It’s a little sad to see that in this day and age, people are still trying to change their skin color. The transformation of Nigerian and Cameroonian pop star Dencia is particularly disturbing. If the photographs are to be believed, she has gone from a healthy brown to a sickly pale white by using her own brand of skin whitening cream called Whitenicious. The controversial cosmetic product has brought her much criticism because of what it stands for, but Dencia has just one reply to silence her critics: “I don’t even care because they are bringing me business.”
Whitenicious is said to remove dark spots and effectively lighten skin in just seven days. The cream has become quite popular in West Africa, where some women are believed to be obsessed with the color of their skin. And according to Dencia, she doesn’t think she’s encouraging people to change, she’s just giving the girls what they want. “These girls are not trying to bleach their skin. They’re just trying to get rid of these little things that is making them feel uncomfortable, you know?” she said, referring to dark spots.
Dencia also tried to justify herself by explaining that many of her customers were African-American, not African. “Because the white man doesn’t even like light Africans. They like Black Africans,” she said. “Look at all the Africans that are successful in the world. They are as black as Alek Wek. And if I was as Black as Alek Wek, I would never use anything on my skin.” I’m not sure what she’s saying makes much sense.
Critics aren’t buying her explanation either. She has been especially criticized for changing her own skin tone as a marketing gimmick. Her ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures show an almost unbelievable transformation. Many people feel that what she’s doing is instrumental in promoting self-hatred among young African women with dark skin. When the product was launched in January, one person tweeted in response: “This #whitenicious cream of yours is an abomination and creating more insecurities among women all over the world.”
“When Martin Luther King Jr. said, “I have a dream…” The dream was not to become white,” tweeted another.
But it appears that Dencia isn’t too worried about that. “When you take that picture and you put a picture of Dencia darker, this is what you’re telling people – that the product really works. And guess what? People really want to buy it. It’s what it is. I don’t really care,” she admitted. “I was never that dark in real life.” Dencia insists that it was never meant to be used as an all-over whitening cream. “I’m not saying ‘say goodbye to your black skin and try to be like Dencia.’ That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying ‘say goodbye to dark spots and hyperpigmentation.’”
Dencia is also quick to point out that most women wouldn’t use Whitenicious to change their skin tone completely, because of its luxury price point. A small pot of the stuff costs $60 and you could get a large one for $160. “I don’t see anybody spending all that money to bleach their entire skin. I don’t see that happening.” she said. “Do I have customers who come and buy stuff for over $2,000? Yes, I do. Do I ask them what they want to do with it? No, I don’t care because it’s their money, it’s how they want to spend it.”
She doesn’t even seem very concerned about the possibility of her cream being cancerous either. When warned about it, she was completely unperturbed: “But guess what? The air you breathe outside causes you cancer. Everything in the world causes cancer.”
“Whitenicious is what it is,” she said simply. “Take people for who they are and accept people for being honest about who they are, what they do and all that.”
I’m having a hard time believing Denicia is really as white as her Whitenicious photos make her out to be, but even if they are just digitally altered, the message they are promoting is pretty disturbing.