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Let’s also call out colourism: Yvonne Okwara on darker women being discriminated against

 TV presenter Yvonne Okwara (Instagram)

Despite Kenya Bureau of Statistics (KEBS) banning skin lightening cosmetics, these products are still on the shelves of countless beauty shops. What makes these products so popular? Easy. We all want to be beautiful, and our society has made us think that light skin is the epitome of beauty.

The African society discriminately favours ladies with lighter skin tones over their darker counterparts. Women with darker skin tones are resorting to bleaching agents with the hope of ‘boosting’ their beauty.

Last year, in a rather sad revelation, popular TV personality Yvonne Okwara shared her story of discrimination saying that she was once dismissed as being too dark for TV.

Okwara disclosed that, because of her darker skin tone, she has had to go an extra mile from time to time while her counterparts with lighter skin tones got special treatment without necessarily doing much.

As the world battles with racism and campaigns of #BlackLivesMatter renting the airwaves, from sports to politics to fashion, Okwara has taken it upon herself to also call out colourism here at home.

In a lengthy post, the TV queen has narrowed down on the issue of colourism where women with darker skin tones are being discriminated against based on their skin tone and they are generally being dismissed as not beautiful. She details how our society dictates that having a lighter skin means you are better, beautiful and subsequently, more successful.

“We are all talking about black lives matter. But we also need to reflect on our own culture in this part of the world. Colourism. Darker skinned girls and women are treated differently. We have to work twice as hard, be twice as smart to get ahead, because, what else do we have going for us, right? Because, inadvertently or otherwise this is the standard that has been set: light skin= beauty= opportunity= work = wealth= good marriage = beautiful children.” Okwara highlights in her post.

“We may all like to focus elsewhere, but charity begins at home. Before you stand up for the BLM movement, before you judge men and women for lightening their skin, telling them to love their skin, why not examine what got us here and how we got here?”

Throwing in her own experience, Okwara added:

“On a personal note, it’s not been easy for me. Especially in this industry, I’ve seen the privilege that light skin has accorded others. I’ve seen them get away with murder, when I’ve been held to a higher standard. I’ve been expected to be smarter because, “you don’t have the looks so you’ve got to use your brain instead” It hasn’t been easy, It’s exhausting at times, but it’s also rewarding. But it needs to change.”

What is worse: a fake smile or a grumpy face?

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