#BleachedBeauty Affair sparks off Kenya’s beauty scene

BY EVE CHEGE

Pretty hurts…and a lot of people don’t mind the pain. Presently in Kenya, the skin lightening trend is under the spotlight with an emerging trend of how the country’s elite, young teen girls and ladies as well are highly injecting themselves with black market creams to become lighter.

The act of lightening one’s skin with harmful cosmetic products, which is often referred to as bleaching, continues to be a non-stop trend not only in Nigeria, but in Africa at large and with recent mention in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.

In an exclusive interview with replay254 at her business premises, a skin lightening expert along the River Road in Nairobi’s hustle and bustle retail avenue, Rose speaks on a fast method with which the country’s elite lighten their skin.

Kenyas-Kim-Kardashian-June-2014-BellaNaija.com-01Where her business is located is known for its “backstreet beauticians” who promise clients they will look younger and wait for it – ten shades lighter.

“You must only use a small amount, otherwise you can become albino. This is strong stuff,” Rose says as she unwraps a syringe and a needle, and then fills the syringe with pink cream which costs up to $70 (Ksh 6,200).

The content over years has caused major and irreversible health scares as it’s known to contain high mercury content.

Rose says “The injection lightens you from inside. It makes women clean. If you want an event colour and fast results, injecting is much better than a cream.

Most of my clients are wealthy and some are national celebrities who come over the ‘beauty quickie’ as she calls it. Many are Somali or Indian. But, those ones never come to my shop. They send a driver with a photo of their skin color and I supply what they need.

“Some girls go back to their village and tell them the water of Nairobi made them lighter. There is great shame for wanting to change what God gave you,” she adds.

One of Rose’s clients (seen pictured above) reveals that her dream is to be as white as a European, claiming her “husband prefers half-caste women to darker girls”. I get more male attention now that I am lighter she finishes.

The liquid is described as one “which peels off rough/tough layers of skin” and you’ll see visible results in two weeks.

However on a rather interesting angle with regard to the contentious issue, presenter Larry Madowo of NTV last Friday interviewed popular Kenyan ‘socialite’ Vera Sidika. She stated she has spent thousands of dollars on treatment for her skin with her interview, according to BBC Africa, going viral and further prompting the hashtag #BleachedBeauty.

BBC Trending reports that Vera is often referred to as “Kenya’s Kim Kardashian” because just like the reality TV star, she is fond of posting photos of her derriere on social media.

Speaking openly about her skin lightening treatment, she said, “Looking good is my business. My body is my business, nobody else’s but mine.”

Vera, who also posts images of herself rocking pricey designer duds, says she has had skin lightening done in the UK at a cost of almost 15 million Kenyan shillings ($170,000/£100,000). And she goes on to highlight how the treatment has clearly helped her business. She also notes that there has been a demand for her services ever since she lightened her skin.

Sidika-BleachAffairSpeaking exclusively to Larry, having interviewed Vera was highly critic on social media that seemed to be a huge mistake done on broadcast selection and had this to say, “I was accused of promoting or endorsing a white-centred view of beauty for African girls by interviewing her. The criticism was quite intense.”

After the reaction, NTV decided to run a poll session that lasted for half an hour asking people to share their thoughts with the hashtag – #BleachedBeauty witnessing more than 4000 people airing their personal opinions and respondence that pretty much seemed to castigate and condemn Vera’s lack of priorities, self-appreciation and social inappropriateness.

Larry Madowo later referred to the reaction as “hypocritical”, stating that many men in Kenya prefer light skinned women which they call “yellow yellow”, while dark-skinned ladies being referred to as “tinted”.

Photo Credit: instagram.com/vee_beiby & replay254©

 

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