Advertisements Attempt to Detest Black Skin In Senegal

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Recent advertisements and posters in Senegal are aimed to teach black women how to bleach their skin. Activists are decrying the images.


Recent advertisements and posters for bleaching cream Khess Petch in Senegal are causing an outrage amongst activists who believe the ads are a blatant attempt to redefine beauty in the country. Khess Petch, which means “all white” in the local tribal language, started marketing to Senegalese women about a year ago — placing ads in the capital Dakar. The ads featured before and after pictures of product users with dark skin who appeared to have lighter skin 15 days later.

Activists are fighting back and reclaiming the beauty of dark skin. A counter-campaign was launched online at “We were scandalized [by ads] suggesting that black is not beautiful because it recommends that young women should transform themselves in a fortnight,” said Aisha Deme, who runs the website. “In spontaneous response, we wanted to elevate the black woman and we launched ‘Nuul Kukk,’ which means ‘all black.’ “ The “all black” campaign has countered with its own advertisements of proud black women, Ms. Deme said. The news surfaces as other countries in Africa are also facing an identity crisis.

As previously reported, recent statistics from The World Health Organization show that at 77 %, Nigerian women are the leading group of African females utilizing skin bleachers. Coming in at second, third, and fourth respectively are the women of Togo at 59% , South Africa at 35%, and Mali at 25%. These women are oftentimes unaware of the damaging affects of bleaching creams. Dr. Noora Moti-Joosub of South Africa states, “I’m getting patients from all over Africa needing help with treating their ochronosis. There is very little we can do to reverse the damage and yet people are still in denial about the side-effects of these products.” Ochronosis is a type of hyper-pigmentation that makes skin turn a dark purple color. The latter disease is not the only harmful side effect. According to Dr. Lester Davis, a senior researcher at the University of Cape Town, leukemia and cancer of the liver and kidneys are also harmful side effects of skin lighteners.

Do you believe American pop culture has any influence on the perception of beauty in Africa?

Maria Lloyd (@WritingsByMaria) is the Business Manager for the Your Black World Network and Dr. Boyce Watkins. She is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University and an advocate of dismantling the prison industrial complex, increasing entrepreneurship, reforming education, and eradicating poverty.
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