye-color, hair color, hair length, nail length, get padded jeans to boost your derriere etc…perhaps skin tone is simply something else that can be changed because once chooses to.

Clearly, I am perceived by some to be less beautiful or downright unattractive due to my darker skin. I am so secure in my fabulousity that frankly I don’t give a damn but I enjoy watching the looks of horror on the faces of ‘friends’ and aunties’ who don’t understand why I am not interested in coming along with them to get some mixed cream to make me more ‘beautiful’.

Uzo Orimalade is the head baker at Cupcake Couture – a boutique bakery and creative director of Uzo’s Food Labs – a culinary studio. She also hosts Friday Food on The Spot on EbonyLifeTV. When she isn’t in her food lab, her head is almost always buried in a book. Visit her blog:


  1. Beeba

    September 15, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    This post answers so many prayers , so many dark friend wanting to use some type of lotion to get a litlle bit lighter – i think its crazy ! i’ll be forwarding this post to them!

  2. Licous

    September 15, 2009 at 7:07 pm

    Oh jesu not this topic again…sugabelly come and have a field day.
    Bella this is becoming old gist, this light versus dark topic abeg.

  3. Z

    September 15, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    When I was younger, I used to wish I had Alek Wek’s skin, I was so envious! Dark skin is gorgeous, simply beautiful, period.

    Light skin is envied in so many countries and cultures because it plays to the ideal of light skin, straight hair, looking more white, in short. It’s not a ‘style’. It’s about what society calls pretty, and the risks people are willing to take to follow that standard.

  4. Miss Fizzy

    September 15, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    You said it!! Ryan Leslie actually made a video for “Addiction” that used only dark skinned African models. He was showing that we are intensely beautiful because of and not despite our dark skin.

  5. sweetbabes

    September 15, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Mixed race children(half-caste) are often refered to as blacks.
    and thats the colour evn white people wanna achieve,thats why white people tan as well so they do not look to pale or white or woteva.

    People that lightening do it because it enhances their features.
    sum pple hv been sun-damamged thus light bodies nd darker faces.naturally,one tends to be concerned and wanna match,thus lightening

    but for pple who r naturally dark,i dont know wot say 4 them,guess the admire light skinned,mixed race pple nd dey wanna achieve that look……*rily dont know*
    i believe everyone should do woteva makes them happy but remember to do everything with moderation.

  6. Kiki

    September 15, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    LOL @ “padded jeans” “derriere” “multi-colored ladies”….. But, on a serious note what’s the craze with being light skin?! I saw an aunt in 2001 after 6 years and I almost walked past her because I didn’t recognize her, she was literally ‘white’. Before the transformation my aunt was as dark skinned as Stephanie Okereke, but now using Uzo’s term she’s really multicolored.

    ‘Blame it on the Media’….. These days almost every “negative issue” is blamed on the media, agreed they play a part in brainwashing people, but I believe we all make our choices.

    I am light skinned & I’m thankful to God & my parents genes for my complexion. There are times when I wish I had bigger boobs & I were darker, but would I do a boob job?!NO! And if there were a way to get darker would I do it?! NO! Because I’m comfortable in my own skin & all that is just Vanity!

    Human beings are just insatiable.

  7. Naija

    September 15, 2009 at 8:00 pm

    You write well. You should make real money with your talent and write for the New York Times.

  8. Obi-talker

    September 15, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    infact some people have already taken the words right out of my fingers. this topic again!!!!!!!! bella naija is gradually beginning to turn to nigerian forum for all things racial, hair, oyinbo matter, skin colour. any ways lets see where all these goes. who knows bella’s aim may be to re-orientate the average woman on her self confidence…who knows?

  9. KayBayBay

    September 15, 2009 at 9:05 pm

    *yawns* Frankly this light skinned dark skinned debate gets a bit tired after a while. Oh well……anywhos i’m light skinned and i loveee the dark skin complexion, people have got it so twisted man becoz BLACK is definitely beautiful x

  10. Opium

    September 15, 2009 at 9:21 pm

    lmao..oh dont you worry Licous, Ze Suga “lady” will come out and play real soon..I’m starting my count down now 10..9..8………………….

  11. Bored

    September 15, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    If you are so “secure” then why is this a topic for you? People that are secure in themselves do not go about whining about the same topic every other week. Why so much focus on colour? Why do you keep putting people into different groups? light skinned, dark skinned, natural hair, straight hair. What’s the obsession and who cares? People that bleach or tone or whatever have made their own choices. Whether they have been affected by the media or not, at the end of the day, its their choice. You are doing more harm than good by constantly focusing on colour. If you want to affect change, then focus on the positive and stop putting so much energy on spreading negativity. Spread more love and you will get love, spread hate and you will get hate. PEACE.

  12. nene

    September 15, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    …and ur point is?! she’s obviously advising you us 2 love ourself regardsless honey…don’t get defensive.

  13. Hellish

    September 16, 2009 at 12:06 am


    sorry abt caps

  14. jen

    September 16, 2009 at 12:15 am

    Typical slave, why would anyone say “you’re too dark” is Oluchi too dark, what about Alek Wek? Naomi Campbell, Iman?

    Wake up Africans and face

  15. buffy

    September 16, 2009 at 12:42 am

    dnt knw y pips hv probs wiv ds topic,its very necessary esp owin to the fact many pple r changin dr skin color totally to light skin color.i in particular hv noticed dy r few darker gals arnd,and we insult M.J.i appreciate uzo’s article cz it jst shows dt pple still wnt to care for dr dark skin no matter wat pple say and tink.nicely said and written

  16. Maryam

    September 16, 2009 at 12:51 am

    Bored…Your comment is meaningless! What point are you trying to prove? Your are probably one of those “orange looking ladies”, and thats why you’re whinning over this posting..
    A lot of women are facing similar issues regarding their skin color.

  17. YAWN

    September 16, 2009 at 1:41 am

    i am tired of this topic jare…just like the whole natural hair and relaxed hair shit!!!anyone who thinks being lightskinned means beauty and darkskin ugly is obviously retarded and it is all colonial mentality…who gives a fuck…if you are dark and you want to be light pls go and BLEACH…when you get cancer of the skin just like my aunt who bleached her life out(she passed away from the cancer) i will write you an topic please…YAWN!

  18. sweetie

    September 16, 2009 at 2:09 am

    sweetbabes love your comment….makes sense

  19. Cici

    September 16, 2009 at 2:29 am

    Seriously, dark skin vs light skin, real hair vs good hair vs fake hair, is getting tiring. I was just done watching Tyra Banks, and she was talking about been biracial, then I said let me check bella naija, for naija news, it’s complexion issue, not again, all of these is becoming a joke to me.

    I understand these are real issues, but it’s time to ignore, and move forward, there are more important issues than, i don’t like my dark skin, i don’t like been black or white or brown, I don’t like my big forehead, find hairstyle that will cover the head, I don’t like been fat, then lose weight. That’s the reason why I admire how Barack Obama handles himself. I remember when some people said he’s not black enough, he was raised by his white grandparent, he’s African, Michelle is not beautiful because she has strong black features, by the time he ignored all these nonsense and went on with his life, didn’t people keep quiet.

    I know aunts and cousins who went from Alek Wek’s complexion to looking pale, or greenish-orangish, all kind of rainbow colors. If people want to change themselves, or hate themselves, that’s their problem.

    I don tire sef, now I have serious headache, d kin only panadol can cure.

  20. Tell It like it Is (

    September 16, 2009 at 3:49 am

    i am purple skin and i love it

    nonsensical discussion.


    September 16, 2009 at 7:17 am

    i havent been commenting on this site too much lately, but bella seems to be posting everything and anything lately.
    some things dont even have to do with africa or make much sense.
    im not trying to “put bella down” but sometimes what she posts are like “wtf”
    im light and i CANT STAND it how so many black people hate themselves.
    but i really dont see the point behind this particular blog. this site is becoming too much. we all know this lame old topic.
    and the one about the natural hair and the tyra banks thing, “wtf” again.
    i didnt even bother clicking on that one when i saw it.
    this thing is boring, yawn.

    it seems bella is turning her site into a playground.

  22. 2 gems (Dith)

    September 16, 2009 at 8:16 am

    um isn’t this stale gist by now on this site or we hvnt had enough yet??
    Can we talk abt other beauty issues besides natural hair and skin color??

    Issues like waxing, shaving, laser, depilotary creams,….which is better? dangerous? economical? How it is being perceived now in naija versus in d past when it was viewed as an ashawo thing??
    Something different pls abeg!

  23. Vendi

    September 16, 2009 at 9:26 am

    Bored, please get a life. If you cant make constructive contributions to the topic, keep mute ok? This is a very relevant topic which could help stop some ladies who may be insecure enough to contemplate changing their skin colour. Also note that it is very petty to attack the originator instead of the gist of the matter.

  24. Vendi

    September 16, 2009 at 9:52 am

    Thanks Uzo for this pertinent subject. Everyday people are making the decision about whether to change their skin colour or not and this could help dissuade them. We also need to be more accomodating as not all of us are secure in our looks and it could be someone very close to you who gets skin cancer tomorrow ‘cos we didnt care enough.

  25. Oma

    September 16, 2009 at 11:29 am


    dis a nice one, pls keep it up.

    dnt mind dose fanta face, coke legs jare. am black and pround of it

  26. prest

    September 16, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    dis topic is rather stale and has been over-thrashed but at the end of the day, its a personal thing……next..

  27. AS

    September 16, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    Daing, you guys complain about everything. If Bella doesn’t put a story out, you complain. If Bella puts a story out, you complain. Go an start your own blog, magazine, etc and write your own darn topics. GEEZ!!

  28. Ade

    September 16, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    Good points; it is about ignoring and moving on to more important contributions I/we can make; the brain is more important than the skin.

  29. silva

    September 16, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    this issue of changing ur appearance is nt solely an african problem, evry day we watch on tv shows like dr 90210 and odas, people who go through great lenghts and risks to change their appearance. this is due to the insatiable nature of humans, simply put, we r neva satisfied. in some parts of the world people are bleaching their skin and in odas, people spend hrs in tanning beds…poeple risk their lives undergoin unecessary cosmetic procedures to enhance their image, all over america we hv bulimic and anorexic young girls who r obsessed with being skinny. evrythin boils dwn 2 self esteem and ur environment.
    and we can talk all we want, these people all know the dangers involved in dis procedures, but do dey listen, no…so y bother?

  30. africhika

    September 17, 2009 at 3:34 am

    it’s an over-used, cliche topic, but it is still important.

  31. hehe

    September 17, 2009 at 3:55 am

    hehehe, i bet the old bleached ladies are the ones complaining , bella is hitting a sentitive spot and you are trying to shut down the effect , the truth is the truth , bleaching ur skin wont help matters at all , anyone who “wowo” is definitely “wowo” and its a pity bleached skin cant be reversed. hehehehehe

  32. brown sugar

    September 17, 2009 at 6:02 am

    @ sweetbabes, love your comment. i know i share the skin damage part.

    I don’t understand why people are bashing bella for this post. typical african mentality, sweep it under the mat.
    This is a very important issue affecting africans all over the world and even if it’s blogged 365 days a year, it should not be offensive to anyone. If you don’t identify with the topic, move on to the next blog.
    personally i am not the darkest girl out there but it takes a lot of confidence and restraint to not feel so “worthless” standing next to a light babe. Not because she might be prettier than me (darker girl) but because you already know what 95% of the crowd has already concluded. It’s even worse if your features aren’t too appealing. How many times do we africans use the word “black” and “ugly” together?
    Lets not stray from the topic at hand. the problem is, people bleaching isn’t an individual thing only, it is a societal problem. If we didn’t smirk at a dark girl but smile at a light girl bleaching creams will be out of business. I know of men and sometimes women that refuses to date a dark skinned person because they do not want their children to come out “dark.” Then why would a person not want to go that route if they forsee better opportunities in changing their complexion? like it or not, these are all facts. So if you are reading this blog, man or woman, try being less judgmental about a person’s complexion. Bella i do not think you are insecure for writing this, it takes a lot out of someone to talk about these issues especially if you on the receiving end.

  33. curvy

    September 17, 2009 at 10:16 am

    This is a topic I know too well….LOL…light skinned-dark skinned..

    Born to a Fulani mum and an Edo pops….My three sisters and only brother have all of my mum’s features..from the ‘good hair’ to the straight noses..they all look very similar…verrryyyy….Me? I look exactly like my pops. Dark skinned…I cant even begin to tell u about the challenges I faced growing up!
    A few people even thought of me as the-cousin- that- grew -up -with –that- family-but-is -now –like- a -sister!
    I wont deny I had a few issues with my skin tone as a child cuz I realised a lot of adults thought you cant be a cute little girl if you are not ‘yellow’
    A teacher once asked me to give up my seat in primary school for the new ‘half caste’ girl
    Are you sure that’s really your sister people would ask ( I have a twin sister…the only thing identical or similar about us is our gender!!)
    Even as a teenager, some of my friends (and the environment-) saw being light skinned as the only way forward.

    Am a 26 year adult now…and am proud as hell of my skin tone ( Mac NW50 baby!!)
    In my opinion I have the most amazing skin tone and its utterly stunning ( if I may…:p)
    Even though society puts all sorts of pressure on you, how ever you react to it its up to you….
    As I write this I have two friends who are currently in a ‘competition’ to see who ‘light skin’ would suit the most….

    Me? I love the skin am in …it’s the only one ive got and I dunno how else to look!

  34. Ola

    September 17, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Bella didn’t write this.

  35. Bored

    September 17, 2009 at 10:51 am

    My point is the truth. Stop focusing on dividing people.

  36. Bored

    September 17, 2009 at 10:57 am

    and you are obviously one of them, thats why you are here replying to something that was not even directed at you. Why is my comment paining you?

  37. Woman Scorned

    September 17, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    When will readers realise that its NOT Bella who wrote this blog oooo??!! The writer’s name is there guys….I have noticed that when a gd post is made, you guys say ‘well done Bella’, when a bad one is put up, you now abuse Bella. Na wa!

  38. nwanne

    September 17, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    I grew up with a very light skinned mother and very very light skinned cousins and aunties people often wondered if we had oyibo blood in our family(lol).Me on d other hand i am dark skinned.I never thought anything of it and no one every bothered me about it.In primary school the only thing i knew was that people were partial towards biracial kids and teachers didnt want to beat them and all that shit… but i never knew that people thought regular light skinned was more beautiful.In high school, everytime we did awards miss beautiful in my class was always a darkskinned girl and eventually in senior year the girl who won miss beautiful for my set was also i never even thought light skinned was anything special…Imagine my shock when i got into college in naija and all of a sudden light skinned this, yellow girl that…then one of my friends made a comment about a girl she said ” men, even for a light skinned girl, Nkechi is ugly” and then i realized that light skin was somehow a passport to beauty… unfortunately for me the two friends i rolled with then were very very light skinned girls with straight nose and all….i can tell you that it was a horror going anywhere with them on campus because so many guys will stop them to talk to them and then me i’d be looking like an idiot. The society prefers light skinned girls and i can see the reason why people bleach…but is it everything the society believes in we would succumb to? At the end of the day it is the skin God gave you and you have to be comfortable in.Me i love my skin and i wouldn’t change it for anything.

  39. izi-e

    September 17, 2009 at 4:25 pm

    You guys are aware that more than 98% of white celebrities and even regular folks go through a lot to tone their skin to look bronzed, brown. As an M.D. I see the after effects- Skin CANCER!! I guess, pple always want to be someone else, but please, my black and dark skinned people, do not feel the need to bleach your skin, these white people wish they had our skin, to the point they are willing to risk having cancer over it, can you not see what it really is. That’s why when we get older we still look so good, white skin and bleached skin don’t age well at all… trust me. Evening your skin tone out because of blotched skin is understandable. In the end, it is about what makes you happy, I guess, people will always have something to say no matter what you do. But as you grow older, try to grow wiser and maybe someday you might see the reality of it all, and just be happy with your skin tones, hopefully you do not realize it too late when the damage to your skin has already happened. Then again, you may be someone else’s lesson of a bad example, God works in mysterious ways :). That’s my say….

  40. FirstIWantToDanceWithYouPere

    September 17, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    white people dont wish they have our skin..they wish to look bronzed and tanned you cant equate that to wanting our Black skin….

  41. sly ashi

    September 17, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    But i guess it is Okay for white poeple who were born naturally white as snow to seat all day in the sun to become Tanned” Are those white people who do lip injection to have full lips or inject thier butts to be like us seen as trying to be black? or is it a problem only when back people do it.but it is a problem when balck people want to improve thier skin tone? oh well !

  42. Kpakpando

    September 17, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    It might be dermatitis, you might want to go see a dermatologist; but a home remedy for softening the skin on your elbows is to cut a grapefruit in half and stick you elbows in. The acid from the fruit will help slough up the dry patches.

  43. Gezani

    September 18, 2009 at 8:53 am

    I am south african women in her 30’s. I’ve noticed many women in south african with the complexion which is not natural at all majority being foreigners. I cannot understand it. I once visited Ghana and I was impressed by the dark complexion clear skin. According to me there is nothing more beutiful than a natural complexion. Why do u want to be something you are not? do this people consider the risk from using this bleaches? If it is not your natural complexion, it shows because it does not look natural.

  44. wow!

    September 18, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    bella didn’t write this blog, duh!

  45. ngum

    September 18, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    “…improve their skin tone?” what a euphemism for something so horrid! two wrongs do not make a right, so i really don’t see how the tanning etc argument holds water.

  46. luvlife

    September 19, 2009 at 12:15 am

    Thank you Bored. People if you want to yawn and move on from this topic then please keep it moving…and start your own blog.

  47. luvlife

    September 19, 2009 at 12:23 am

    Dear Yawn,
    the fact that your aunt passed away from cancer of the skin is evidence of the importance of this topic. We simply cannot move on…
    Unlike you, many people do not understand the gravity of bleaching their skin, just like so many people still don’t understand the importance of protection/abstinence to prevent the spread of STDs.
    I hope you see why topics like this, and stories like that of your aunt are important to drive it home that bleaching is physiologically harmful, notwithstanding the psychosocial implications of insecurity……

  48. luvlife

    September 19, 2009 at 12:42 am

    Uhm Sly ashi,
    Both black and white suffer the consequence of their body enhancements when they go overboard (which is almost always the case since people don’t stop after the first try). This is why we have plastic surgeries gone bad (although one can make a case for poorly executed procedures)
    My point is the physical harm from these procedures will NOT DISCRIMINATE!! BAD IS BAD black, white or yellow……

  49. Edowa

    September 21, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    Ironic.All ye all blabbering here, part of what u say is true, but the desperate truth is that if you are not on the recieving end, then you truly do not know what it feels like to be singled out and judged simply because of having a darker skin tone.

  50. Yawn

    September 22, 2009 at 5:05 am

    I guess you right….but the the topic has been tackled so much and i dont think it is effective anymore.Maybe the topic should be treated solely from a medical perspective so people can see the harm in using chemicals to peel of skin layers…Most times the topic is often discussed in relation to light skin, black skin, beauty ,blah blah….that i think takes away the real focus and injects irrelevant discussions.

  51. minimee

    September 22, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    when i was about 16yrs old, went to a shop with my elder sis & the owner walked up to me &asked why i didn’t like taking care of my skin.
    You see,i was born very lightskined but with time,my face got darker while the rest of my body was still light.She suggested a particular toning cream which i later bought.I started looking lighter&fresher.Then i got into med school …During my dermatology posting i saw what i’d look like in 20yrs(or less) and was so scared that i stopped using the cream.3yrs after,my face is back to its usual color&my self esteem has improved.No body can talk me into using these creams again….their long term effects are horrible!

  52. Susan Johnson

    September 23, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    I live in America and I can asure you that most times the opposite is the case here, (at least with the regular, everyday, real people). I am an extremely dark skinned person and very proud of it. I stand out, and I’m cool with that. You don’t have to wonder if I’m mixed, or really who I say I am, and that is fine with me. Looking at me, you can see my ancestors to a thousand generations and know that they were Negros and Nubians, what more could one ask for. Believe me, if I was white, I’ll do all I can to get as tanned as possible, (unfortunately, the harder they try, the redder they get). I really do see getting tanned as trying to look better, but I don’t in any way see trying to get lighter as looking better. The person getting tanned does’nt want to look sickly or wan, but the person getting lighter does look sickly and scary, (for some funny reason, they don’t realize that). We are not even talking about the long term effects healthwise. It’s funny how the white man sees a jet black lady and thinks she’s gorgeous. The African Ameriacan sees her and thinks her skin is just perfect, yet the Nigerian sees her and thinks she needs to take care of herself and lighten up, is this then some kind of inferiority complex left over by the colonial masters?, (you know like Black men prefering or dying for white women?, well, that’s a topic for another day). Well to each his own.

  53. Fabulous

    September 25, 2009 at 9:50 am

    Truth be told Ladies, We all want our skin to glow and shine and blah blah blah, the biggest problem we have is not knowing what to use for our different types of skin and complexion, as a dark skinned and curvy diva with interesting stretch marks on my things and bum, I have been there and done that with all sorts of body creams, luckily I never reacted badly to anyone, eventually I tried an age old home remedy, trust me it stinks but nothing has ever improved my skin tone and texture as Shea butter. People now pay me compliments all time, and my stretch marks although not completely gone looks a whole lot better.
    The craze about looking lighter is as a result of very low self esteem and not loving urself enuf.

  54. Darkie

    September 25, 2009 at 10:39 am

    I used a cream once to remove spots and marks on my skin, which had the adverse (lol) effect of making me, a dark skinned lady, lighter. I had no idea of this when a friend recommended the cream but i did notice that i definitely got more attention from the brothers including the man in my life at that time who actually said he liked my new look. Needless to say i dumped him and the cream quick-fast and in a hurry but it really strengthened my self esteem and security. I like me!

    Dark complexion and all.

  55. zee

    September 30, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    In my own case, my skin is just naturally multi-coloured. I’ve got about 3 or 4 different shades. My face, chest, thighs and legs are naturally light, while my arms, back and stomach are dark, and this variation is really visible. I noticed this at age 17 I think and ever since I’ve been using different toning creams to try and even out my very obviously uneven complexion. Please just don’t judge people like that. Agreed some people tone their skins out of vanity, others like me are just trying to look normal and to avoid being compared to a Flag

  56. Idara

    September 30, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    I study in Romania & over here, I can’t count the number of times I’ve had some girl tell me she wishes she was Black. Tanning products (sprays, oils, creams, salons) are in huge demand. The girls eventually end up looking ‘burnt’, some even look Black themselves! In addition to tanning themselves, they dye their hair & eyebrows black. American culture is influencing alot of the Romanian lifestyle, esp hip hop, so the teenage girls now want to have large butts that can giggle (lol). I’m light-skinned & mostly get mistaken for a mullato, so the guys here don’t take much interest, they want the ‘Black’ girls.

    Think of Gabrielle Union, Missy, & other popular Black sisters that are successful.

  57. Omozele

    October 2, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    In my opinion, it takes some maturity to actually be comfortable in your own skin. I am super dark and I love every inch of my skin and pamper it to the fullest. The media doesnt help this situation and I can say this has been an issue for dark skin people since the time of slavery when foreigners potrayed their “white” or pale skinned women with long blonde silky hair as the ‘Ideal’ woman and our dark skin as being ‘dirty’ hence the need to scurb until we bleed. I watched an episode of the tyra show a few months back and wept bitterly at the dark skinned woman who used bleach to bathe her boys because they were to dark (insert all the curses you want here). Looking at it however, it is ignorance, I dont blame her there is a lot of bias towards dark skinned women ” I didnt get promoted ‘cos i was not light enough” etc. I had my old boss ask me why I always tanned and that the company was not in good light each time a ‘big shot’ client walked into a meeting with just me! I begged his pardon and told him I am Nigerian and I am dark skin and I cant help that I am dark skinned. Ignorance! Like Fela said – Oyibo man build western civilization on ignorance!

    Please dont use bleaching creams, they stink and are soo not good for your skin. Moving on…

  58. annonymous

    October 6, 2009 at 12:16 am

    maybe you should try using a different cream than what you are currently using…it would stop lightening other areas of your body and you can get your complexion back

  59. barbs

    October 6, 2009 at 8:54 am

    i understand all you guys have said and i totally agree.
    however, there are some cases where it is not all true, like my case. i am naturally a light skinned person but over the years i have lived complacently wit no care for my skin or my face and now im dark and my skin has patches. the parts of my body that are always covered are fair but the parts of my body that are frequently exposed are dark and these include my arms (iw went for youth service in the north and wore a lot of sleeveless tops cos of the heat, my face, my neck and my feet. my mom recently bought a creme for me which is mixed, i used it and im gaining my natural complexion back gradually. it is not meant to change my skin but make it the natural look again.
    in this case will you say that it is the same as the light skin craze that is gg on? i dont think so. it is only when im going from my natural skin tone which is a light brown (carton colour) to a cream colour that there is room for saying that i am trying to change my look. my skin was so bad, that my face, hands and neck were different shades.

    in this case i know there are exceptions to the rule. i think we should make room for those exceptions and try to assist people with those exceptions. i am proud of my skin now and people dont ask why i have different skin shades anymore.

  60. Ify

    October 7, 2009 at 6:43 am

    I am a very dark skinned sistah and I never felt like I had to bleach for anybody! My dark skin seperates me from the park and I believe I look damn good and I feel I’ve always been noticed. Yeah, some people may wanna make you feel bad but it really does come down to how you view yourself. I think, scratch that–I know I’m beautiful and black is indeed beautiful! Don’t get me wrong, you still have to take care of your skin–I wash my face at night–most nights anyway, and moisturize too.

  61. Ifeoma

    October 20, 2009 at 8:06 am

    It’s gud to see that quite a number of people on here are proud to be who are they, proud of the skin they’ve got. Way to go guys!… or is it

  62. tayo

    November 5, 2009 at 2:01 am

    Im a very dark skinned and infact the only dark one in my family. I used to get compared to my sister a lot and was often called ugly. I currently live in the US and you can imagine the discrimination we darkskinned girls go through over here.My best friend over here is of lighter complexion and when we go out together nobody even wants to know who I am.The thought of bleaching has definately crossed my mind but then again I would only be allowing myself to be defeated by the comments of other people. A lot of young Nigerian girls in their teens are taking this complexion issue too far.How can we allowthe society have a great impact in ourlives. The fact that lighter people abroad like Beyonce are appreciated goes back to the issue of slave trade. The lighter skinned then were the daughters of the white master whom impregnated a black slave. I see a lot of our very own Nollywood actresses are guilty of this obsession as well, after a while they start using bleach to appeal to their audience. Nevertheless we have dark beautiful actresses like Genevieve, stephanie okereke and mercy johnson that are still representing for us dark skinned girls.
    I am a dark Nigerian girl,not american, and I’m proud to be dark.Anybody that doesnt like me for who I am is not a true freind or boyfriend ,however the case may be.The same way the black people had to fight for equal rights with the white is the same way dark skinned celebrities have to fight to be as famous and as successful as they need to be. Nowadays we see a lot of talentless people making soo much money because of their complexion and the dark ones with talent e.g Kelly Rowland and our very own Oluchi Onweagba are barely even talked about.We need to love ourselves and let people know that dark is lovely. We are true Africans and being dark is definately part of our culture.This issue needs to be further emphasized for public awareness.

  63. riri

    November 8, 2009 at 6:55 am

    I’m just not saying this, just to say it, dark skinned women are beautiful, like gorgeous. Truth is, skin complexion shouldn’t define a woman’s beauty at all, because it has nothing to do with it. Unfortunately, we live in a society where lighter skin is praised, which started with the white folks. People just want to identify themselves with been light, because subconsciously, been light looks like the ideal beauty. It’s good to see that some people are not affected by this bunch of nonsense. What about we focus on inner beauty, doesn’t matter what complexion you are, what type of hair, eyes, but your inner beauty is what should define you, as an individual.

    I have a friend who’s beautiful, like natural beauty. She doesn’t know this, but I wish I have her skin so bad, it’s clear, smooth, and radiant. Sometimes, when you are light, and you breakout, everything is just out, and then you try to use makeup to cover it up, then you look like a clown, maybe not all, but I do. She said, her aunt told her it will be hard for her to find a man because of her complexion. Are you kidding me?

    All I know is, when we attended an event together last time, I spotted out this cute guy, and I really thought he was checking me out, only to find out, he was checking my friend out, because he even came up to her. Mind you, that’s not the first time. So, I don’t know what her aunt is talking about.

    I personally think tanning your skin is completely different from bleaching your skin, the only similarity is that both have dangerous side effects, so I don’t compare the two at all.

  64. nkemjou

    November 22, 2009 at 2:11 am

    hehe i’m dark skinned not too dark but normal dark, in my teens and i have dark knuckles, not kidding. i have never used any “bleaching cream”. i practically use neutrogena oil. so i guess not all dark knuckles come from bleaching????


    December 11, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    I am dark skinned, from a family where there are predominantly dark skinned people and the thought of bleaching has never crossed my mind. God forbid I should even think of doing such a thing! I mean, I have seen people even relatives who have done this and in my heart I just laugh at them because they look worse! The shade they have becomes wrong, they end up with black blemishes on their faces and when they break out in spots, oh dear!!
    The thing that people forget about bleaching is that once you start, you have to continue till the day you die. If you happent to stop, you become even darker than when you started!
    To me the palava is too much and the gain is little!
    There is nothing I love more than my complexion! It really brings out my features and my face is so clear and when I wear bright colours, I so stand out!
    What more could I want?!

  66. Kitara

    December 24, 2009 at 3:28 am

    I’d hate to think that a beautiful woman would find herself moreso beautiful if she had lighter skin. To be honest, I am of mixed race (Dutch and Bajan); I’ve been told I would have been prettier had I had my mother’s hazel eyes and lighter skin. Why is being of lighter skin equated with being more beautiful? My mother is beautiful and it’s not because she is white, it’s because she’s the strongest woman I know. I’m proud of my roots and my complexion. Confidence should radiate regardless of a person’s complexion. I sincerely hope that all people find strength in what they have, and not what people deem would make them better. Just my two cents for what they’re worth…

  67. nina

    December 25, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    naturally am very light skinned dat sumtymes i aruge or get offended when ppl say one of ma parents are nt tellin dey truth cause am obviously mixed race. cuzins even ask me wht cream i use because dey fink i bleach bt den i dnt i use(dove). seriously people need to feeel comfortable with dere skin colour , cause everyone has dere colour for a reason :).x

  68. pkmelody

    January 8, 2010 at 6:49 am

    People who base their self worth on the color of their skin, need a head check. Those people are what you call mental slaves. They have a mental illness. Love who you are because we are all beautiful!!!!

  69. oma

    January 30, 2010 at 12:14 am

    ma hola evry1. am dark skind bt nt blck, i’d cal it brown. am bein specifik cos i jus LUV my skin color…mhn! i do, alot. bt i have a problm it kips goin in and out of range, mostymz i fink its d product am using and so i change. but it’l only be a while till it starts again. i jus need it 2 steady on u knw; it hurts. i’d luv sugestns if any1 has any.. and complexn has lil or nothin 2 do wif beauty..its a thin of d heart BTW.. u guyz ROCK!

    • Candibelle

      June 17, 2012 at 12:37 am


  70. Black beauty

    February 6, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    After reading this article and the comments that followed, I am even more proud of my dark skin. The thought of bleaching has never crossed my mind, even though I sometimes admire the light skinned people. I have a very dark, and I have a few people that call me charcoal( I don’t think I’m as black), but people often always tell me I am a black beauty. I f a boy doesn’t like you just because you are dark skinned, screw him. There are other guys; white, fairly dark, and even dark skinned ones like you that will give anything to get you. But as Tayo said, DON”T LET THE COMMENTS OF OTHER PEOPLE OVERCOME YOU

  71. Femiluv

    March 6, 2010 at 9:20 am

    Tell me about it…I’m dark skinned, not too dark, a little bit darker than the woman on the left on that picture. Winter makes my skin lighter which I hate, I mean who wouldn’t love darker skin tones, our skin has a supernatural ability to conceal blemishes like no other lol.

  72. La belle camerounaise

    March 16, 2010 at 9:57 am

    I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the naked body of a naturally light skinned woman. It is as if you are in the presence of an angel. It is so purely beautiful. I speak of experience, having been surounded my entire life by aunts, uncles, sisters, and brothers, that were blessed with that enchanting skin tone. That is not to count their multiple other charms such as shades of light brown to greenish eyes, pink lips, narrow and straighter noses, and tallness. (we are 100% cameroonians, 100% bamilekes, people that rarely mixed with other tribes, so I doubt the looks could come from some european genes.)

    To diverge from your comments and this entire article, dark skin has nothing admirable. As a black female, you will have to be extremely beautiful to be able to stand out, the darker you are; when you only need to be extremely unnapealing to “not stand out” the lighter skin you are.

    Sorry to offend you guys but being light skin is so beautiful. I feel so bad for those of you who are trying so hard to tell themselves that it is not, but it is a fact. Live with it and stop lying to yourselves. On top of that dark skin is too thick and rough. Only bleaching products are strong enough to soften and smooth it.

    I wish I could naturally be like my mom, my sisters, or my aunts everyday, without having to work so hard at it. But I had to take some of the dark skin of my father.

    I am not ashamed to say that I bleach my skin, I avoid the sun, and it works wonders. Thankfully I was born medium light, so that I barely have uneven skin tone, after bleaching.

    So bleaching ladies out, there do not let yourselves be intimidated by all these dellusional fools. Lightness is beauty.

  73. ade

    March 21, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    Two words for you, Self Esteem

  74. aminatu

    April 13, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Being light or dark has nothing to do with beauty. I have seen black women who are light skin and some look like a mess. The reason why light skin is desired in the black race is because majority of black are not light skin. Most blacks are darker skin and that is nothing to be a shame about. Most of beautiful women i see are darker skin to me. Black women are beautiful…..I am black and beautiful….

  75. Acquarius

    May 10, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    They say too much of anything is a bad thing. And this goes for the complexion too.

    So whether its too many blemishes or darkspots, a complexion thats too dark or too light or skin thats too hard or too soft or too dry, too much is simply not good. If you are a woman who cares about her appearance and you have any of these sking related issues naturally you should want to improve on things.

    Personally, I think its okay to lighten or darken your skin a lil’, especially as a means of improving things because it does help. In much the same way, its okay to wear weave-on and diet. But it is important to appreciate the fact that there is a thin line, and you need to know what the threshold is and stear clear of it because if you cross it you could seriously jeopardise your health. If you over/ under eat for instance, you could die, if you relax your hair too often or not often enough it will start breaking. Like I said too much of anything is a bad thing.

    So if you decide to use a product to enhance your skin colour of texture, it important to make sure that whatever you use on your skin it safe and that you use it as directed by the makers.

    Many people dont know this, but alot of the information on some of the ingredients in the cosmetics we use are still yet to be confirmed. Also almost every cosmetic out there has ingredients that have been identified as having the potential to lead to cancer. Even Vaseline products.

  76. Anjola Williams

    May 19, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    The fact that you dark skinned girls keep bringing the issue up time andtime again just provestaht you are trying to prove something to yourselves….not to anyone else! You cant even admit that there are beautifuldrodead gorgeous light skinned women and white women too,iin fact. This says a lot.Iam a beutiful golden coffee complexion,people tellme I am very beautiful and have skin that looks like it lights up from within…..the eye is naturally drawn to light! I love my complexion but also accept that my cousins very black skin is pretty too, especially because she has a wonderful figure and exquisite features too.

  77. DrealMimi

    May 19, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    This is obviously an issue that can never go away, I am a dark skinned black girl(more of a caramel color) and I know I am very pretty because white, black and even asian men like and want to go out with me, even younger boys.But do I feel insecure about my skin tone? YES!, I love my skin tone, but I sometimes wish I was lighter, yes black is beautiful but the light skinned girls have it easier in life. I dont hv it tough, but I once walked into a room and they guys were lookn at me n it felt good, a few seconds later a light skinned girl who is not half as pretty as me walked in and there was an obvious change in focus. I am just pointing out that people are more drawn to d lighter skin tone, even tho I will never bleach bcos I love my color, but if I had to choose I will def choose to be light skinned. As I always say “Its very hard for girls like me bcos,Its tough enough to be a woman, not just that but a black woman, not just that but a dark skinned black woman. Its like we r d bottom feeders, our personalities and other stuff ie, boobs, ass, figure hv to mk up for the fact that we r dark cos a light skinned girl just need to b light n she’s a favorite. I’m jst saying it as it is. Truth hurts.

  78. Ebby

    May 20, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    “Do we blame the media following the age old logic that ‘white’ has been pushed in our faces as the perfect standard of beauty? Or are we looking at a deeper self-esteem issues?” I blame the GLOBAL system of racism-white supremacy for the inferiority complexes that black people ( Africans) and even all brown -non-white people around the globe have with their beautiful, absolutely perfect shades of brown skin.

    It is a GLOBAL system that tells all of us that “black is whack” and “white is right”. Unfortunately because of slavery & colonialism, non-white people have been dominated by this sick disease called white supremacy, where having a LACK of melanin in your skin, which is a genetic abnormality, gets you access to unearned privileges. So falling into the white supremacy/ black inferiority complex, we burn our hair out, destroy our skin with those stupid cremes, hoping for better treatment, abusing our bodies and minds, hopelessly attempting to obtain some sort of white benefits. It needs to STOP!

  79. Ebby

    May 20, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    I see this black inferiority crap in the United States, The Caribbean and everywhere the black people or brown people or yellow people have had the unfortunate chance of ever colliding with white people. They are the minority, we are the majority. We came first, not them. Our genes are dominant.

    Let’s get rid of the inferior mindset and replace the system of racism-white supremacy, with a system of justice!

  80. beebola

    May 25, 2010 at 10:33 pm

    God bless d writer of ths article……..m dark n recently ppl hv been hvn issues sayin dt m 2dark n i shd use sme creams 2lighten up……..i wz evn getn cncernd bt i feel tons betr nw……

  81. Nj

    October 5, 2013 at 6:57 am

    This post has said it all! Beautiful!

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