Nigerian Singer Releases ‘Whitenicious’ Skin Lightening Cream and It’s Sold Out
Nigerian-Cameroonian pop musician Dencia is quickly becoming the talk of social media networks and Nigerian blogs with the release of her “skin care” line Whitenicious.
Whitenicious promises to help users rid themselves of pesky dark spots
by gradually lightening the hyper-pigmented areas of their skin.
However, from the looks of Dencia’s own skin, she’s been using it (or
something more powerful) to transform her complexion from deep mahogany
to vampire white.
According to its website, Whitenicious (priced between $50-$150) is a
“fast acting, 7 day dark spot remover” that is “a moisturizing cream
enriched with powerful natural ingredients that will nourish your skin
and lighten dark knuckles, knees and elbows.” Some Nigerian beauty blogs
display before and after photos of Whitenicious users showing their once luminous dark skin transformed to milky white.
Dencia’s dramatic transformation.
“Skin toning,” as it’s called in Nigeria, is big business. According to the World Health Organization, nearly 77-percent of Nigerian women,
the highest percentage in the world, use skin-lightening products on a
regular basis. While some lighten their skin to adhere to a Western
standard of beauty, many women bleach their skin because it affords them
better marriage prospects and a greater chance at social mobility.
Friend and Nigerian-American rapper Kingsley “Rukus” Okafor explains the obsession:
“It’s hard to understand until you’ve been in the streets of an African nation,” he wrote in a comment on my Facebook page.
“There’s a different treatment and desirability factor in Africa for
lighter skinned women, well beyond what we experience in the US. It’s an
epidemic. You can’t walk a day in the streets of Lagos without seeing
someone who has/is bleached. The possible benefits (more respect,
increased desirability to men) outweigh the consequences, especially in a
male-dominated society where women’s “independence” is frowned upon.
Finding a well-to-do husband/sugar daddy is a priority and women are
willing to do what they have to, to fit standards of beauty. The
euphemism is “skin-toning” and although “bleaching” is banned,
skin-toning is a huge money-maker that I’m sure has lined the pockets of
enough politicians to allow it to keep being sold despite international
Nigerian musician Femi Kuti, son of legendary artist Fela Kuti, says
many bleach their skin because they praise Western cultures and
products, while dismissing their own.
He told Al Jazeera:
“An African will prefer to be called John-Philip. If you said your name
was Chukwu Emeka Afongkudong they will say you are from the village.
You are backward. How can you have such a name? We really look down on
our culture and heritage instead of being proud of it.”
Skin-bleaching has terrible consequences. Skin burns, rashes, and
permanent abrasions are commonplace. Moreover many creams contain toxic levels of mercury,
and some include agents that may cause leukemia, and cancer of the
liver and kidneys. Despite this, skin-bleaching has become a
multibillion-dollar business around the world.
Although the practice is rampant in Africa, the industry’s popularity
extends far beyond the continent. Nearly 61-percent of skin care
products in India contain bleaching agents, and 40-percent of women in China, Malaysia, the Philippines, and the Republic of Korea admit to bleaching.
For her efforts Dencia has been inundated with criticism (and praise)
about her skin-toning line via Twitter, but she isn’t fazed. Along with
re-tweeting links to mentions of her product, she’s been taking on
critics who deride her for promoting and capitalizing on self-hate.
h/t Dr. Yaba Blay