I had always wanted to write on this topic but I never really had the time nor was I able to come up with the right angle with which to approach this sensitive issue of skin tones and relative preferences. But two things, no three things prompted this final draft. One: The song “Shades” by American-Nigerian rapper Wale featuring Chrisette Michelle. Two: a YouTube video which was essentially a documentary on the topic; and three: Miss Glory Edozien’s constant hounding of me to write something for Bella Naija.
The issue here is the perceived preference of light skinned/toned or as we refer to them here inNigeria“fair” women to dark skinned women. Now I know this is an issue that has been reharshed by many BellaNaija.com readers, however, I don’t think a males opinion has actually been sought on this issue. So permit me to offer mine.
There seems to be a general perceived notion that black men prefer fair women. But it had never really been such a serious issue to me until I stumbled across the said YouTube video which showcased a number of dark skinned African American women who felt marginalised due to their dark skin tones. According to these women, they had had challenges dating and getting into serious relationships because they were dark, black women! Some had never been in serious relationships and some had been left for other fairer African American women. One woman in particular said that all the while she thought that she was in a serious relationship her “boyfriend” was just using her as a booty call. The said guy eventually got married to another lady who was shades lighter than she was. The clip went on to show a woman who admitted to administering skin tone lightening creams and lotions on her young daughter in order to make her skin lighter! Another woman shed tears when she recounted how her mother came to see her new born grand-daughter in the hospital and kept on thanking God that she was light skinned and not dark like her daughter!
I watched, in utter amazement, the level of confidence issues these women faced all because they were dark skinned. But my over-analytical and cynical mind couldn’t help but take a second look these women. I realised that they mostly had one thing in common: they didn’t look as if they put in any effort to look good! It seemed to me that they were blaming their lack of male companionship on their complexion when what they really ought to be doing was putting in a bit more effort into looking good.
At this point I had to do some self-analysis. I put myself out there and asked myself a question, “Do I as a black Nigerian man, have a skin tone/shade preference when it comes to women?” Truth is I had always thought I had a preference for chocolate skinned women; you know that brown sugar complexion, kinda like a Sanaa Lathan. Yes, the fairest girl I dated was that bit of golden-sunshine-yellow-honey-brown shade. But just to be sure I sat down and quickly ran through the women I had dated to see if that was a recurring feature. Guess what? It wasn’t. I had dated fair girls, brown skinned girls, and dark skinned girls too. I then understood that sometimes what is preferred is not always a sine qua non.
To be sure that I was not “flaky”, I decided to do a small survey among my friends to test this theory. I asked 12 single Nigerian men, between the ages of 25 and 35, (bankers, sports marketers, entrepreneurs and real estate practitioners), their skin tone preferences, and whether it had any bearing on their choice of a girlfriend or partner.
My findings were as follows:
- 6 said light skinned women were better looking/more attractive than dark skinned women; while 2 said dark skinned women were better looking/more attractive;
- 4 said they couldn’t say/it did not matter to them. However, 11 said that complexion was not a prerequisite for them in choosing a girlfriend!
- Furthermore, 4 said that the decider on the choice of girlfriend was the woman’s personality or the “entire package”; 1 cited his feelings for the said girl; and another said “as long as she’s pretty”.
- I probed further and found out that out of the two that said dark skinned women were better looking/more attractive, one of them was dating a dark skinned girl, and the other was dating a light skinned girl. Why? Because of “his feelings for her”.
- Out of the 6 that said light skinned women were better looking/more attractive, only 3 had girlfriends, and they were all chocolate to fair skinned.
- Of the 4 who couldn’t say, none is currently dating anyone.
- Of the twelve, a guy that couldn’t say and a guy that said light skinned women were better looking/more attractive concluded by saying “dark skinned girls are better looking, while fair skinned girls were more attractive.”
- One complicated things further by saying that if forced to choose, he would “take an average light skinned girl over an average dark skinned girl but will take a very beautiful dark skinned girl over a very beautiful light skinned girl!” Wahala dey o!
Well I don’t know how you would analyse my mini-survey above, but personally (and I say this with some degree of conviction) I think that many Nigerian men really do not have cast iron preferences when it comes to the colour tones or shades of their women. I want to believe that they look for higher ideals in a woman, beyond her position on the black-fair shade spectrum. Thus, the summary of this survey should hopefully suggest to all women, that skin tone isn’t something most guys are necessarily preoccupied with, and perhaps they should do the same.
Photo Credit: http://uptownandreabrown