Beauty and The Bleach: How Patriarchy And Capitalism Conspire To Destroy Ghanaian Women


Bi Kidude

In my previous self I often felt that as a woman it was my duty to be attractive. Like a lifeless exquisite painting meant only to be admired, set in a delightful yet demure exclusive gallery, intentionally picked out by the finest art collectors. My primary purpose was to please aesthetically all those who set their eyes upon me. Until Feminism helped me realize that I was a fuckin’ person. And that people do things, rather than sit there and be pretty.  Feminists have long discussed how sexism imposes upon women the obligation to be desirable to men. Random men, ugly men, irrelevant men and undesirable men falsely believe that their subjective opinion about whether a specific woman is attractive is relevant.  Often times, desirability is a necessary obligation to fill before women are afforded respect as human beings. Such social pressures encourage women to compete with one another to earn validation and affection from men by proving to be the most attractive. However, the quest for self-liberation requires that women gain a sense of worth outside of the subjective perspectives of men, but most importantly outside of the standards of a sexist society as a whole.

Beauty: When Women Need Men To Survive Economically, Men’s Judgments Matter More

In a society where women are denied equitable access to economic resources (via access to jobs/careers), and thus the capacity to be self-sufficient, economic viability is gained through men. Marriage, “sugar daddies”, real daddies, and boyfriends become the ways through which women get money. In such a context, being desired by one’s male partner becomes of utmost importance because it is the primary method through which women get income. Beauty is not a choice that women may embark on, it becomes a necessary requirement for women to eat.  Thus being desirable for men is not just about individual fulfillment and yearning, it becomes a necessary means of survival. In this context, women must find men to marry so that they survive. The more beautiful women are perceived, the higher the likelihood that they can attract men with abundant assets. Such a social context leaves women with little autonomy and at the mercy of men’s subjective opinions about women’s bodies. Once again, the liberation of women in Ghana is contingent on a restructuring of society so women have equal opportunity to sustain ourselves economically.

Bleach: Capitalism Benefits From You Thinking That You’re Broken

The beauty industrial complex is the systematic manner in which women and girls are encouraged to feel insufficient in our own bodies as a means to further capitalistic ventures. Basically, it is making women feel like shit so we can keep buying unnecessary stuff to fill the gaping hole of inadequacy. It is making women feel compelled to shave our legs so that someone can sell us shaving sticks. Making Black women feel too dark, so that markets can sell us bleaching creams. It is making us feel that our hair is so kinky, so that industries can produce relaxers and perming creams. It is selling us make-up successfully because we feel that our natural faces fall short. It is the investment in our self-hatred and low self-esteem, so that profit-maximizing companies can sell us temporary products that we must continue to consume for the rest of our lives. It is a multi-billion bleaching industry that has (1) left Ghanaian women with blotched skin and Cancer and (2) profited from a colonial legacy of white supremacy that taught us that our natural skin was inferior.

Feminist Response: You are Intrinsically Worthy

So Fuck the beauty industrial Complex and choose self-love.  The feminist response to the psychological war on Ghanaian girls/women ( and women globally) is the requirement that we actively seek to love ourselves as an act of self-determinism. Patriarchy’s base is in our heads and in addition to systematic economic, political, sexual, cultural, and social marginalization, women must overcome psychological barriers to self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth.  It requires the recognition that we are inherently valuable, not because we are beautiful or brilliant or useful (even though we are) but because we are alive.

Below is a video of me telling me to love me.


4 thoughts on “Beauty and The Bleach: How Patriarchy And Capitalism Conspire To Destroy Ghanaian Women

  1. I absolutely, completely and ravenously devoured this piece!

    Very well written and in complete alignment with my views on the subject..

    I can only say, deserving of endless retweets. Nothing more to add..


    Liked by 1 person

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