I Was Black Till The Media Made Me White
Skin bleaching has been an issue of concern in recent times. This practice has become the talk of many radio and TV stations in Ghana. This unwholesome practice which spits on the pride of the black community is on its peak. It has become more worrisome and dangerous since it has now been extended to unborn babies. Baby bleaching is now common among pregnant women in Ghana. Who is to be blamed? Do we blame the gods of Africa for this disdainful act or that little girl or woman who lives at the mercy of the media for something classy? Believe me, the gods have no hand in this. Our elders do say that water does not ripple without an insect.
In Ghana and in most African countries, most women and even men see that the ideal skin portrayed in the media is the fair skin tones. There is a multiplicity of reasons responsible for this culture of skin bleaching in Ghana. More importantly, the media has constantly portrayed ‘whiteness or lightness’ as what is classy, adorable, alluring, and pure.
Many young women in Ghana struggle with self-esteem. They have developed the erroneous impression that their maker made a mistake when deciding their skin colour and the texture of their hair. They simply can’t come to terms with their dark features, black short hair, full lips and wide beautiful nose. To the average Ghanaian, they have to change how they look in order to be loved. It has therefore become a daily struggle for the young dark girl in Ghana to believe that she is beautiful while living in a white-washed society. We project whiteness over darkness through the media. The scarcity of international dark models on our own TV networks as Africans attests to this fact.
Our preconditioned notion of what it even means to have “bad hair” and “good hair” as a lady as seen in the media leaves our women with no option but to abandon their African genuineness and embrace the long soft hair of the white. The way black beauty is discussed, dissected, examined and scrutinized is enough to compel anyone to abandon his colour as a Blackman.
The masses constantly see and hear the advertisement of various bleaching cosmetics which show that it is a crime to have dark skin even in our own country as Ghanaians. Times without number, the media has created the cultural perception that certain texture of hair is better than the others. But it is high time we realized that the hair texture we are born with is unique, genuine and special. This sometimes makes some of us to think that the Ghanaian media is never in control of her own affairs.
The advertisement of most of these bleaching cosmetics has flooded our media in Ghana. Through these numerous adverts, the African woman is made to believe that her hair as an African does not grow naturally to be long because they are too coarse. The African woman is made to believe that her nose is too wide and that it should have been pointed or slightly elongated, her lips are too wide and her skin is too dark and therefore needs extra care and attention.
The black woman, per what she has seen and heard through the media, spends precious hours looking through the mirror and she can only imagine how beautiful she would have been if her lips were not that wide and if her hair grew a little longer with a glowing light skin to complement these perceived stunning features.
After spending hours watching the television and surfing the internet, the young black girl or woman now embraces the fact that something is inherently wrong with her complexion as a dark woman. The African community and the media should take charge of what they project to the people as a definition of “beauty”. It is high time we took control of our own media. The media should step up in this game. The media shouldn’t only tell us how people are bleaching the skin in Ghana. They should rather tell us why dark skin should be admired. Give them a reason to believe in the Black race. Black girls should be encouraged to be their best selves through the media. Black is beautiful. Forever shall we remain black. To be dark is to be unique and exceptional.
The writer, Effah Elvis is a student of UCC. Email : [email protected]