Best-selling author, multimedia personality and actor, Toke Makinwa recently took a foray into the beauty industry as she launched Glow By TM, “a line of luxury organic skincare products made in America.” What immediately caught our attention was the use of the triggering term “whitening” on two out of the five released products.
Discussions revolving around colourism and issues centered on light skin privileges, black profiling and racial discrimination in the judicial system have been increasingly heated globally. Colourism has long found its way into the beauty industry with many cosmetic brands offering a line of skin whitening products, popularly known as “bleaching cream.”
When Cameroonian artiste Dencia launched “whitenicious” in 2014, it quickly became the beauty industry’s most polarizing product as many were stunned that skin “whitening” was again being boldly promoted and this time by a young African woman. The same emotions are being awakened by Toke Makinwa‘s whitening body lotion and whitening & firming serum.
It begs several questions like:
- Is Toke Makinwa inadvertently or maybe advertently enforcing the age-old beauty standards of colourism?
- Why again does it seem like dark skin is a disease that needs to be fixed?
- What message is this passing on to easily impressionable Nigerian youths, a good measure of whom are following Toke on social media and are dark skinned?
If we are 100% honest here, the audience for these products are people with naturally dark skin who are being prompted to ‘fix it’ in order to fit in with the falsely concocted ideal of beauty which is knee-deep in colourism and an anti-dark skin rhetoric that has long ceased to be entertaining.
One would think that in a country like Nigeria – the most populous black country in the world – where most of the inhabitants are dark-skinned, colourism wouldn’t be an issue, but sadly it still is. Unfortunately, even among Nigerians (not all, of course), being light-skinned is almost always equated to being pretty while being dark-skinned comes second place on the appalling scale of beauty. This notion is subtly enforced by beauty adverts which often feature a model in the before picture looking significantly darker and looking lighter and “prettier” in the after photos.
Sadly, some of our celebrities and fashion/beauty influencers also subscribe to this idea of beauty as they tend to lighten up their skin a few shades over time. Toke Makinwa herself has owned up to her successful attempts at lightening her skin; so, it’s safe to say that this is her way of giving back to the community.
Photo credit: IG | tokemakinwa
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