This South African Documentary Explores Skin Lightening Among Women of Color

1 December 2017

Broadcast

Some were just trying to get rid of pimples, while others were succumbing to societal pressures.

Gentle magic 277A Gentle Magic is a 55-minute-long documentary by South African documentary filmmaker Lerato Mbangeni, US journalist Susie Neilson, Graeme Aegerter (producer) and Tseliso Monaheng (co-director).

For the film, which explores skin lightening among women of color, the crew travelled to Cape Town, Johannesburg and some parts of the Eastern Cape. There are interviews with students, artists, salon owners, and prominent figures such as Milisuthando Bongela, editor of Friday, the arts section of the Mail & Guardian.

This variance in voices gives an interesting perspective of how and why rural and urban women prefer their skin lighter. Some were just trying to get rid of pimples, while others were succumbing to the societal pressures that equate looking lighter to being prettier.

The documentary also explores the health implications of skin lightening. Research by Professor Ncoza Dlova, a dermatologist and chief specialist and head of the department of dermatology at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, offers an entry point into the documentary. She's of the notion that it's society that pressures black women to want to appear lighter.

Watch the trailer here.

Read the full article on Okayafrica here.