'A Gentle Magic' – An Indie Film About Skin Lightening In South Africa

Lending its name from one of the most popular skin bleaching products in South Africa, A Gentle Magic is a documentary which highlights the complexity of this topic, from male attention to health hazards and self-esteem. The documentary investigates this phenomenon by weaving together people's experiences with scientific studies, history, psychology and anthropology.

(Screenshot: YouTube/Tseliso Monaheng)

After the abolishment of apartheid, South Africa was supposed to become the Rainbow Nation – a country where all backgrounds, beliefs and skin types were accepted and celebrated. However, in some ways, it seems as though the opposite has occurred, with a great case in point being the rampant Xenophobic attacks against Nigerians in South Africa.

Directed by Lerato Mbangeni and Tseliso Monaheng, A Gentle Magic digs all the way into the practice’s roots in South African history. Skin bleaching within any black community is rampant and stems from the preference for a proximity to whiteness. This is not new or random, as even in this day and age, brands such as Nivea still convey this sort of toxic and hazardous message to society

It’s easy to blame colonial and societal messages for etching this form of self-hate into people of color. A Gentle Magic, however, pushes for self-awareness, by highlighting that colorism within the black community enables this, and also reaching the roots of why this happens. 

Check out the trailer here: 

Evil dictator of taste