I WILL never forget the day I agreed to  have a talk with a friend who was on the verge of ditching her husband for another married man.

“I am tired of giving birth to ugly children”, she snapped when I broached the subject, telling her my mediating was at the insistence of her husband, who was also a close friend. “My daughter is so dark I feel for her at times as there is the possibility of her attracting only ugly men. 1 am dark, my husband is dark. You have seen the new man yourself, he has lovely children. Let me also have children 1 can be proud of for a change!” So she left and eventually had three children by this other man.

I wished I could say they are as ugly as the ones she had with her first

husband, but no. They are quite attractive and athletic, and she was proud of her feat! Her husband also remarried, of course. “And his new set of kids are even uglier than the ones I had for him,” smirked my friend. Lately, I learnt both of them were thinking of going back together since they were not properly divorced. I thought the idea absurd. I would have termed it impossible, if I hadn’t heard it from the now bitter father of her ‘lovely’ children, her second ‘husband’.

When she phoned a few days later, I told her of the ridiculous rumour I heard about her first husband coming back to her. “Don’t mind the jerk, he’s just jealous,” she said of her now ex-lover, “By the way, Jide (her real husband) is here and wants to talk to you.” “Are you back together” I asked him incredulously when he came on the phone. “Of course, we are!” he actually sounded happy.

“That stupid man is just an opportunist who wants to spend my wife’s money. He can talk until his face muscles burst, 1 am back with my wife. You tell him that! Let him try his luck elsewhere.”

It is true really, that some of us, dark or light, prefer light skinned mates so we could have “pretty babies”, that is why skin lightening creams and horribly concocted local bleaching soaps still sell; though they are now advertised as good for making blemishes fade rather than for lightening the whole complexion.

Jennifer was a dark skinned beauty in her secondary school days and had her share of boyfriends – though not particularly spectacular ones. She travelled abroad and came back ten years later almost as white as the next white; sporting multi-coloured hair extensions and wearing green contact lenses! “When you are abroad,” she said later, ‘You experience a lot of racism because of your skin. It got worse when I discovered that even coloured people were also picky. Being rejected by blacks because your skin is cocoa and not cream, ebony and not olive or because you are short with kinky hair instead of tall with wavy hair hurt.

“Back home, I’ve discovered that my investment in changing the colour of my skin has more than paid off. It didn’t come cheap either. Apart from very costly injections I paid to slow down the pigmentation of my dark skin, I have to keep on using expensive creams and lotions. I look in the mirror and I like what I see. It is money well spent. And my confidence has had a great boost. In this part of the world, it is often the ‘yellow pawpaw’ as those with very light skin are called, that reap the most attention. I mean, if someone was described that way, there was no need to say that person was good-looking. It was a given that light was lovely. It is up to those with darker skin who have to now prove themselves.

“It is a general belief that dark-skinned people often don’t take time to groom themselves – but that is not true. When I was darker, I really put in more effort than now, but it seldom showed. If we want to be frank with ourselves, we would admit that light skinned girls get picked up first – either as dancing partners or lovers. We shouldn’t be fooled by the “Black is beautiful” mantra, that died with the seventies!”

Little wonder then that men too have jumped into the “yellow-pawpaw”

bandwagon with glee! Few years ago, a prominent lawmaker that was impeached in one of the Northern states proudly defended his bleached, ‘glowing’ well groomed skin, and said it had nothing to do with his efficiency. How true! But there is a limit to how far you should compete with your partner in the bleaching department!’

A colleague’s husband works with a big advertising agency and he is one of their top officers. He grew from fairly light-skinned, to albino light. “It was a bit embarrassing trying to talk him out of his stupid obsession with his skin but tried, I did” confessed his wife. “He didn’t listen to me, of course. He did look better as he made the effort to slim down to compliment his new complexion – until he over-did it and spotted black patches all over his face and neck.

“The chemicals in the creams he used were so potent they burnt his skin. He now has to spend a lot of money to get rid of the patches – but he still hasn’t thrown his bleaching creams away. As things are, I leave him to do his own thing, afterall, it’s his skin, and the fact remains that in major towns and cities, a light complexion has always been a passport to special treatment whether you’re rich or poor!”


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