The dancehall artist shocked her fans by debuting a much lighter look last week
Just over a week later, after the release of her new mixtape, she’s confirmed that it was all a part of an elaborate plan to draw attention to the issue of colourism within the black community.
“On October 22nd I posted a picture of myself where i looked like I altered my appearance and metamorphosis to match the ‘Eurocentric beauty standards’,” she wrote in a post on Instagram. The caption accompanied a picture where the singer was her usual darker skinned tone, sat in a throne with a crown on her head.
She added: “While it appeared as if I had ‘bleached’ my skin, causing a worldwide debate, and even though the picture was obviously birthed around my single titled ‘Black hypocrisy’ and my mixtape Captured, I want to openly say it was not a “publicity stunt”. I wanted to create awareness to ‘Colorism’ (sic) and it was more so done intentionally to create shock value so that I could have the worlds undivided attention to deliver the message in my music.”
“Would the message in my song have been received as well as it did world wide if I didn’t go to the extreme with the picture? The truth is no it would have probably been just another Spice hit song; so yes I had to go the extra mile to ensure my message be heard.”
This explanation sounds exactly like the definition of a publicity stunt – even so, it’s a worthwhile one, shedding light on a topic that plagues the African diaspora and other cultures impacted by colonisation and white supremacy.
While pretending to have bleached, the Love and Hip Hop star broadcasted an interview live on Instagram Live with Billboard’s reggae writer Patricia Meschino. She told the journalist that she deals with colourism “everyday of (her) life” since becoming prominent in the dancehall scene. “I get it from everyone.” she explained. “Even your own people. I’ve never been called out for the colour of my skin from a Caucasian person. It’s your own that doing it. It was important to reclaim that. I’m proud to be black.”
A few days later she dropped the single “Black Hypocrisy” which shot to the top of the US reggae chart.
Even if none of it was real, by debuting a dramatic new look, she brought attention to a growing industry. In 2017, the skin lightening industry was worth $4.8bn (£3.4bn) worldwide, and it is predicted to rise to $8.9bn in 2027. In some countries like Nigeria up around 77 per cent of women use skin lightening products.
Watch her single “Black Hypocrisy” below.