Azealia Banks took to Facebook Live to address the controversy around the recent revelation that she bleaches her skin (see the video here).
The rapper put down her tricycle (it’s pink) next to the Hudson river to talk about skin bleaching – or skin lightening, as she puts it.
Here’s what we learnt about skin lightening from Azealia Banks.
‘I consider anything that has to do with removing layers of skin or pigment.. I consider it all bleaching. Or I don’t say bleaching, I say lightening. Some people might be like, I got a chemical peel, that’s not lightening my skin… But it did lighten your skin. It took off all the chocolate chips, and all the shit. Might have had some blackheads caked down in there. Sometimes it gets really caked up… especially travelling and eating bad food, drinking soda and shit like that.
‘Hormones, periods, it just be really caked in. And sometimes you have to do like five peels to get that shit up out of there. And by the time it’s up out of there, your face is lighter than your body, and either you wait for it to go back or put make-up on the rest of your body to make it match the colour, or maybe you lighten the rest of the colour – take off perma tan and stuff. Even stuff like Retin A that can take off layers of your skin and make it look lighter.’
‘I’m all for having things made for me by me. So what if a black person is selling skin bleaching cream… I’d rather buy it from a black person than whoever else I’m buying it from.’
‘There’s a scale of skin lightening. There will be the really really high-end expensive shit, stuff that I’m lucky enough to be able to afford, way down to the bottom of the barrel.’
‘Shiseido, Lancôme, all these companies sell bleach in one way or another. It can be hypocritical for people to jump out and “La la la… shame on you for skin bleaching, shame on you for doing this…” but it is a very very common thing.
It’s all about doing it right and getting the right things so you don’t look like chalk or whatever.’
‘Being a black woman, at least for me, I can forget to be a woman and I get really bent up on blackness and all these unwritten rules on being black. You’ve got to give yourself a break sometimes in knowing that blackness in today’s age is so paradoxical.’
‘What’s the difference between getting a nose job and changing your skin colour? What’s the difference between getting a hair weave and changing your skin colour? Nobody was upset when I was wearing 30-inch weaves and tearing out my edges.’
‘To say that it negates anything I’ve said about the current situation of blackness in America is ignorant and stupid. What do body modifications have to do with someone’s level of intellect. The two don’t correlate. I think it’s petty. It’s contradictory. Especially as so many of our favourite stars have lightened their skin. A lot of times it just happens. You go for a peel and the shit comes off.
‘I would never say Diana Ross is any less of an artist because her skin is lighter. Who cares? That was the style. The seventies disco fever style.’
‘If people were look ing to me to be some sort of messiah for black empowerment and black rights and my decision to bleach my skin or to lightness my skin has made you not believe in me, I would question your priorities. Don’t we as a people have bigger fish to fry then what the fuck am I going to do with my skin or my hair…’
‘Women’s beauty and the women’s world is a different world and a secret world. It’s like a costume. Men do it too. Men get hair plugs and all kinds of crazy stuff. Us women allow each other to slope between these very fresh very cross cultural ideas of beauty. Maybe I might have a butt and put chopsticks in my hair. Maybe a white girl wants to get an arse or a tan… that’s the world it is.
‘Women’s beauty is all mixing up.’
‘I was reading something about the marriage market and skin bleaching. Black women across the world are turing to skin bleaching because of the marriage market and their belief that it is harder to get married as a dark-skinned woman. I don’t think that in this metropolis I live in, NYC, I don’t think it has anything to do with it. In places though where it’s less of a choice and more of a social status, kind of thing, I can see that it can be more of a thing!
‘People try all sorts of shit when they’re trying to win, survive, procreate or what ever we’re here supposed to be doing.’
‘I was reading another article from a psychiatric report. Therapists were trying to come up with a name for skin bleaching disorder – a personality, dissociative, disorder type thing where darker people bleach their skin in an effort to perceive themselves as white or whiter. In my head, I’m reading this and thinking it’s probably two white people writing this and… I dunno…
‘Whiteness, skin bleaching, colourism and all that shit, I think it’s pretty arrogant for a white psychologist or a white scientist to be examining the behaviour of black people after they’re already been oppressed by whiteness and then looking at them through white lenses. They have no point of reference.
‘That’s where I was going when I said ‘whiteness is a mental illness’ that everybody, including myself, is infected with.’
‘How do you hate white supremacy yet you date white men? How do you preach black rights yet you bleach your skin? Or use the N-word? There are certain things that aren’t suppose to reconcile. That’s the paradox of being black in 2016… I don’t know.’
‘I don’t think me rubbing on some bleaching cream or some cake soap is the end of the revolution.’