February 8, 2014
#Opinion | Dencia's Whitenicious Lacks Cultural Sensitivity

Skin Bleaching was a huge topic last year. Although, the issue has been current for decades, it really took a different turn recently. You may blame social media for it if you want, I am sure you have been tagged at least once on a before and after skin bleaching picture on Facebook. Then, couple that with the online media/bloggers who bring up the topic every time another scandal arises on the matter. I have to say I am guilty too. Did you read my post on Ludacris’ Girlfriend Eudoxie and the white dolls that she gifted to black girls in Gabon? The article was all about how this could be a negative message sent to black girls about beauty. Then I even shared the news regarding Senegalese models who were banned at Dakar Fashion Week because they bleached their skins. The many blackface incidents of last year also triggered conversations on the marginalization of black/dark skinned women and the topic of bleaching. But one of the most spirited online chatters since the end of 2013 circles around, Cameroonian pop singer Reprudencia “Dencia” and her line of cosmetics called “Whitenicious”.

Launched in early January, Whitenicious is said to remove dark spots, acne, hyper pigmentation, dark knuckles and knees. To advertise the line, Dencia pasted an extremely pale and almost naked body of hers on different pictures. People’s first reaction to the name whitenicious and its promotional pictures was “WTF”! Like for real, how can she go and call her product whitenicious, then show off an obviously lightened black skin? Haven’t we had a lot to deal with already?

I personally have nothing against the product; I have never been really harsh with skin bleaching because I believe that every woman has the right to do whatever she feels she needs to gain a better self-appraisal. Some perm their hair, wear tattoos, have plastic surgery…the list is long. So, who am I to blame any woman for wanting to enhance her beauty? I think most people would be fine with skin bleaching if it did not cause many health problems and had no low self-esteem implications for our young girls.

The issue here is the fact that everything about Whitenicious lacks major cultural sensitivity, especially coming from a black/African woman who is aware of the culture of skin bleaching and its impediments. The name Whitenicious comes as a slap in the face of all those who have empowered black people to be proud of their race and attempted to change the notion that white is better. The marketing strategy used on the product aimed at making people feel that white is hot and that Whitenicious will make you whiter/hotter. Whitenicious could have inserted an emotional touch to its campaign just as Dove does. All the issues that the product is said to be treating are real problems for black women. I would know trust me. I have some of these skin issues. I have not tried the product to see how effective it is, but if it really improves the health of troubled skins, I will totally use it! But why package all the goodness in a dark skin insensitivity stunt?

In an interview with Ebony Magazine, Dencia said she loves dark skins and will never want dark skinned people to bleach their skins. She said she would not bleach her skin if she were extremely dark like Alek Wek or Lupita Nyong’o. Dencia asserted that when it comes to skin beauty, being in the middle is not as appealing as being on the extremities of the color spectrum. Since she could not be really dark, she could at least be really light. So basically nobody cares about the Kelly Rowlands, Kerry Washingtons, or any of these women who are not too light or not too dark. I disagree; I believe that people are drawn to skins that are so healthy they glow, no matter the shade.

Dencia also added that she empowers dark skinned girls to keep their skin color, because they are beautiful. But, she could do better! She could empower every single woman to keep her color because they are all beautiful, just like Dencia is beautiful with a tan and still beautiful with her pale look!

Pictures Ebony/Whitenicious

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