KHARTOUM (Reuters)-- At the crowded Beauty Queen parlor in Sudan's capital Khartoum, beautician Selma Awa says she just cannot understand why so many of her clients want to get their skin lightened.
"One hundred percent of women who come here have it done," she said. "People think it's prettier to look white. In my opinion, dark is prettier. I don't know who they want to look like."
In many countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia lighter-colored skin is considered prettier and paler women are believed to be wealthier, more educated and more desirable.
This attitude has led to a boom in the use of skin-lightening products in Sudan, a vast country torn by war where skin color also has political connotations.
When I traveled to Haiti, I noticed that even the citizens of that country were highly attuned to the shades of one another's skin tone. Those with lighter skin were more socially mobile than others. Originally, slaves who bore the children of their French masters were often more favored, and their children formed a wealthier social strata than their fully African cousins.
Blogger BlackLooks writes of this phenomenon:
On one level I have some small degree of sympathy for women who use these products. Sympathy for the apparent dissatisfaction with their bodies that drives them to waste time and money on useless products. On the other hand their vanity, self hate and inferiority complexes makes them victims of advertising and consumerism and for this I have no sympathy whatsoever.
I can't vouch for her opinions on the so-called "Qana massacre", but I agreed with what she had to say about skin lightening. I just think it's interesting that no-one of any skin color seems content with what they got. What is it about human nature that makes us want to be something other than what we are?