The Skin You Are In
When this article was first written a couple of years ago, Dr. Queen Blessing had a new book out, 'Dying To Be Thin: Loving Your True Skin', a movie, and a mission to empower young women to become all that God has intended them to be, and be proud of their culture and themselves as God made them.
As a victim of skin bleaching, Dr. Blessing knew all too well the international phenomenon where thousands of young black girls, especially in Nigeria, fall victim to self hatred.
Since that time, Dr. Blessing has gone on to speak at two U.N. conferences in New York, traveled back to Nigeria to receive awards for her global initiatives and her organization, Global Empowerment Network.
Queen Blessing Odegua Itua
Queen Blessing's new book, "Dying Inside: Loving Your True Skin"
Queen Blessing Odegua Itua is a Wellness Ambassador
One of the first things that strikes you about Queen Blessing Itua is her command of the space she occupies. With a statuesque figure, standing at 5'10" tall, and a radiant smile, she is an International Actor/Producer, Inspirational Wellness Author and Speaker.
Additionally, Queen Blessing is the International Adviser-Liaison/Chief of Staff of International Affairs for Georgia State Senator, Donzella James.
Hailing from Nigeria, Queen Blessing now lives here in the United States, after determining to not be a victim any longer of skin bleaching. A practice utilized by young women of color, and especially dark complexions, who feel less worthy to women who are light skinned, or white, because of the way society determines beauty.
Like so many women, Queen Blessing also believed that she was less worthy, but found out that the beauty industry is wrong, and she removed that stigma from her own psyche, and began work as a model and actress, where she has had roles in American films and even co-produced a movie about the skin bleaching phenomena here in the United States, called: Skinned.
In the film, she not only played her real life role as "Dr. Blessing, The Inspirational Wellness Expert," but excerpts of her book, Dying Inside, Loving Your True Skin, were used for the movie that has just been acquired by TVOne, to be aired early 2016.
Queen Blessing has appeared alongside many celebrities, and stars, including the movie, Anchorman 2 with Will Ferrell, as well as worked with Steve Carrell, Paul Rudd, Will Smith, Kanye West, Jim Carrey, Meagan Good, Christina Applegate, Carl Anthony Payne, and Nollywood Stars like Richard Mofe-Damijo, Van Vicker, Benjamin Joseph, Yvonne Okoro, Razaaq Adoti, Tangi Miller, Winstina Taylor.
Internationally, Queen Blessing has worked in Nollywood European films and was a 2015 Hostess and Award winning recipient Cross-Cultural Actress-Author Award, in Frankfurt, Germany, where she was accompanied by Georgia State Senator, Donzelle James.
Ready to Host the Nollywood Awards!
She also has a movie she filmed in Germany that is in pre-production that will be released in 2016, and is now working on a Television talk-show that she would like to have seen in her native homeland of Nigeria, as well as here in the United States.
Her mission through being so visible is to empower families and equip our young generation early in life for a healthier world. She advocates early childhood wellness education necessary for cultivating a culture of wellness early in life, and her new book she hopes will help her accomplish just that.
Dying Inside, Loving Your True Skin is the new book by Health and Wellness Author, Queen Blessing Odegua Itua. A triumphant expose of her life from victim to victor, and her work to empower people to overcome unhealthy skin bleaching practices.
The growing problem of skin bleaching usage by women and men of color has become a global phenomenon creating health risks in people suffering from an excessive need to no longer have dark skin.
Skin bleaching as a cosmetology practice to lighten dark skin tones, unfortunately, is a disconnect from a negative self perception about having dark skin. A negative perception in some societies that reward people with social statuses if they have lighter skin. In many of these countries, lighter skin is preferable and will allow for more acceptability in society.
According to the World Health Organization, nearly 77 percent of Nigerian women use skin-lightening products on a regular basis, the highest percentage in the world.
This is true of Author, Actress and Motivational Speaker, Queen Blessing Odegua Itua, a Nigerian living here in the Southeast, United States.
She knows first hand about the causes and effects of bleaching skin because she was a victim of skin lightening self-abuse.
It is her personal experience with skin lightening products usage that led her to achieve a professional background as a Biochemist and become a board licensed Beauty Expert.
As an entrepreneur, Queen Blessing started her own Blessings Beauty Products, with knowledge of the detrimental consequences of use.
In her new book, "Dying Inside: Loving Your True Skin" Queen Blessing tackles the problems of skin bleaching head on. Written to inform all who have used, or considered using, the many dangerous products in a quest for self-beautification and higher self-esteem.
Back Stage TV work at the Nollywood Awards
As a young consumer of lightening products, Queen Blessing developed adverse health issues. From skin burns, the thinning of her skin, white spots, sun sensitivity, darker-knuckles and joints, Hyperpigmentation (the production of excess melanin causing dark spots on the skin), and Exogenous Ochronosis (black patches on the sides of her face).
She even became dependent on the use of those products, "The prolonged, regular use of skin-lightening products actually does more harm than good over time. I used these products without knowing that the majority of these products have many detrimental consequences."
Queen Blessing made a conscious decision to break her despair about what was really going on mentally for her, and that was putting her at a high health risk for chronic illness.
Widely respected now as the ‘go-to’ International Celebrity Wellness and Inner Beauty expert, Queen Blessing is a state board licensed master beauty expert. A specialist in maintaining and improving a healthy beauty from within.
Her clients not only lose pounds of fat and restore their health, but the women also enjoy improvement in their image and flat abs after babies, affectionately referring to her as the "Fabulous Abs Doctor".
Queen Blessing earned a Biochemistry degree in Nigeria as well as Management and Master of Public Health degrees in the United States. She specialized in holistic wellness and inner true beauty empowerment, lifestyle management, fitness nutrition, and cancer research.
Committed to ongoing professional development and her passion for holistic wellness, Blessing is presently a candidate for Doctorate in Natural Medicines at Quantum University.
She is currently participating in the National Institute of Health (NIH) funded cancer research pilot study with Morehouse School of Medicine where she assesses the lifestyle modification needs and experiences of African- American breast cancer survivors to establish baseline dietary intake, physical activity, cancer risks behaviors
Her educational background in biochemistry, fitness nutrition, public health, and cancer research, ignited her passion for lifestyle modification aimed at chronic disease prevention.
Queen Blessing is using a multimedia approach of bringing inspirational global wellness in an empowerment series, practical prevention strategies, and public health promotion to educate our communities worldwide.
She is an Associate Producer on LisaRaye McCoy-Misick's feature film,"Skinned". A movie about a young woman whose insecurities about her skin color, and misconceptions about beauty in trying to find romance, causes her to bleach her skin beyond recognition that puts her health at risk.
The psychological impact for many people of color to lighten their skin in order to fit in the larger society’s definition of beauty, is now more widespread than ever. Skin bleaching also symbolizes more complex psychological issues such as self-perception and self-esteem issues that have plagued people of color since the advent of international slavery, especially in the Americas.
For instance, African-Americans are often coerced through the mass media to believe that lightening one’s skin through bleaching brings greater acceptance into the larger North American society.
The Nollywood Awards is Germany's equivalent to the United State's Academy Awards
Slavery in this country created a class system amongst African Americans that created a cultural divide that to some extent is still felt to this day. On the plantations, lighter skinned slaves were domestic workers, which afforded them better clothing, housing and food oftentimes. Darker skinned slaves worked hard labor in the fields, and inferior living conditions.
Olanrewaju Falodun, a consultant dermatologist at the National Hospital in Abuja, Nigeria, says use of skin whitening products is based mainly on "wrong" perceptions.
"Light skin is attractive and flashy," Akolawole says. "Dark skin looks dull except in a few cases of those that appreciate the natural black beauty".
Nigerian/Cameroonian Pop Singer, Dencia, promotes a skin lightening product she developed with a chemist called, "Whitenicious". The before and after photos of Dencia's appearance are extreme, and the singer has tried to defend her skin lightening, and product, from the negative message she seems to be sending to the young women she reaches around the world.
A 2014 article in Ebony magazine, Dencia claims that "Whitenicious" is a product solely for the use of lightening dark spots on the skin from blemishes, and discolorations from eczema.
When asked if she thought the use of the name, "Whitenicious", sends the wrong message to those who would use her product, she replied,
"Nah, Whitenicious is good. Ok, let me define how I see white. The color white affects the mind and the body by aiding in mental clarity, promoting feelings of fresh beginnings and renewal assisting in cleansing, clearing obstacles and clutter and encouraging purification. And guess what? Dark spots are obstacles. Hyperpigmenation is obstacles.``
In a Huffington Post interview, Queen Blessing was asked about her thoughts on Dencia's "Whitenicious" product and the white is pure message,
"Quite frankly, this is, sadly, a common line of thought among many young African women. This explains why the skin lightening practice is prevalent among black, immigrant and non-white communities in Africa."
And she's right. Dencia is not the only one lending to product names that perpetuates this stereotype. The cosmetology industry, expected to reach sales of $10 billion dollars in 2015, sell products with names like, "Skin So White," "White Perfect," and "White and Lovely".
In that Huffington Post interview, Queen Blessing goes on to say, "This is a centuries old conditioning that white skin is better than dark skin. This false reasoning that links whitening to more acceptance, success and prosperity, and is considered more desirable. It is even more difficult to reverse the conditioning that these negative stereotypes perpetuate, when media and style icons reinforce it with statements like these."
The Nollywood Awards, 2015
Queen Blessing is empowering young women and families through education and wellness through self-esteem initiatives to bring positive results from the notion that having whiter skin makes one more acceptable in society by equipping our young generation early in life for a healthier world.
"It is our girls today who will become mothers, the nurturers and 'milk-bread makers' of tomorrow. Women play a crucial role and hold the key to winning global wellness"
There are very real usages for skin bleaching products for cosmetic dermatology reasons, but skin bleaching in order to change the tone of darker skin goes to a root problem of self esteem issues that are psychological in nature, and peer driven pressures, based on what is considered beautiful.
Cosmetic surgeon, Dr. Michael Jones, cites that lightening agents are meant to be used on small areas, not the entire body. He says he sees patients on a weekly basis who want to lighten only a small skin lesion or a specific dark mark. "But we don't want you to use this product all over your face, all over your body.'"
While it is true that skin bleaching has become a "crisis" situation in countries like Africa, and in Jamaica, even Asian countries, the effects of it are just as real here in the United States.
Like most mental health disorders in the United States, such as eating disorders that adversely affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of teenagers, skin bleaching is one of those not readily acknowledged practices, making it much harder to track how many people suffer from it. But we do know that mental health disorders, as a whole, have become more prevalent here in America over the last several years.
Queen Blessing Odegua Itua wants people to heal and feel beautiful in the skin they are in.
For more about Queen Blessing and her work, go to: www.queenblessing.com &
The movie poster for "Skinned"
Queen Blessing is an Associate Producer of the new film, "Skinned"
"Many people see skin bleaching as a choice, and refuse to see it like it really is, a mental illness that deserves urgent attention. There is a dire need for health and wellness initiatives that focus on self-love and self-development as well as family, community, government, and leadership involvement."