Friday, June 28, 2013

One Woman's Experience Growing Up Dark-Skinned in Nigeria

Posted in:

By Funmi

Been reading a lot about being dark skinned on the blog so much now,I remember the past.

I am black. So black, my nicknames growing up were Ebony, Goliwog(after d famous goliwog doll from the enid blyton stories) and dudu (in secondary school).

I was seven when an aunt first told me not to bleach my skin and I had no clue what she was talking about. My aunties would go, 'oh, she's black, but she's cute so I guess she'll turn out alright). By the time I was 10. I was already self conscious about my black skin, and I thought I was ugly. I drank only fanta because I thought coke would make me darker and I shyed away from pictures because I was easily the darkest.

Where I'm going is this- here in naija, there's a big deal about skin colour too and this article applies to us as well. We need to watch what we say to our kids because it affects their self esteem. People don't bleach as much as they did back then anymore, but there are other dangerous thoughts we could sow if not careful.

My 7yr old daughter came home one day and said she was fat. She's been making me give her smaller portions of food because she says people poke fun at her. She is not even chubby. I do not want her to grow up fat, but I also do not want her to think that being anorexic is the way to go.

Being a healthy weight, being self confident, being generous and being kind to people, (in my opinion) are more of the things we should focus on telling our kids.

I wonder do men face this issue as well?


Funmi shares her fiction and non-fiction on Naijastories. Check out her writing here and on her personal blog


  1. Thanks Funmi for this; very true.

    However, the truth is that the issues extend beyond just skin colour and weight. I was dark skinned, skinny and quite tall growing up ( I still am). The comments I heard from neighbours and teachers almost eroded my self esteem. They made me want to slouch every chance I got because I was ashamed to stand tall and be noticed. However, i guess if i didnt like how tall I was, i could not do anything about it. Bleaching was to dark skin what 'hiding away' was to being lankily tall. Thanks to my parents and aunts who were also tall and quickly noticed how I seemed to always want to hide,and took it upon themselves to affirm me, with time I 'chose' not to let those get to me.

    Recently, I heard a young girl aged 7 say to a 6 year old girl who was quite chubby 'I despise your fatness'. Where did she get such an idea from?

    I perfectly agree that we need to be careful what we say to our kids and other kids and what we expose them to. Truth is that the streotypes exist all over the media and our balance comes from filtering out what they hear and believe.

    Comparing two sisters and saying one is prettier than the other when both young girls are right there may not be a good idea. It is okay to have the opinion, but to disregard the girl's feelings and say it simply because one can, I do not consider okay. The tactless statements people made to me jokingly oftentimes as a child about being tall and skinny hurt and I still remember, although I'm glad that I rose above them.

  2. Judging by the number of men i have known and seen with 'red faces', bleaching is acceptable by African men. But the population who bleach are fewer in number.....maybe cause 'beauty/skin tone' are not their currencies of trade as it is for women.


Click Post a Comment to share your thoughts, I'll love to hear from you. Thanks!

*Comments on old posts are moderated and may take sometime to be shown. That's just because I want to see them and respond to you if necessary.