In October, Jamaican artist and reality TV star Spice posted a picture on her Instagram with a caption “Nothing wrong with a fresh start.” To most, a new start is a positive thing to restart life with a clean slate for a positive change.
In this instance, the new start came with a picture that depicted Spice multiple skin tones lighter than her natural dark brown complexion.
Speculation whirled about that she had used skin bleaching agents to give herself that lighter complexion. While some praised Spice’s new look, others seemed disappointed and critical that another black woman decided that natural melanin wasn’t good enough.
As fans went back and forth in the comment section, Spice deleted old photos of herself from her social media.
Soon after, the truth behind the picture would ultimately be revealed.
Spice did not actually lighten her skin or alter her appearance. She instead used makeup to market her new song and video, “Black Hypocrisy,” and to bring awareness to the issue of colorism.
In the beginning of the video, Spice is seen as her normal self, proclaiming how she loves who she is. In the song she proclaims:
Mi love the way mi look
Mi love mi pretty black skin
Respect due to mi strong melanin
Proud of mi colour, love the skin that I’m in
Bun racism, demolish colourism
As the song continues she is now seen with the lighter skin and asks:
Well since yuh she that I’m too black for you
I’ll please yuh, do I look how you want me to?
Now I’m gonna see if you gonna say I’m too black for you
Or do I look pretty to you?
Colorism is not only something that occurs in the West Indian culture, but all over the world. For those who may not be aware, colorism works to favor people with lighter skin tones over those with darker skin.
Unfortunately, this is something that has been seen for centuries. As far back as slavery, those with lighter skin primarily worked in the house, while those with darker skin were made to work outside in the fields to do the manual labor.
There have even been instances of colorism in entertainment. Director Spike Lee’s 1988 film “School Daze” brought the issue to light as well. The “Wannabees” were lighter-complected with straight or curly “pretty hair” and the “Jigaboos” were dark skin with kinky, coily hair. These two groups were constantly battling with each other.
Spice wanted to bring attention to the issues she has faced as an artist and in her native Jamaica.
In the video, she says that she was told she could go further in her career if she was lighter.
In recent years, skin bleaching has become a billion-dollar industry. Many people of color have been told and have started to believe that with lighter skin they will be more successful and desirable.
This biggest issue with this is that young girls are being taught not to love themselves. Due to images constantly pushed in the media and now in their own homes, they are willing to risk their health to change who they really are. Some are even making their own products from chemicals in their homes. Possibly burning and scarring their skin as well as becoming susceptible to other health issues as those chemicals seep into their bloodstreams.
I applaud Spice for not only using her platform to speak on a serious issue in the world, but for also choosing to continue to love herself no matter what.
In a world where women are deciding to “enhance” almost every part of their bodies, we have to be careful about what we are teaching the younger generations.
Although these celebrities and entertainers don’t necessarily sign up to be role models, many children will look up to them. They don’t need to see more images that don’t look like them.
It is imperative that our young black girls learn to love the skin they’re in. When they see us and the rest of the world loving who we naturally are, no one else’s idea of beauty will affect how they feel about themselves.