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Is Yvonne Okwara virtue signalling over skin lightening?

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Yvonne Okwara created a rather incisive but poignant post about skin lightening. You see, this topic is the bane of any parent of a dark skin daughter because we all know she will be inundated with messaging (both subtle and overt) that she would be more beautiful were she a few shades lighter.

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We are all talking about black lives matter. But we also need to reflect on our own culture in this part of the world. Colourism. Darker skinned girls and women are treated differently. We have to work twice as hard, be twice as smart to get ahead, because, what else do we have going for us, right? Because, inadvertently or otherwise this is the standard that has been set: light skin= beauty= opportunity= work = wealth= good marriage = beautiful children It is these attitudes that have fueled the skin lightening industry , where girls just get tired of fighting the stereotype, of proving themselves, of starting from a disadvantaged position, and so give in to the craze. We may all like to focus elsewhere, but charity begins at home. Before you stand up for the BLM movement, before you judge men and women for lightening their skin, telling them to love their skin, why not examine what got us here and how we got here? On a personal note, it's not been easy for me. Especially in this industry, I've seen the privilege that light skin has accorded others. I've seen them get away with murder, when I've been held to a higher standard. I've been expected to be smarter because, "you don't have the looks so you've got to use your brain instead" It hasn't been easy, It's exhausting at times, but it's also rewarding. But it needs to change. 📷 @aggreyojiambo MUA @miss_onchangwa_makeup HAIR @boh_wigs_studio Styled by @that_samburu_chick

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A post shared by Yvonne Okwara (@okwarayvonne) on

And given that she too is of a dark complexion, Yvonne Okwara is only too familiar with the struggle dark-skinned women endure. As attractive as they are, they still have to endure comments such as ÿou would be hotter if you were lighter”.

Yvonne Okwara blasts media industry for favoring light skin ladies (Details)

But such is life and it is unfair to us all. Still, this attitude has reportedly seeped its way into businesses and especially media. The unstated truth is that media is an industry that puts a premium on beauty. And as a result, the more beautiful the news anchor, the faster they will be propelled up the ladder.

yvonne okwara

Senior news anchor and editor, Yvonne Okwara

And this is a problem beyond it crippling women’s self-esteem because it means that often, when faced with the choice of propping up an attractive female or an intelligent show host, most times media houses lean on propping up the attractive one.

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But is Yvonne Okwara simply virtue signalling when she raises the question of colourism? Afterall, she is successful despite the perceived handicap. So why is she bringing up the emotional topic of beauty and complexion?

yvonne okwara

And on this one, I am going to say I am on the fence. Because while there is a lot of truth in what she is saying that women are especially susceptible to this ill of the Kenyan society because beauty is a major factor for them but… At the same time, women are individual beings capable of discerning what sort of media they are going to consume.

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As such, if they make the decision to bleach, nothing will stop them. Not even the government banning bleaching creams. Also, if they decide not to bleach, no amount of media and pressure will make them succumb to bleaching. Yvonne Okwara is proof of this fact.

So while I do not think Yvonne Okwara is virtue signalling, I am libertarian enough to say “to each their own”.

 

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