FBI (Former Black Individual)

They have various names; FBI, Za Yellow or Coca Cola-Fanta. Who are the people I am referring to?  These are people who have bleached their skins so that they become light skinned.  It is usually women who bleach/tone their skins in Zambia.

Let me break down the meanings of the three nicknames:

*  FBI (Former Black Individual) – You were once black but are now much lighter.

*  Za Yellow (The Yellow)  – some whose skin has turned yellow.

*  Coca Cola-Fanta – I will first give you a pictorial explanation from this site.

The knuckles which remain black are the Coca Cola part, while the skin that has been successfully bleached is Fanta.  Knuckles, elbows and toes are stubborn parts to bleach.

Is it wrong to bleach one’s skin?  Not at all!  It is just a phenomenon that I do not understand.  Many women in the seventies used a popular bleaching cream on their faces only and ended up with black blotches on their cheeks.  Unfortunately, the blotches (called ‘We came to stay’) do not go away so the affected people have had to live with the marks.  Bleaching disappeared for a few years in the eighties because of the blotched faces, but reappeared in the nineties because there were new ‘better’ creams.   The bleached skin becomes translucent and sensitive to heat, while others get the bigger than normal pimples.

My question is: why do people continue using bleaches when the negative results are around every corner?  Some reasons are:

a)  To make their skin tone even.

b)  Get a lighter skin.

c)  A lighter skinned person is more beautiful.

Points (b) and (c) may seem flimsy, but in Zambia there is widespread consensus that a light skinned person is beautiful. Another unfortunate but important sector of the population, namely men, usually agree with this view point.  Some women then go and bleach their skins, especially sex workers, so that they have more business.  A friend’s grandmother openly declared that she only loved her light skinned off-springs and she showed it.

Medical personnel have tried to inform the public about the dangers of bleaching, but people do not listen because of society’s views.  More education is needed in order to overcome the negative view many people have of dark skin.  Let us go back to the slogan and song:

“Black is beautiful”

“Black and proud”, James Brown


22 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. The Sicilian Housewife
    Feb 22, 2015 @ 12:20:01

    It’s such a pity that people knowingly risk their health because they want to look different.
    I have had a lot of Italians nagging me over the years to sunbathe, because I’m so pale and Italians don’t like the look of really white skin. I used to feel so self conscious about it, but when an aunt whom I loved very much developed skin cancer, I came to my senses: I just tell them I’m white as a sheet and they had better get used to it!
    I find it heart breaking that someone would even judge their children or grandchildren by their skin colour – what a terribly empty woman she must be.


    • Zambian Lady
      Feb 22, 2015 @ 16:17:40

      To me, one’s natural complexion is the best especially if changing it entails potential harm to somebody. It was really sad that my friend’s grandmother made a distinction between her supposedly ‘ugly’ and ‘beautiful’ grandchildren.


  2. Colline
    Feb 21, 2015 @ 23:48:03

    It is scary to realize what people will do to become the beautiful that society has decreed. That is why I feel it is so important to teach our young girls to love the skin that they are in.


    • Zambian Lady
      Feb 22, 2015 @ 16:23:06

      You are right – kids should be taught from an early age about accepting people who look different from themselves. This would go a long in the children also accepting themselves as they are.


  3. leggypeggy
    Feb 17, 2015 @ 16:48:43

    What an interesting post. So sad that women feel the need to bleach their skin, and in harder to believe when the side effects are known.


  4. earthriderjudyberman
    Feb 14, 2015 @ 03:29:54

    I have a couple of students who argue over who’s better: the lighter-skinned one or the darker-skinned one. It’s too bad that they don’t realize that they’re both gorgeous in their own way, whether it’s a caramel tone or a rich, dark chocolate shade. 😉

    But, then, when I was younger, I wanted long, straight black hair like Cher. Mine was dark brown and wavy. I guess it’s human nature to never be satisfied with what we have. 😉


  5. rommel
    Feb 13, 2015 @ 11:56:40

    That’s how it is in the Philippines. They want to have light complexion. Many of those who can afford pay good money to be light skinned. It is a crazy crazy world world we live in.


  6. Bill
    Feb 11, 2015 @ 12:13:47

    When I was a teenager white people would put oil on their skins and sunbathe with the goal of turning their skin as dark brown as possible (while risking sunburn and skin cancer). Some may still do this. These days it is very popular to inject India ink into one’s skin to tattoo pictures on our bodies.

    So I suppose it isn’t surprising that some dark-skinned people bleach their skin.

    Prejudice in favor of lighter-skinned people is sad and unfortunate. That happens in Haiti and the Dominican Republic too (and probably many other places).


  7. Kourtney Heintz
    Feb 10, 2015 @ 17:45:59

    I wish society would embrace people’s differences. Every skin color is beautiful.


  8. Minuscule Moments
    Feb 09, 2015 @ 10:26:19

    I had no idea that you could do this. I am so fair that I burn and freckle. I use to be so jealous of the girls in my school who had beautiful dark skin. Are we ever happy with who we are? I guess if you ask most women, they have something they would love to change. But with the risk of your health, it is a sad affair.


  9. gfchopstix
    Feb 08, 2015 @ 08:10:40

    Not happy in our own skins? Some want darker skin. Others want fairer skin. I agree with Gallivanta – we should be happy with ourselves. Being healthy and happy are far more important than the appearance of our skins.


  10. anotherday2paradise
    Feb 08, 2015 @ 03:06:11

    I think black is beautiful too. We should all be proud in our own skin, whatever its colour.


  11. Gallivanta
    Feb 08, 2015 @ 00:51:25

    People always seem to want to change their skin colour. Look at all the pale white ladies who expose themselves to the dangers of sunbeds so they can have a tanned skin. I prefer to nourish the skin I am in. 😉


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