Author Archives: Oluwatobi Oshodi

Course Reflection

Oluwatobi Oshodi

WGST 1001

Professor Ashton

December 20 2021

Personal Reflection 

To begin with, I took this class to fulfill a requirement. However, after a few meetings I began to love the energy and connection this class came with. As a senior in Brooklyn College, I’ve had many professors but Professor Ashton stands out. Apart from being a professor she took the time to get to know her students, did multiple check ups and found a way to make the class engaging. Coming into the class, I felt like the class would be just readings and essays. Although there was a lot of reading, Professor Ashton made the whole class seem like it wasn’t a class. Although she’s grading us, Professor Ashton allowed us to have a voice in our grades.I learned quite a lot in this class. It made me think deeper about certain things and not just look at things lightly. Although I hate speaking in public or in class, speaking in this class seemed normal. I felt comfortable enough to voice out my opinion whether it made sense or not. 

For my blog post, I did research on bleaching. As a young Nigerian lady, I see bleaching a lot in my community. When I see those who do it, I used to look down on them for not loving themselves enough. However, because of this class I dug deeper and saw the reasons. This class allowed me to see the root of bleaching and why people did not. After the things I discovered I realized that the blame on bleaching is not on those who do it but society and the company who creates bleaching cream. Before working on my paper, this class allowed me to sit down and think about things that are affecting the society I live in. Bleaching has become a nationwide thing for women and men nowadays. 

When working on the group project, it took a lot of patience. This is because people have different ideas, different ways of doing things. One of the good things about the project was that Professor Ashton was literally always there. She was there for us to reach out to, seek advice and motivate us. For the group project, my group worked on high heels. We were quick to pick different subtopics to talk about within the topic without engaging in other group members’ ideas. Being in a group is not always smooth, however my group found a way to deliver. I decided to talk about the origin of high heels because I found it fascinating. I love wearing heels although it hurts after a few hours, it still makes me feel empowered and strong. Through research I got to know that it was actually men who created and wore heels before women got it. I found it particularly interesting that when women started wearing heels that’s when people negatively perceived it and felt like it was too much. However, when men like King Louis XIV wore heels, it was magnificent and powerful. People loved when those with power wore heels because it represented wealth and power. However when heels became a women thing, it was seen as out of style, dramatic and too feminine. This only emphasized how women are not seen as strong as men. It is clear that in society, women and men are not seen as equals. 

From other classmates’ blog posts, I was able to learn quite a few things too. Each person spoke on different things going on around the community, whether people know about it or not. In this class, I loved how many classmates felt comfortable and engaged with each other. I’ll like to take this opportunity to call out Mildred who helped me throughout this semester for this class. Sometimes when I’m confused about certain things and reach out to her, she is always there to help. This class allowed some of us to form bonds. I really enjoyed this class. There are certain things that have been said in this class that I will continue to take with me everywhere. Finally I would like to thank Professor Ashton, for not only being a wonderful professor, but also someone a student can reach out to. Thank you for being understanding and genuinely caring about your students. I am super glad that I took this class. It did not feel like a class, however I still learned a lot. It made me realize some things about myself. This class also made me change my perspective on certain things around me, making me more open minded.

Skin: Beauty or War

For centuries, skin bleaching has been the “it factor”. Skin bleaching is very popular in Nigeria, it is what is trending for both men and women. Many people have different reasons for why they bleach, however it all comes down to society and it’s pressures. Some places, like Nigeria emphasize on being light skin. The lighter tone men and women are always preferred. When watching old Nigerian movies, one can tell how harshly dark skin women were treated. Most women at the time, or even now still feel like being light skin can only help them, whether it’s on the topic of love, work, and being social. 

Skin bleaching is mainly popular in African, Caribbean, and Asian countries.  A 2009 global analyst report showed that the skin bleaching industry was worth $10 billion, rising to $23 billion in 2020. The world health organization also reported that 77% of Nigerian women use skin lightening products regularly, Togo women at 59%, South Africa at 35%, Senegalese women at 27%, and Malian women at 25%. These percentages show how deep skin bleaching is affecting beauty standards. 

Bleaching has become not just a want, but a necessity for some. Nigerian women will rather struggle to look for money to buy bleaching products than money for food. It is an addiction that has taken over the minds of thousands of people, having total control over them. Many people do not see anything wrong in preferring light skin over dark skin, it’s just a norm to some. Some people resort to skin bleaching because of hyperpigmentation, vitiligo, or other skin conditions. However once the situation is taken care of, it is hard for some to stop using the bleaching products. From there, they are hooked on it for life. 

This ideology of light skin being better than dark skin did not just come out of nowhere. The act of colorism dates back to slavery where the dark-skinned slaves had to work outdoor- in the fields. Whereas, the light skinned slaves were indoors, closer to their masters. White people saw light skin slaves superior to dark skin slaves because they were closer to the pale complexion.

  Although it is very popular now, skin bleaching can be traced back to the ancient  Egyptians, and Greeks. These civilizations used honey and olive oil to lighten their skin. The Greeks also used vinegar and white lead. Relating to these, women use ceruse, arsenic wafers or products that contain lead and mercury. These products are extremely poisonous, but people still use them to get a paler look. Now in modern day, there are various skin bleaching agents such as creams, soap, chemical peels, pills, or even laser therapy. 

Although people are made aware of the effects of skin bleaching it is still popular. Skin bleaching can cause life threatening illnesses like kidney failure, lung damage, and increased probability of getting skin cancer. If all of this sounds bad, then why do people still use it till today? 

Some people do not see anything wrong with it because being lighter makes them more desirable to others, it gets them the attention they need. Skin bleaching or colorism isn’t just affecting Africa, it’s worldwide. I remember in middle school there was the light skin VS dark skin period. This mentality also dates back slavery and colonialism. Even till today, some men prefer to only date light- skin women. It is sad that in 2021, people are still experiencing this. In 2020, Netflix released a movie called Skin starring Beverly Naya. The movie focused on colorism and exposed how and why some people bleach their skin. However, the movie in a way condenses the women who bleach. It puts blame, and judges those who bleach, which in a way is ignorant and turns a blind eye on the actual reason people bleach. Not being light skin in Nigeria makes dark skin women handicapped. Not for adults, but it happens among children too. At school, peers call each other ugly because they’re dark skin, making the ideology continue to live on. However, it is not their fault. In a way, those that bleach their skin can be seen as victims. Victims of society and its pressures, they can’t be blamed. Judging those that bleach will not help the problem, but informing them about the effects of bleaching. When how you look is deemed unacceptable or ugly, you almost do not have a choice but to conform to society’s standards. Societal standards have lowered people’s confidence, and ideas for the true meaning of beauty. 


Adamu, N., & Said, A. (2019, March 21). Colonialism and the origins of skin bleaching. Wellcome Collection. Retrieved November 20, 2021, from 

Adamu, N., & Said, A. (2019, March 28). The desire for lighter skin. Wellcome Collection. Retrieved November 20, 2021, from 

Santos-Longhurst, A. (2019, July 22). Skin bleaching products and procedures: Side effects and benefits. Healthline. Retrieved November 20, 2021, from 

Naya, Beverly. Skin. 2019