Watch: Model Ajuma Nasenyana Talks Being Teased Over Dark Skin, Skin-Bleaching in Kenya
The typical narrative around most models’ stories is how they grew up being teased for their height and thinness, but Kenyan model Ajuma Nasenyana faced the added battle of skin prejudice.
Even now–as an international model who has walked for for some of the world’s most prestigious runways including Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood and Victoria’s Secret–Ajuma still finds her dark skin is not considered beautiful amid a skin-bleaching epidemic in Kenya and on the continent of Africa.
Ajuma recently sat down with Inspired Citizen‘s Anthony Berklich to speak about her experience, the gruesome effects of skin-bleaching, and how beauty companies and advertising contribute to the problem:
You grow up with very low self-confidence. What they know here is that dark is ugly… Kids would tease me, nobody would date me, all the girls were going out on dates and getting Valentine cards but I never received anything from a boy when I was back in school because I was not beautiful. Sometimes I feel like I’m hiding behind the media and everything saying that I’m beautiful but inside, me inside, I don’t feel what they’re saying…”
If you can afford what’s on the shelf good for you, but [they] can’t they brew it at home. They mix washing detergents and washing bleach and brew it together and they just put layers on their skin… Some of them put plastic over that and sleep. I met a woman, her face was so bad it was almost gangrene. She had open wounds because she had been bleaching and she was looking at me like I’m disgusting.”
…People have been brain-washed. Most advertising here are light skinned, they look like African-Americans, long hair weaves… but that’s not how it is. The average color is dark.
As a public figure Ajuma has made it her mission to fight the practice and commercialization of skin lightening, and hopes she can inspire a younger generation to love themselves for who they are.