I wasn’t sure that I was going to write about this, but something happened on Friday that tipped the balance.
I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, it means that I have many tiny cysts around my ovaries- I’ve seen pictures of the little buggers that frame my ovaries and cause me a lotta grief. PCOS means different things to different women, it’s a syndrome- a collection of symptoms and the common thread is usually the presence of those tiny cysts on the ovaries, acne, weight issues and hirsutism- excessive hair growth in unwanted places. There are many other terrible symptoms that make it a horrible thing to live with- you can google it.
Sometimes I get menstrual periods that are relentless, painful and bloodful- I know that’s not a word. When such episodes occur, a hospital trip is inevitable. Sometimes I refuse to go the hospital and have bled for twenty-one days straight before I changed my mind and endured the stupid questions I usually got at UBTH. I’m not the most pleasant person in the world and when I have bled for a while, I’m a ticking bomb. Then the drugs for stopping the bleeding make me gain weight too, so you can imagine how unhappy I am to have the nonsense thing happen. Please don’t ask me to pray about it, I swear I’d punch/deck you through your phone or whatever you’re viewing this with.
Anyway this post is about my skin issues, acne especially. In October, I worked in a place that did plenty skincare consultations and treatments. According to my then boss (I left the job less than a month after I started) my face did not represent their image properly (I should have quit then). I started a skincare regime that involved scrubs, astringents and lotions in October, however it wasn’t until November that I started seeing improvements.
One of the lotions has a skin lightening effect and I use it sparingly but I have still gotten lighter. It isn’t just the lotion, my spots are fading and I have been indoors mostly, the triple combination makes it really obvious. What surprised me however- is the increase in masculine attention that I’ve been getting these days. I travelled to Benin for my friend’s wedding and it felt weird that I suddenly became memorable, I was getting lift offers and in the bus park someone kept insisting on carrying my luggage.
It’s only got worse in Lagos, the catcalls and winks have begun to get on my nerves. Even though I have gained a significant amount of weight this month- thanks to the drugs I had to take for the bleeding incident that happened in October to November before my mother literally had me at gunpoint to do something. It really is hard for me to understand though that if I lighten my skin (my face in this), I will get more admirers.
On Friday, I ran into an old friend and he was raving about how good I looked and how he liked it.
“Did you get fairer?” he asked
“I’ve been at home this month, the sun no dey see me to blacken me” I replied
“You look so fresh now, this your colour dey glitter”
For the first time perhaps, I understand why girls bleach their skin. If I were interested in masculine attention, if I felt validated by the number of my toasters then I’d be encouraged to go further the skin lightening route. I’d probably get Egyptian milk or vitamin C serum or Glutathione topical and parenteral/oral treatments among others to get my yellow sisi groove on. Its sooo easy to slip into that superficial world, trust me it can be tempting. Sometimes I feel good about my “new” attractiveness, the “freshness”. Even through the storms that raged in my head and elsewhere, I still felt the slight tug of vanity.
Isn’t it sad that we see dark skin as something undesirable even though we don’t even know it? Think about it, do we say “you’re getting darker” and mean it as a compliment? NO! We say it when we think the person is stressed, ill or not looking up to their usual standard. Then we tell the person with the lightened skin how they glow, look fresh, are shinning etc. it’s pretty hard to feel beautiful when your melanin quotient is high, you really have to dig deep to get the self-esteem to love your beauty and yourself. Forget the black is beautiful slogans, the reality is quite different.
I really wish that a time would come where you can glow, glitter, shine and even be fresh with dark skin. I hope it happens soon, very soon.