Ilhan 728×90
Ilhan 728×90

Black to bleach – The search for Beauty

By  Hassan

What started as a fashion craze among our beautiful girls in Northern Kenya is now showing its ugly side. The search for ‘beauty’ has pushed most girls to resort to the use of chemicals to give themselves a lighter skin by applying bleaching agents.

Skin bleaching has become a fashion trend among black women the World over and even some men and our ladies were not left behind.

As if being black is a curse, they all decided to look lighter. There was a boom for cosmetic venders and for the first time, we heard of names we never knew about such as Mediven which is commonly mispronounced here as ‘medifeen‘. If you walk around nowadays, you will note that the number of dark – skinned ladies can be counted.

They say ‘Naag doqon ah iyo mugdi unbaa madoow’ which literally translates to ‘the only dark things around are foolish women and darkness itself’. This statement has driven even those who were erstwhile confident and proud of their darker skin to trek the same road.

There are several factors that are making life difficult for those who decided to ‘correct’ God’s creation. I am using the phrase ‘to correct’ because I am a Muslim and Allah says in the Holy Qura’n that “We have certainly created man in the best of stature (mould)”. Quran V (95:4). Therefore, when you wake up and decide that you should not be black, yet God has given you that color, is it not tantamount to correcting him?. If I come back to my opening statement, among some of the factors that are making life difficult for these group is the fact that this region’s climatic conditions are not favorable. Sometimes the degree of hotness hits around 40 degrees Celsius.

The effect of this harsh climatic conditions made things worse for my sisters. They loose their natural and beautiful skin color but do not achieve the desired results. They develop a funny skin color with black spots and you would be forgiven for mistaking them for a cheetah or a leopard due to their spotty skin.

Although am not a medical doctor, I understand that the effects on their health – from skin cancer to liver and kidney damage, is very huge in the long run. Other visible side effects include acne, visible capillaries, weak skin, elevated blood sugar, stretch marks on the arms, bluish – black blemishes on the skin around the eyes and cheeks e.t.c.

In the US for example, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has put forward a proposal to ban the sale – over – the – counter of skin lightening products containing a chemical known as hydroquinone. However, skin lightening is a huge market in Asian countries such as Singapore, China and India. I am sure it is a huge market in North Eastern Kenya too.

We should follow the the steps of the US FDA and ban the sale of skin lightening cosmetics in all our counties and beyond. I am also appealing to my sisters to stop this practice and stay away from it altogether. Remember our mothers and grandmothers used only ‘uunsi‘ and ‘henna‘ and they were among the most beautiful women in the World.


frankincense (uunsi)



To my sisters, black is beautiful. It is not a curse. Black ladies are record breakers the World over. Just the other day, Lupita Nyong’o who is our Kenyan sister took Hollywood by storm and collected coveted prizes. By the way she is dating K’naan, a Somali rapper and she may soon be Halima K’naan Nyong’o and am waiting with abated breath for her to join us (the Somalis) and teach our girls that black is beautiful.

Have a beautiful day!

The writer is a freelance journalist and comments on currents issues. He can be reached at

Do you have something to add to this story? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Your comments:

About The Author

NepJournal is a progressive media initiative that aims to serve as the leading space where North Eastern Kenya’s leading thinkers, analysts and writers provide you, our readers, with new perspectives on all issues affecting the region. We aim to publish daring perspectives with original content, and beautifully written pieces, to give voice to writers and thinkers so as to inform, educate and empower our people.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *