Is White Still Right?

The New Year is bringing new attention to a very old question.

By Carla Murphy Jan 16, 2014

Lightening dark spots is one thing but the supposed before-after transformation attributed to new skin lightening cream, "Whitenicious," is shocking. And according to Nigerian-Cameroonian singer Dencia, her new milk-white look is helping to move product. "Whitenicious just sold out. Wow, restocking and will have more products by January 10th…," says a Tweet sent on January 6, what appears to be the day of the product’s debut. 

Either folks from Nigeria to Brooklyn are fed up with their lifetime supply of Ambi, or Dencia is a smart marketer. Whatever the business strategy, the singer’s new appearance sparks a still very necessary conversation about skin color, attractiveness and upward mobility. A Nigerian-American explains the popularity of skin lighteners in Nigeria this way:

"There’s a different treatment and desirability factor in Africa for lighter skinned women, well beyond what we experience in the US," he tells Clutch. "It’s an epidemic. You can’t walk a day in the streets of Lagos without seeing someone who has/is bleached. The possible benefits (more respect, increased desirability to men) outweigh the consequences, especially in a male-dominated society where women’s "independence" is frowned upon…."

But it’s not just Nigeria, India or the Caribbean where this conversation strikes gold. According to a new small study from San Francisco State University, "educated" black men are remembered as appearing lighter-skinned than they actually are. Researchers ran two pictorial experiments with 125 college student in one, 35 in the other. Both groups participated for college credit. Findings suggest to researchers that, "Black individuals who defy social stereotypes might not challenge social norms sufficiently but rather may be remembered as lighter, perpetuating status quo beliefs."

(h/t Jezebel and Clutch)