News / Africa

Dakar Fashion Week Takes Stand Against Skin Bleaching

Models wear creations by designer and organizer of Dakar Fashion Week Adama Paris (Ndiaye) during the 10th annual event in the Senegalese capital of Dakar, Senegal, June 17, 2012.
Models wear creations by designer and organizer of Dakar Fashion Week Adama Paris (Ndiaye) during the 10th annual event in the Senegalese capital of Dakar, Senegal, June 17, 2012.
Reuters
Backstage at Dakar Fashion Week a group of young women squeeze into impossibly high heels while others sit still as make-up artists paint their eyelids a shining emerald color.
 
All legs and cheekbones, the models are subject to the same pressures as their counterparts walking runways in London, Paris, and New York. And perhaps more.
 
Like many women from the streets of Senegal, some fashion models in West Africa have bleached their skin, seeking to achieve a “cafDe au lait” color regarded by some as the esthetic ideal.
 
This year, however, Senegal's marquee fashion event is making a stand against the damaging practice.
 
“I am against it,” said Adama Ndiaye, better known as Adama Paris, who started the annual fashion fete in 2002.
 
Ndiaye announced at the opening of Dakar Fashion Week that she had banned any models using skin depigmentation cream from participating in the six-day event.
 
A local newspaper, Sud Quotidian, claimed more than 60 percent of Senegalese women use skin bleaching products for non-medical reasons.
 
Women of all classes and education levels use these often unregulated skin creams. Well-heeled and unshod women across Senegal bare the tell-tale signs of long-term bleaching - blotches of discolored skin on their arms and faces.
 
“I'm trying to teach them to like themselves,” said Ndiaye of the natural-toned models selected for this year's show.
 
Self-esteem is not the only issue at stake, according to dermatologist Fatoumata Ly.
 
“In my practice, I see a huge number of women with complications from this practice,” Ly said.
 
Women often use prescription-strength corticosteroid creams to lighten their skin, she said.
 
“When absorbed into the blood stream, corticosteroids pose serious risks, particularly for the heart,” she said. Skin cancer is also a potential side effect.
 
This year's collections emphasized sleek minimalist designs, in forceful primary colors and jet blacks, with designs targeting international women. Models strutted in towering Louboutin platform pumps down a runway inside a luxurious nightclub.
 
The African designers showcasing their talents hailed Ndiaye's public stance at the event, which ended on Sunday.
 
Sophie Nzinga Sy, a couturier educated at the prestigious Parsons School of Design in New York, was infuriated when she saw huge billboards promoting skin lightening products springing up around Dakar.
 
“It was ridiculous,” she said of the blanched face used in the advertising campaign. “Our skin is something that we should value.”
 
Sidling nervously between hair and make-up stations, models also expressed their support for Ndiaye's initiative. “I think it's a great idea,” said Dorinex Mboumba. “It will discourage others from the practice.”
 
“We don't need to change the color of our skin to be beautiful.”
 
For Ndiaye herself, the stand against skin bleaching largely boils down to esthetics.
 
“It's not even pretty,” she said. “For me, it's just a turn off.”

You May Like

VOA Exclusive: Interview With Myanmar President Thein Sein

Thein Sein calls allegations that minority Muslim Rohingya are fleeing alleged torture in Rakhine state a media fabrication More

New Yellow Fever Research May Lead to Improved Treatment

Researchers identify features of disease that may lead to more effective treatment More

UN Rights Commission Investigates Eritrea

Three-member commission will start collecting first-hand information from victims and other witnesses in Switzerland and Italy next week More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concernsi
X
November 19, 2014 11:39 PM
The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.
Video

Video What Jon Stewart Learned About Iran From 'Rosewater'

Jon Stewart, host of the satirical news program "The Daily Show" talks with Saman Arbabi of Voice of America's Persian service about Stewart's directorial debut, "Rosewater."
Video

Video Lebanese Winemakers Thrive Despite War Next Door

In some of the most volatile parts of Lebanon, where a constant flow of refugees crosses the border from Syria, one industry continues to flourish against the odds. Lebanese winemakers say after surviving a brutal civil war in the 1970s and 80s, they can survive anything. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.
Video

Video China's Rise Closely Watched

China’s role as APEC host this week allowed a rare opportunity for Beijing to showcase its vision for the global economy and the region. But as China’s stature grows, so have tensions with other countries, including the United States. VOA’s Bill Ide in Beijing reports on how China’s rise as a global power is seen among Chinese and Americans.

All About America

AppleAndroid