Skin bleaching is rapidly gaining more popularity in Africa; though Africa is marketed to the world as a continent, which is proud of its race and heritage, not everyone shares the sentiment of being too black. Research reveals that among the African countries, skin-lightening products are most popular in Nigeria, with over 75% of Nigerian women using them. British – Nigerian actor, Beverly Naya adds her voice to the campaign through her documentary film, “Skin”, urging women to keep a naturally dark skin, as they attempt to erase their individuality by bleaching their skin so they could fit the mold imposed by western standards of beauty.
Naya’s feature documentary explores beauty, colorism, and skin bleaching in Lagos. In the film, individuals give a personal account of how they have dealt with the pressure to conform to certain standards of beauty. They also reveal how colorism continues to shape the face of the entertainment industry in Africa. Naya makes a trip to her hometown exploring her rich cultural heritage with her mother and grandmother, between them three generations of beautiful black women who through sheer hard work and self-love have built useful businesses laying a solid legacy for her and many like her to build upon.
“I feel like there’s a lot of pressure in Nigeria, especially in Lagos, for women to appear a certain way, and sadly, there isn’t enough awareness on the ills of bleaching. A number of women see the results of bleaching on their friends and decide that it’s worth it without considering the long-term damage. I think a greater awareness on the risks of skin lightening products needs to happen. It’s partly why I decided to shoot Skin,” says Beverly Naya in an interview with Essence.
Last year, Skin was screened Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival & Lecture Series in New York and set to premiere on Netflix this month.