*”Kenyan men like women with whiter skin,” is the reason one woman explains for the growing popularity of skin lightening in her country.
While skin lightening remains a controversial subject, its popularity has not decreased in countries all over the world. Actors, models, and “ordinary people” continue to plop down what can amount to several month’s rent or mortgage to milk their skin in an effort to become someone else’s version of beautiful.
The fact that this has become increasing popular in the Motherland, of all places, should be disturbing to us all.
Over the past months there has even been talk of a new race being genetically created in Africa, with white men donating their sperm so that black women can produce mixed race babies for their family. One promo shows several smiling African couples holding, what appears to be their white baby, as if to say, “This could be you.”
Now it appears that an area in Nairobi known for its robust black market transactions and law enforcement bribes is the go-to place for this latest rush to lighten your skin; this time, using expensive injections of topical skin-lightening cream.
According to a report by Elite Daily there are dangerous mercury levels in these skin-whitening creams that hint to the dangerous nature of the chemicals used in efforts to alter complexion. Medical professionals, including Harvard graduate and dermatologist Dr. Pranav Pancholi, admit there is still much to learn about the effects these non-regulated creams have on the body.
The products used on the streets are not used by certified professionals and the trade in black market creams and injections is completely unregulated.
Rose — a River Road vendor who has been whitening her own skin for years, as well as her clients’ — explained to Vice its cultural significance in her community, where everyone from national celebrities to clients from India and Somalia pay up to $70 for one treatment.
“The injection lightens you from inside. It makes women clean. If you want an even color and fast results, injecting is much better than a cream.”
Kenya is not alone in this trend — Jamaica has faced a similar epidemic, and American celebrities and publications have been called out for apparent digital lightening of Beyoncé, Lupita Nyong’o and India Arie.
Bleaching, whitening, and lightening techniques have also been criticized in documentaries like “Dark Girls” and NBA star Andre Iguodala’s denouncing of his own bobble head — but studies show that skin tone bias is very much a reality.
The stigmatized standard of light skin is far from over in Kenyan society, as one of Rose’s clients told Vice, “Nairobi is very competitive and Kenyan men like women with whiter skin.”
Visit Vice.com to read more on this.