‘Black doll outsells Barbie in Nigeria’ should be the news equivalent to ‘wool hats outsell bikinis in Siberia’. In a logical world, it's a total non-story. But the tale of Queens of Africa, a line of black dolls created by Taofick Okoya, has gone viral having recently featured on the websites of the Daily Mail, the Independent, Elle, and MTV. What is it about these dolls that has captured the hearts and imaginations of so many? Is the David vs Goliath narrative fuelling the story's popularity, or the fact that a gross aberration of logic, upheld for far too long, is finally being corrected?
Those with fair skin go further. That’s the troublingly powerful message that my industry transmits. The entertainment industry disproportionately projects and elevates light-skinned women in magazines, films, music and commercials. If there’s a fair girl in it then it’s most likely she’ll be the lead – affluent, attractive, desired, rich and successful. I am not against light-skinned ladies being centre-stage or in the spotlight. I have personally used fair-skinned dancers and backing singers in my videos and live performances, not because of the shade of their skin, but because they had the right talent for the project. In an ideal world, opportunity should always come down to how good you are at what you do, not how light your skin is. Yet this ‘fair girls go far’ belief is so deeply engrained in Africa’s entertainment industries that a generation of impressionable young people are being driven to seek brighter futures by lightening their skin.