Update: Azealia Banks, who proudly flaunted her use of skin bleaching cream on social media last year, has had a change of heart. "I finally am back to my natural tone," she captioned an October 8 Instagram. "I got curious/desperate and experimented with literally every skin bleaching/lightening/brightening product on the market! Its been a long road but I've finally figured out a good exfoliating/brightening regimen that doesn't look bleachy!!"
Banks, who's six stops deep on her first North American tour, also made a joke about her more glamorous appearance. "Everyone is like : omg azealia I like when u wear makeup cause sometime u look dusty LOL. Do you know that is the actual look of a mad genius !!," she captioned a separate post. "Einsteins hair was never laid. Larry David always looks dusty lol. Plus when I start collecting dust like that then cleaning up all of a sudden you know the music is gonna be goooooood."
Dressed up or barefaced, we're just happy to see Azealia loving the skin she's in.
This story was originally published on July 5, 2016.
Last month, singer and rapper Azealia Banks took to Instagram to share her love of the skin cream Whitenicious, which claims to lighten hyperpigmentation. After receiving thousands of negative comments and tweets from fans, Banks broke her silence in a 21-minute Facebook Live video this past weekend.
In the video above, Banks defends her decision to use the skin-bleaching cream, and even likened the product to wearing a weave, getting a nose job, or any other form of body modification. "Nobody was upset when I was [wearing] 30-inch weaves, tearing out my edges, and doing all types of shit like that," she said. "You guys loved it, but what is the difference?"
Her controversial response, which has garnered over 78K views in four days, has elicited over 2.5K comments, many of which accuse the singer of contradicting her past statements on racism and cultural appropriation. "You say this after all the rants and fights you've been involved in about race and racism," wrote one Facebook user. "I know you have your freedoms and all but... Girl bye ✋ Black is beautiful." Others identified her words and actions as internalized racism.
But there were some who stood up for the musician as well. "How is this any different from tanning...using a tinted moisturizer, using bronzer, [dyeing] hair, straightening or perming hair...?," asked one user. "Everyone who's 'disappointed' needs to answer that question before passing [judgment] on anyone... If we start condemning and psychoanalyzing every woman who alters her appearance, we'll never talk about anything important."
A week before she posted the video above, Banks wrote on Instagram that she is working on an article that discusses the differences between skin "bleaching," "lightening," "whitening," and "brightening."
Banks' video calls to mind a similar case involving Lil' Kim, in which the rapper was criticized for altering herself to appear more white. "I have low self-esteem and I always have," she stated, heartbreakingly, in an interview with Newsweek in 2000. "Guys always cheated on me with women who were European-looking. You know, the long-hair type. Really beautiful women that left me thinking, 'How can I compete with that?' Being a regular Black girl wasn't good enough."
What do you think of Banks' recent statements? Were her words harmful or harmless? Sound off in the comments below.