It is a very common knowledge that dark skin African women are not the most loved in the society. Many times, they are told to not wear certain colors of wigs, lipsticks, eye shadows or even clothes. One time, I saw a joke talking about how darker skin African females who wear blonde hair look like mop sticks. Even though there are lots of ladies who are dark in complexion and look good with these things, it just isn’t right to a lot of people, because being dark skinned meant limitations to your fashion style.
When I was in NYSC camp, there were different beauty pageants. There was one for Miss Nysc, while there was another for Miss Ebony. The contestants of the Miss Ebony pageant were dark skin girls, as the name goes, while the ones for Miss Nysc were light skin girls, because there was already a pageant for darker skinned females. As if separating women of the same cultural background based on their complexion wasn’t bad enough, one side was raised higher by being called ‘Miss Nysc’, as it was a pageant for Youth corp members, while the other was just called ‘Miss Ebony’, meaning that it was just a compensating competition for women who are dark in complexion, because they could not fit into the category of ‘Miss Nysc’, because they had darker skin. It would have been fair is the pageant for the light skin girls was named something like ‘Miss Light Skin’, just as the one for dark skin females was named ‘Miss Ebony’, but instead, it was named ‘Miss Nysc’, because that was the standard pageant, meaning light skin females are seen as naturally more beautiful or more fit for beauty pageants than darker skin women.
Therefore, you can understand why I find it very funny, whenever Social media is quick to use dark skin girls to portray how African women should look, because we all know that not all women in Africa are dark in complexion, and even these women are not appreciated and are discriminated against. Social media only shows fake love to women who are darker by rubbing oil on their body and taking pictures of them naked, before they can be termed as ‘beautiful’ by Social media. The only time females with darker shades are appreciated is when it is time to portray Africa, of course, it is very easy to use dark skin ladies to portray Africa, one look at dark skin females, and you can guess where they are from.
Another disturbing thing is the ‘African women are curvy’ narrative Social media and every other person involved are trying to push. Agbani Darego isn’t ‘curvy’, she did not only become Miss Nigeria, she was Miss World. Curvy women maybe preferred by African men, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are not the ones that can go for beauty pageants like Miss Nigeria. Even when ‘curvy women’ walk on the runway, its for plus size fashion show. Why is there a separate fashion show for plus size women from the one that is for women? Why does the normal fashion show have only skinny women, then a separate one for ‘non skinny women’? Aren’t plus size females women too? Why can’t skinny, overweight, plus size women all walk on the same runway? After all, the audience watching the show is filled with women of different sizes.
Just like the case of women with darker skin tone, curvy/plus size women are continuously marginalized, until it is time to portray African women. The beauty pageants that took place during my Nysc totally segregated plus size women by organizing a separate contest for them, and it was called ‘big bold and beautiful’, while the skinnier girls were automatically qualified for ‘Miss Nysc’ and ‘Miss Ebony’.
Before any man reading this says ‘I prefer thick girls’ or ‘I prefer dark skin girls’, the point is not what you prefer, the point is the standard that the society has set as beautiful. I know the discrimination has reduced, but we need to do better still. Its not about what you prefer as a man or the fact that you are plus size or dark skin and can still get men, its about the fact that one day, your dark skin daughter would want to go for Miss Nysc, and she’ll be told she can’t go, because she’s dark skin and she’ll become tempted to bleach her skin, or your 200 lbs daughter would want to walk on a particular runway show, but will be shoved aside, and be told ‘we don’t need plus size women on this show’, as if plus size women aren’t women enough.
This fake love used to compensate dark skin and plus size women needs to go. African women are women of different complexion and sizes, and we should accepted with our diversity, our looks or sizes shouldn’t serve as limitations for us because they are not. All women of different sizes, shapes and skin tones can be used to portray African women because that is what African women are, we are different. Its high time we accept this diversity and stop being hypocritical.