The yellow-bone “fever” conversation

by Xoliswa Madiba


Just in case you are wondering if this is a new health scare that is somehow similar to bird flu or the Ebola virus, you can rest assured that this an ancient and self-inflicted human skin condition which has been around for the better part of human existence. It has been for many centuries in and outside of Africa that men and more particularly, women of lighter skin tone are favoured over those with darker skin. In the quest for beauty, people of darker skin find themselves somehow discriminated against in favour of those with lighter skin colour. This has given those people with that skin colour a better life, opportunities, and treatment in society, the workplace and even as potential marriage partners, despite its long-term effects.

This is now a booming billion-dollar industry which street vendors, magazines, local and international celebrities, classified adverts, and marketers have jumped in on. Social media has also given this phenomenon a huge boost in terms of world or global recognition to even a younger generation. A study by Pew Research Center and Docstoc shows that 62% of males and 71% females between the ages of 18 to 35 years are the most active users. This speaks volumes in terms of how much influence these products have on its users.

Are you familiar with the slogan “SAY GOODBYE TO PIGMENTATION AND SPOTS FOREVER”? well, this is a slogan for or by skin whitening product Whitenicious by Nigerian singer and philanthropist Denicia which sold-out within a week of launching and landing on the shelves. Denicia received major criticism on social media for her product and how the tone of her skin became lighter and lighter, many going as far as to say it is an abomination and disgrace to humanity.

The National Health Services based in the United Kingdom says the main techniques are laser treatment, chemical peels, and lightening creams. There are side effects such as itchiness, flaky skin, and a major burning or stinging sensation. The health service also says beyond side effects the most that could go wrong is the thinning of the skin alongside liver and kidney failure which becomes a major problem for people even who live the healthiest of lifestyles.

This topic has been a debate for years but somehow some people still confuse the two terms, racism and colourism. A colourist is an individual who partakes in discrimination based on someone’s skin tone. Unlike a racist, a colourist doesn’t factor race but uses the tone of one’s skin to determine characteristics of an individual.

Even the Caucasian race has or had this type of issue mainly in the Victorian era where we would find whiteface painting in society as this signified a certain level of superiority in terms of status.

Well, whatever speaks to you more, do your research and make sure that the product you are using on your face or skin will not have long term effects. Most importantly, embrace the skin you are in.

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