Beauty is BLEACHED skin deep

At some stage if the name Mshoza was mentioned, you would take a trip down memory lane and start “singing” her greatest hit (which is actually the only one I know); Kotez. She was a confident teenage girl who came on out on the kwaito scene at a stage where child stars were popular. Now the teenage girl has grown up and her new claim to fame is her augmented breasts and bleached skin.

Last week Mshoza was interviewed on 3Talk to discuss her skin bleaching treatments and her reasons for going lighter. Most of the statements she made were quite contradictory for example: “I do not want to be white” and then later “I would be happy if a white person said I was lighter than them”.

Many people have given their opinion on this and on the most part Mshoza has felt judged and singled out. The fact of the matter is she’s not the only person who is doing this, in fact some older women you know with what is called “dichubaba” on their faces are victims of cheap skin lightening creams that exist during their time. Dark skinned women have been trying to get lighter for years. The burning question is why?

One of the things Lerato Moloi – who was also interviewed on 3Talk – said was that, as a dark skinned girl growing up she was often teased and called names like Mantsho and gorilla. I remember being in grade 5 and I had a poster of destiny’s child. To me, Kelly Rowland was the prettiest of the girls but when I asked one of the boys he pointed at Beyonce and said Kelly was far too dark to be hotter than Beyonce. I was 10 years old and this was coming from a 10 year old boy. This is obviously something he had been exposed to and made a decision on. The lighter skinned girls were prettier to him and that was that. He was 10 years old though so I’m hoping he’s grown up and realised that beauty is not about the shade of black, or white.

If a boy at 10 years old however, has that mindset he must have developed it from somewhere. Society has often displayed the lighter skin as more appealing. One of the other people interviewed on 3Talk mentioned songs sung by black people at weddings like “Ngwana o tshwana le lecoloured” meaning the girl looks coloured. The mentality was that the coloured people were prettier because their skin was fairer and their hair not as course as ours. We can blame apartheid for that idea. That would explain the old ladies with the chubaba’s but what about my generation that goes on about “yellow-bones” and refers to dark skinned girls as Kelly Rowlands? We can only blame apartheid for things to a certain extent. After that we need to take responsibility for our actions.

People can be so offensive without realising it. I am a venda girl and for most of my life I’ve been told I don’t “look venda”. When I ask what that means the answer is often you are not as ugly, or not as dark or your nose is far too small. Statements like you are pretty, followed by “for a venda girl” irritate me because they leave me feeling like I am pretty according to one standard but would not match up against another. The term “dark-beauty” seriously needs some reassessment. Do you tell the light skinned girl she’s a light beauty? Again you are putting her on a different standard. Like being number one on Mvela League when you know there’s a PSL and you don’t match up to the worst team on that league. It is a beautifully wrapped offensive compliment. Kind of like when someone told me I have a beauty that takes a while to see. If I was an insecure person I probably would have done everything I could to make my beauty more instant. As people we hurt others and kill their self-confidence a comment at a time.

I don’t know how Mshoza’s childhood was, I don’t know who has said what to her but her idea of what is beautiful may be a result of a long life of hearing things that got to her and so she’s decided to do something about it. I don’t agree with it, but in a strange way I understand. I have been fortunate enough to have grown up in an environment where my beauty was and still is affirmed by my own family. My mother hates weaves because she believes I look more beautiful naturally and to me that’s always a voice I can reference when I’m feeling low.

Someone who has not had the same experience, or has had more people tell the lies rather than the truth will subconsciously heed to the voice most heard. You get people with strong personalities and you get those who don’t. Watch what you say to people, make sure you’re building them and not destroying their self esteem. You never know, your little comment on how pretty someone is may be what they needed to stop them from making an irreversible modification to their body.

My mom often says you cannot change the mind of someone with 32 teeth so do not even try. That is often the case, so start with children. Speak into their lives so they will be self confident adults, undetered by the negative commentary on their beauty. Help them realise the colour of their skin, or the shape of their body does not change or affect their beauty. Beauty is skin deep, they need to realise their worth and that will make them more attractive than anything the do on the outside.



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