Kenyan model, Ajuma Nasenyana is speaking out against the practice of skin-lightening and European-based beauty standards.
The 28-year-old Ajuma is one of few black models to achieve international stardom. She has frequented the runways of Milan, Paris, London and New York and has worked for Ford Models for Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen. She’s using her voice to combat the still growing epidemic of skin lightening.
“It seems that the world is conspiring in preaching that there is something wrong with Kenyan ladies’ kinky hair and dark skin,” said Nasenyana, who also has dark skin. Referring to a Swedish cosmetics firm that recently entered the Kenyan market, she said that big advertising and modeling agencies seem to be promoting lighter models over the darker ones.
“Their leaflets are all about skin-lightening, and they seem to be doing good business in Kenya. It just shocks me. It’s not okay for a Caucasian to tell us to lighten our skin,” she says. She says Europeans have natural skin and wonders why they want “us to bleach ours.”
The 5 foot-10 model says that while she’s never been tempted to lighten her own skin, the pressure to do so in her native Kenya is strong.
“It’s a pity that people don’t appreciate black beauty,” she said.