The term, ‘Yellow Bone,’ has steadfastly established itself in today’s culture and has made its way to lyrics in songs and society in general. According to the website; Companies and Markets, the global skin lighteners market has been forecast to reach a value of US$19.8 billion by 2018, driven by the growing desire for light-coloured skin among both men and women primarily from the Asian, African and Middle East regions.
On the other ignored corner comes the increase in the number of insecure dark-skinned girls who feel inefficient being darker. This girl child has to live with the fact that the boys don’t look at her as much as they do her lighter-skinned friends, she lives in a society that has subtle ‘colourism’. This is a phenomenon probably worse than racism as it involves being shunned by your own. It is a phenomenon that’s disguised by the few messages preached that Black is Beautiful. In a documentary called Dark Child that I recently watched, one of the commentators said that no matter how much is preached about black being beautiful, the battle cannot be won because we live in a society that’s consistently saying that black is ugly and white is perfect.
I recently had a conversation with one of the darkest girls in our society. She wears heavy make-up and she’s constantly talking about how beautiful she is and how much of a lekgarebe she is. But she opened up her heart to me and told me that while in school some of the other children used to laugh at her about how dark she is.
She said that it got to a point where she hated herself. I was still in my earliest years of primary school and wondered if I’d be lighter if I were to bleach myself or scrub myself hard enough. But, somehow in those early years I shrugged it off and told myself that my skin colour was okay. I snapped out of it. But I’ve learnt that sometimes it’s difficult to snap out of some things that happen in our lives. Some girls do not just snap out of hating being black. This was evident in the conversation I had with the ‘dark child.’ Though she is managing and walking with her head held high, I cannot help but wonder why she emphasises on how beautiful she is.
Would she talk about it constantly if she was really secure with her looks? The conversation with the dark child was joined by another one of the dark children of Botswana. She said that she was told she was ugly so many times while growing up that she stopped looking at herself in the mirror. She has since made peace with the mirror and in her adult life she is a friend of the mirror after having accepted her looks. Then there are the girls who were in the documentary who are still struggling with the colour of their skin especially since they are living in America; a country that has a media industry that fuels this pandemic while at the same time claiming ignorance.
One of the women said that though she dates white men who don’t care about her outward appearance, at the end of the day she still wants to be with a black man. She basically wants to be validated by her own. Another woman said that she has only been highly praised for her ebony skin as beautiful by white people, while black people were always emphasising how too black she is. In the same documentary it was shown that the pandemic was global when an Asian American woman was asked if her child’s father is black. She had visited her home-country for the first time with her 4-year child who had been tanned by the Hollywood sun.