She may not be on Twitter anymore but Azealia Banks has found a new platform in the form of Facebook videos to have her say. Banks has always been open about modifying her body, getting breast inplants, plans for a Brazilian butt lift and also skin lightening. Yesterday while cycling in San Francisco, she took time out to record a nine-minute video discussing her decision to lighten her skin.
The knee jerk reaction to the video has already been harsh, but there is something to be said for Banks’ frankness and willingness to openly discuss body modification, which to varying degrees is practiced by most if not all celebrities and increasingly by everyday people whose level fame is limited to their Instagram following. The only point Banks may be missing is how fame heightens the pressure to modify oneself and how that choice impacts those who follow her.
In the video, Banks says that lightening is a coping mechanism and a response to being a woman and a black person in America, stating, “It’s a big part of being a black person in America. I see skin bleaching as another assimilation thing. It’s a continuation of the falsification of self that comes from being a black person in America.”
She emphasizes she has no problem with skin lightening products and processes that “remove a layer,” and categorizes chemical peels, Retin-A and Differin as agents that lighten the skin even if that’s not their original intent.
Banks acknowledges there are skin bleaching products, whether created by high-end companies like Sheishido or bargain brands, containing toxic ingredients that should be avoided. “This world of skin bleaching is a very deep dark world. As I did my research, there is a scale of skin lightening products from really-really high end expensive, nice shit and you see all the way to the bottom of the barrel with the worst ingredients,” explains Banks.
She also views her decision to lighten her skin in part as a woman’s beauty choice, and goes on to compares skin lightening to nose jobs and the long weaves she has worn, which she pointed out no one every complained about. “Blackness is so paradoxical. It’s so many different things. What’s the difference between getting a nose job and changing your skin color? What’s the difference between wearing a hair weave and changing your skin color?” asks Banks, concluding, “There really isn’t a difference.”
Following the post and some lively back and forth in her Facebook comments, Banks added a post (below) writing that everything other than reparations is petty, stating, “Cultural appropriation, who wears what, natural hair, relaxed, bleached or not, NONE of us will be getting any real respect until we’ve been given what we are owed.”