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