Blac Chyna Launching Her Collab Line with Dencia of 'Whitenicious' Revives Outrage Over Skin Bleaching
And rightfully so.
Blac Chyna has announced that she's heading to Lagos in about a week to launch her product in collaboration with Cameroonian singer Dencia—Whitenicious x Blac Chyna Diamond Illuminating & Lightening Cream—and the internet has been on fire since.
Although the controversy surrounding Dencia and her brand Whitenicious has been on everyone's radar for over 4 years now, the outrage surrounding this new money bag venture for both ladies (each jar costs $250 according to TMZ) isn't surprising, but disheartening.
This launch is an ironic full-circle moment—a black woman heads to an African country to celebrate and promote a product that epitomizes self-hate and health risks—all for a chance to cash in on a multibillion-dollar industry.
Skin bleaching, or skin whitening, is a phenomena that stems from the impact colonialism had not just on the African continent, but also in the Caribbean and Asia. The colonial powers were adamant on stripping our countries of our resources, but also stripping our pride as a people by equating social status and social mobility to how light (rather, white) one's skin is. Even until today, these skin lightening brands still advertise and capitalize on the colorism dynamic and inherited low self-esteem.
Along with the social implications of skin bleaching, there are literal health risks that are hard to ignore. The New York Times reminds us that about 70 percent of women in West Africa use these products and according to the World Health Organization, 77 percent of Nigerian women use some form of skin bleaching products on a daily basis.
Back in August 2016, Ghana's Food and Drug Authority placed a ban on skin bleaching products that include hydroquinone—an ingredient that stops the production of melanin that protects the skin from the sun. Despite this, there are still concerns of an increase in skin cancer because of the lack of melanin skin bleachers have.
Dencia has taken to Twitter and Instagram to defend her product, stating that Whitenicious does not have hydroquinone as an active ingredient and is FDA-compliant (although what makes a product compliant to the FDA is a gray area in of itself, but that's another conversation for another day).
In the same vain, she proceeds to gaslight critics and even threatens to sue for defamation.
But we need to call a spade a spade—and even revisit Dencia's original Whitenicious ad compared to what she used to look like.
Abeg, how can the skin that covers one's whole body be covered in 'dark spots?' Nigerians on social media have been similarly scratching their heads in bewilderment, including Burna Boy on his Instagram Stories.
"Anybody who attends this rubbish might as well commit suicide. Blacc Chyna please don't come to my Home and sell your Poison. Because the thunder that will fire you is wearing that big Balenciaga trainers," he says. "Ladies, your black is beautiful!"
Nigerian-American beauty guru and YouTuber Jackie Aina and Ghanaian-British artist FuseODG resound along as well.
Nigerian-British actor and fitness instructor Kelechi Okafor's thread adds context to the conversation—emphasizing the big picture of this move.
"If white supremacist patriarchal ideologies weren't so successful we wouldn't have the constant aspiration to be as closely linked aesthetically to whiteness," Okafor says. "I aim not to shame those who bleach but rather those who are complicit in marketing it."
Words mean things and we weren't born with two heads. To say that a product "lightens," "brightens" and "illuminates" is a slick way of coercing women to use risky products that will slowly destroy their skin and put their health at risk. Hyperpigmentation is indeed a struggle many black women face, but it should be solved by a dermatologist that specializes in treating dark skin, not by a quick fix in a jar.