Featurism in Africa: A Growing Epidemic

Many of us are familiar with colourism, but not featurism. For those who may not know, colourism is discrimination against people with darker skin tones. While colourism has been a grievous issue around the world, sadly including Africa, featurism has shown its ugly face too. Colourism and featurism may seem closely connected, they are in different categories.

What Is Featurism?

Featurism is referred to as “a prejudice towards individuals with certain features and a preference towards those with features that correlate with a set beauty standard.”
Have you taken the time to analyze the fashion runaways? You might have realized that while the dark-skinned models have their field day, those with European features often take the center stage.
Each time we scroll down our internet feeds, many of us unconsciously do not see a pattern. Sometimes, the Afrocentric features are displaced for the chocolate features. Chocolate models often dominate advertisements for those whose preference is black. Many African models are biracial and possess bigger lips and bigger noses. Often, those with larger noses, tighter coils, and larger hips tend to be left behind from mainstream projects.

Even Africans practice featurism, leaving us with no option to surrender to the situation. While we fight against colourism, we end up practicing featurism. Self-hatred in our communities is real and can be seen easily in many industries, especially the entertainment and fashion sectors.

Why is Featurism a problem?

Imagine getting all the accolades online and having none in real life. That’s when you wonder about the type of black that people love as beautiful.
Our facial features are often used as an indicator of ethnicity including skin colour. This has set the standard for what it means to be beautiful. We have witnessed when fair skin is preferred over dark skin. That has been a demon the world gave birth to and today, featurism. No matter how pretty you think you are, in some industries, you are not considered beautiful or ideal for a job.

Many African women have found doors shut behind them because of featurism. We have witnessed mixed breed taking over jobs in some sectors over the pure breed. Sometimes, we wonder what beauty means in our world today.
Featurism has become a growing social term that allows societal preferences over certain features. This leads to discrimination. Do not think that featurism is only for Hollywood and other entertainment industries; it happens in our everyday life, especially on social media platforms.

Often featurism breeds contempt and different forms of microaggression, which is closely related to racism. Until we quench the thirst for featurism that is ravaging our society, things might not be great for those who deserve some jobs. Most qualified people for a job will lose it to the less qualified.

Africa has come of age to stand against challenges like this. Colourism and Featurism are staring boldly at us to chase them out of our lands. However, it will take the support of everyone including the government of every country to solve the menace.