I have known her for a few years now. Beautiful, fairly dark complexioned and never in scarcity of a smiling face, she’s a symbol of what any man who appreciates beauty desires. Then, as often is the case in life, we went our separate ways. For the next couple of years we only exchanged texts a few times.

Fate however brought us together a few months ago and I almost didn’t recognize her! Had the smiles gone? Certainly not! The beautiful face was still full of the old brisk smiles. Only one thing had changed – but that singular change was too obvious to overlook.

Somehow, she had undergone an astonishing transformation from a dark-skinned lady to lightly complexioned one! No, she wasn’t suffering from Michael Jackson’s vitiligo skin disorder. It was a deliberate, premeditated, self-inflicted skin ‘transformation’. Some call it ‘toning’, others call it ‘bleaching’, whatever the right nomenclature is, it’s a practice that has found a widespread approval among the youths, especially the females.

This practice, however comes at a price. Those who bleach their skin stand a higher risk of skin cancer, neurological and kidney damage, damage to the liver, psychiatric disorder, and host of other side effects that come with it.

But beyond any medical harm that comes with the practice, there is a raging mental battle that the ‘bleachers’ are oblivious of. A fight for acceptance and approval of others! Somehow, years of racism seemed to have left a generation of young people suffering from low self-esteem in its wake!

You are defined not by the colour of your skin but the content of your character – the values you cherish, the ideals you treasure, the passion and the purpose burning down inside you!

So don’t feel insecure because of the misconception about the shade of your skin. Skin is just the surface, the real you is deeper than the eyes can see – it’s the love in your heart and the peace in your soul. The hands that made the moon and the stars, the mountains and the seas made you wonderful and beautiful. He didn’t make a mistake when He made you!

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