Dakar Fashion Week Says No to Skin Bleaching

Fashion lovers rejoice! Another fashion week host city is taking a stance against harmful beauty practices. This time, the spotlight is on the beautiful French-speaking city, Dakar. The largest city in the African country, Senegal, has hosted Fashion Weeks since 2002. This year, the city’s fashion week has taken a stance against skin bleaching.

The creator of this annual fashion event, Adama Paris, has openly stated that he is “against” the popular beauty practice of skin bleaching. Skin bleaching cream is a popular beauty product among the fashion models of Africa who wish to achieve a lighter complexion that is considered the ‘ideal’ aesthetic. Although some companies claim to make natural skin bleaching products, this harmful beauty practice may leave blotches of discoloration with long-term use. Complications of bleaching skin include, risk of heart problems, since the cream is absorbed into the blood stream, and skin cancer.

Many have spoken against the trend of African woman bleaching their skin, include New York based fashion designer, Sophie Nzinga Sy, who explains that the desire for lighter skin is “ridiculous. Our skin is something that we should value”. The fashion world used to be very racist and unwelcoming to non-white models, but now that bleak era is over. Fashion photographers now fight over the chance to photograph supermodels like Tyra Banks, Iman and Alek Wek. Fashion brand, Prada, recently made headlines for making Kenyan Model, Malaika Firth, the face of its fall/winter campaign for 2013. She is the first black model to be featured in Prada ads since Naomi Campbell in 1994.

Fashion is now embracing a more inclusive meaning of style and beauty. Runways are filled with gorgeous plus-sized models, ethnic models and other unique fashion models, and that’s a beautiful thing.

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