Does the craze about 'yellow bones' explain black women's envy of white women?

The notion of beauty has captured the world's attention in the modern society. The media plays a crucial role in dishing out ideas that epitomise beauty on advertisements, movies, music videos etc.; thus disqualifying other notions of self-presentation in the process. In South Africa the concept of 'yellow bones' has dominated the perception of what beauty should look like among black women.

The term 'yellow bone' refers to black people who are light skinned, but is commonly used to refer to light skinned women. Due to the idealisation of light skin, women have been forced to go to great lengths to achieve this complexion in hopes of appearing more attractive to the opposite sex. These women employ certain skin lightening chemicals to achieve this pigment.

However, with the influx of unregulated beauty products in South Africa, these women expose themselves to affordable yet risky skin products that could be carcinogens. Upon analysing these actions, one can either locate them in structural forces or base them as individualistic choices. Structurally, South Africa is a victim of historical atrocities of colonialism, racism and apartheid to name a few.

These events left us with a history of self-hate and the challenge to assimilate our former oppressors. Therefore, the idealisation of 'yellow bones' is a vivid example of internalised colonialism in South Africa. Individually, one can assert this as a decision for applying skin lightening products; while extremists, can go to the point of naming the notion 'yellow bone is beautiful' as a fallacy rooted in continuing legacies of colonialism and attack to blackness.

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