Kenyan Short Film, “Yellow Fever” Show How Pervasive, and Absurd the Quest for Skin Lightening Has Become Globally

When I first heard of this short film by Kenyan filmmaker Ng’endo Mukii, I thought…WOW! What a unique use of illustration, animation and videography to transmit the epidemic of skin lightening throughout the African continent.

Then as I was watching, I saw the hairdresser with the yellow face and hands– the only body parts she was able to afford to bleach–I couldn’t help but think how absurd it all is. I mean…yellow hands and face and a dark brown body?! That’s disgusting! What’s even more sad is that this woman probably thinks it’s an improvement over her uniformly brown, smooth skin.

I was talking to a friend about this issue–who is white and British–and his reply was that of regret that women with such gorgeous brown skin would want to obliterate it. “They should love themselves, and if they can’t find men who won’t filter based on hue, then they should move on with men that will.”

That’s easier said than done, especially if the women are essentially “land locked” away from men who are less color struck. I mean, if the yellow-tail-chasing-men are your only option, you do that whole, “When in Rome…” thing, right?

As colorist as the black folks in America are, I have to admit I am completely puzzled at the lengths in which African and Caribbean people are going to acquire the look of a zombie-cadaver. Like…psychological issues out of it, IT’S UGLY AS PHUCK!!!

Somebody please help me understand this.

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