Emeh Achanga: A world where light-skinned ladies rule (Y! Superblogger)

Men have been fine-tuned to believe a light complexion woman is more attractive or beautiful…

I received a Blackberry broadcast and it read “Limited vacancies in a reputable communication firm for beautiful ladies between 20 -26, a degree in any arts discipline, fluent, tall, MUST be light-skinned.”


When did skin color become a per-requisite for employment?

This craze for a light complexion has left many women looking like bleached whales just so they could measure up. Funny enough, they do get the attention they crave even at the risk of cancer and its likes. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the World Health Organization revealed Nigeria has the highest users of skin bleaching products in the world – nearly three-quarters of all Nigerian women?

I was a victim of this craze to be light-skinned. It wasn’t intentional; it was a means to an end.

I had been told severally that I had the face of a model (I see you double checking my picture. 🙂

My agent made me take a new set of photos which he would submit to agencies. When I saw the photos, it wasn’t me.

Author photoshopped

I had been photoshopped into a white girl. I complained about it and he shrugged it off and said he wanted my photos to catch their attention. He also said if they liked my photos, I’ll be invited for castings.

True to his word, I was invited for many but never heard from them again. I went from one casting to another, hoping to clinch a billboard deal to no avail.

When I had lost hope, my agent called me and said, “Emeh, you are very beautiful but the problem is they call you for castings based on your pictures. When they eventually get to meet you, they find out you are darker and in this industry, the lighter you are, the better for you.”

I was stunned. I now had a reasonable explanation for the rejection. So, I did what 77% of Nigerian ladies do – I decided to lighten my skin.

Fast forward to 2 weeks later, I got my first job as a ‘waka-pass’ in a TV commercial. And then he said, “I like what you’ve done with your face, you could tone it a little more and be perfect.”

A couple of days later and different mixtures in my palm, I looked in the mirror and asked myself, “What’s wrong with being black and beautiful?”

At that moment, I discarded the idea of bleaching and gave up my modeling dreams.

But the scar remained because it isn’t restricted to the modeling world. Men have been fine-tuned to believe a light complexion woman is more attractive or beautiful, music videos and movies flash painfully light-skinned women in our faces; bosses believe having a light skinned complexion woman in your organization means more patronage.

A while back, renowned rapper, Lil Wayne, showed his preference for light-skinned ladies when he said,

“Beautiful black woman, I bet that b-tch look better red.” “…my daughter is the first and last dark skin child I’m having. The rest of my baby moms [are] light-skinned chicks. I even got an Asian baby moms to make sure I have a daughter with good hair. Too bad we had a son.”

Neyo came under fire for saying: “All the prettiest kids are light-skinned anyway.”

Tyrese (on not having Black women in his video)

“I welcomed all women and went with the best…. I don’t do favors.”

But have we really sat down to think of the implication of this on our future generation? I mean, will our great grandchildren even know what being black really means? Why don’t we leave the white skin to those who really are white and those who are naturally light-skinned?

This is not a personal vendetta against naturally light-skinned African girls, I’m not exactly “dark-skinned”, but I have a problem with our society pushing across the message that, being dark-skinned makes you less beautiful.

Skin-bleaching is a cancer eating deep into the very fabrics of our societal values and what we represent. There is beauty in diversity.

Africans rock. Let’s be black and proud.


Emeh Achanga is a lawyer, journalist, blogger and writer. She blogs at www.misspetitenigeria.blogspot.com. She believes in the power to change the world by penning down her thoughts and sharing her experiences with others. Follow her on twitter @misspetitenaija.


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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Comments (16)

  1. I'm BBB. Black, Bold and Beautiful and I'm proud of it. They ever take and accepted me as I am or have nothing at all. Emeh I'm proud of you. Really wish I could hug u now.

  2. When you have been shown that being a different colour will help .. you yourself will start thinking it is right to change your colour, it's called indoctrination. Come and see them in Lagos .. everyone is yellow. I wanted to be yellow too at one point .. only that I know that if I peel my skin the sun will show me pepper and I like being out in the sun. 🙂

  3. Nice1 Emeh,I'm proud of you

  4. Nice article but we cant ignore the fact that bleaching is a psychological thing.Its also caused by insecurity.If a lady is confident about her looks,not even a job or career can make her think otherwise.

    I did bleach before and when I realized, i was doing myself more harm than good,i stopped.I dont regret it

  5. African rocks, let's be black and beautiful! Good words but are the girls ready to remain black when most organizations don't even want dark skinned girls? There's a great degeneration in our culture!

  6. We complain about whites and then jump into bed with them trying to emulate them! Respect starts at home and nothing in the world should want us to change to be 'fake' images of someone else! "I'll say it loud I'm black and I'm proud!"

  7. lol after al the bleaching you got a waka pass role?Cant stop laughing.Nice article.I'll have chocolate over milk anyday any time.Btw,you're very pretty(i double checked)

  8. That your photo shopped pic is murderous.lol.If im an agency,i'll sue you for misrepresentation.lol.its a really sad thing.Ladies today putting their lives at risk just because they want to meet up with society's expectations.The lighter the better.hmmn sad

  9. Im so happy to read this article.Skin bleaching is a really disturbing occurrence in Nigeria and the perception of pple towards darker girls aint helping.

    There are only a few Genevieve's Annie Macaulay's who have decided to stick to their original skin color.

    To be in a nollywood movie,if you aint as bleached as the sun,u wont be given a second glance.

    Kudos to the writer

  10. We are our biggest enemies. The trend has gotten worse.. Our society is the culprit " light skinned ladies apply " ? Outrageous.

    1. You are absolutely correct. We are our own worst enemies. If having one arm was more fashionable should we then cut one off? What sheep we are!!'

    2. So sad its hard to believe people think like this. All black women whatever shade are beautiful

    3. Why are most African women either toning or bleaching if they believe confidently that black women are beautiful?

cool good eh love2 cute confused notgood numb disgusting fail