‘No Bleach For Me' - Documentary Project by Yana Binaev

  • Yana Binaev

‘No Bleach For Me’ Documentary Photojournalism Project Creative Direction and Photography by Yana Binaev Follow us on Instagram: @nobleachforme | @yanabinaev Visit: www.yanabinaev.com/no-bleach-for-me-project A message from the photographer. ‘No Bleach For Me’ is a Documentary Photography Project focusing on Brown and Black beauty. Where does it come from and why did I do it? It comes from my love and admiration to brown and black women and the passion towards race and gender equality. The idea rose up in my mind on a Summer night in August 2019, on a film screening event curated by the very talented script writer and film director Tomisin Adepeju . The night hosted a few film makers who shared their stories accompanied by a creative and freedom seeking audience, discussing the pictures on the screen. All of the short films screened that night touched the issue of bleaching, one of many unhealthy norms created in our society for the sake of approval. A rule that comes together with many other skin, hair and overall appearance related agendas, all in order to be accepted. This is something that I have always been aware of and yes, was personally affected as well. But only to a certain extent. That night, I witnessed the stories of a few young people for whom the dictated rules of society have not only changed many things in their life but also affected their entire self perception and in many cases created a trauma that is either irreversible or one that will take many years to heal. When in fact, all I see, is beautiful, talented, kind and graceful young black people. That discussion enraged me and after sitting there with a sore throat and worried heart, the words ‘No Bleach For Me’ came to mind. I wanted to create a project that will scream how I felt at that moment and celebrate everything I love so much. I was upset with the world for a very long time but that moment especially, I thought to myself, how can the world not see the astonishing beauty of dark skin? So I decided to make a documentary project about it and called it ‘No Bleach For Me’. The project was initially created with the aim to document 100 women, be published and exhibited. Due to the world entering a lock-down, the process was stopped and after some thoughts, I didn’t want to delay it much longer and as it felt right for me, I decided to close the project on 48 participants and share it with the world. I had a one on one meeting with each one of the stunning in and out women whose portraits are a part of this project. I had the amazing opportunity to meet 48 co-minders, tribe sisters and beautiful on the in and out women and hear their stories. I asked each one of them to think of a quote that they relate to and has a meaning in their journey of growth and transformation, the embracing of self and the becoming of the women that they are. I am grateful to each one for the participants for taking the time to meet with me and share their story. Each one of the portraits is accompanied with their chosen quote. ’No Bleach For Me’ tackles a deep social problem which stands in the programming of young girls of all ages and not only, of course also the society we live in as a whole. It challenges the false necessity for darker skin women to bleach their skin in order to be pretty and accepted by society, because with diversity, that is when we are most surrounded by beauty. Of course, as we know, the problem does not end with programming regarding beauty standards and programming of isolated groups of the population, but comes to a wide and global normalizing of something that, is far from being normal. Young people fall victims to this social programming along with the rest of the society often contributing in negative ways to the experiences and creation of a sense of “otherness” for specific groups of the population. Very sadly, our society lives in a world full of prejudices towards black skin, the beauty of it and the invented propaganda of "The whiter the better, the whiter the purer, the whiter the cleaner etc". A list of prejudices that I, don’t agree with, refuse to accept, or live by. All of these and more ideas dramatically curated in our society and engraved in the brains of so many, created an irreversible ripple effect that negatively affects the self perception of talented and beautiful black boys and girls, taking years to heal before being able to stand strong and believe in themselves. With this kind of programming, our society does no less but robbing young people off their ability to view themselves objectively and with confidence. Those ideas, which are solely convenient to our capitalistic society for certain reasons, create radical consequences on the mental health of many young people and on their ability to navigate their lives. ‘No Bleach For Me’ is a collection of portraits of beautiful women, standing tall, brave and strong, in beautiful attires and prints representing and celebrating the culture. Thank you for reading this far and for showing interest. May we be surrounded by love and acceptance at all times. I hope you enjoy the project and fall in love with each one of the women participants like I did. With Love, Yana

PARTICIPANT NUMBER 1:
Rianne Black-Foster
Jamaican, 26 years old.
Instagram: @ristyle_x
"Your beauty is strong and Powerful".
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 2:
Zoe Crooks
Jamaican, 32 years old.
Instagram: @iamzoejade
"Perception of Reality".
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 3:
Adeola Gbakinro
Nigerian,23 years old.
“Dark is beautiful”.
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 4:
Sia Gbamoi
Sierra Leonean,26 years old
Instagram: @_so.glo
“Woman, phenomenally”.
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 5:
Unique Sibanda
Zimbabwean, 40 years old
Instagram: @unique_sibanda
“Context over content”.
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 6:
Tamara Reid
Black Afro-Caribbean, 23 years old
Instagram: @tamara.s.reid
African American-Jamaican (mum) & St.Vincent (dad)
“Twelve years of age, thinking my shade too dark, I love myself, I no longer need cupid.”
Rap City.
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 7:
Glen Esi
Ghanaian (Fante tribe), 28 years old
Instagram: @glen.cocoa
“I am made the way I am made for a reason, and I have learned to love myself from within”.
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 8:
Funsho Adeleye
Nigerian, 21 years old
Instagram: @funshosworld
“Over the last couple of years, I am on a journey of finding my natural state - the most beautiful version of me”.
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 9:
Hilary Mercy Adeleye
Nigerian, 19 years old
Instagram: @hilaryadeleye
“I am beautiful. But how I look is the least interesting thing about me”.
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 10:
Ini Ayodele
Nigerian, 22 years old
Instagram: @ini_a97
“There is complexities in complexion. But your skin, it glows like diamonds”. Brown skin girl
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 11:
Ainat Duncan Berry
Jamaican (Fun fact- born in Israel), 20 years old
Instagram: @ainatdarling
“Even if it makes other people uncomfortable, I will love who I am”. Janelle Monae
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 12:
Josephine Otuagomah
Nigerian
Instagram: @jmotg
“I am fearfully and wonderfully made”.
(Psalms 139:14)
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 13:
Grace Otuagomah
“Same skin that was broken, be the same skin taking over”.
Brown Skin Girl
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 14:
Tihara Smith
Jamaican and St. Lucian, 22 years old
Instagram: @tiharasmith
“I am who I am.”
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 15:
Paige Bates
Jamaican, 22 years old
Instagram: @paigebates_
“Though she is little, she if fiery.”
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 16:
Fay Bates
Jamaican, 64 years old
“I am Black and I am Proud.”
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 17:
Estelle Uba
Nigerian, 19 years old
”Embrace your complexion, because there is only one you”.
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 18:
Abrehet Semra
Eritrean, 19 years old
“I am strong, powerful, kind, patient, determined, beautiful, important, supported, loving and loved. In other words- Black.”
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 19:
Siobhan Brangman
Bermudian, 31 years old
Instagram: @je_suis_sio
“When she finally realizes she is a diamond, no one can ever make her feel like a rock again”.
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 20:
Jasleen Hundle
Indian, 26 years old
Instagram: @j_hundle
”I have acquired the power of owning my skin and loving my beauty”.
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 21:
Hollese Britton
Jamaican, 34 years old
Instagram: @hollese
“Our skin is beautiful, our skin is diverse and our skin has worth”.
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 22:
Nia Raye
Congolese and Angolan, 22 yeas old
Instagram: @_itsnia
“Don’t let anyone tell you that your skin is too ‘dark’. Your skin is golden, your skin is astonishing, your skin is perfection”.
Original poem
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 23:
Wadzi Pasipamire
Zimbabwean, 24 years old
Instagram: @wadziiiee
“I am dripping melanin and honey. I am Black without apology”.
Upile Chisala
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 24:
Ruvimbo Lorraine Makumbe
Zimbabwean, 24 years old
Instagram: @ir3ign
“I can own my skin always”.
icanalways.co.uk
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 25:
Theresa Wahu Macharia
Kenyan, 21 years old
Instagram: @theresamacharia
“Blackness is multifaceted”.
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 26:
Princess Olowogboye
Nigerian, 20 years old
“Her value is more precious than jewels and her worth is far above rubies or pearls”.
Proverbs 31: 10
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 27:
Jessica Gyaduwah Debrah
Ghanaian, 28 years old
Instagram: @jd_lwig
“Never be afraid to free-fall, don’t let the dim your shine”.
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 28:
Jodine Rianna Williams
Jamaican, 27 years old
Instagram: @shot_by_jo
“My hair defines me”.
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 28:
Jodine Rianna Williams
Jamaican, 27 years old
Instagram: @shot_by_jo
“My hair defines me”.
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 30:
Panzu Sarah Mputu
Congolese, 24 years old
“She is clothed with strength and dignity; She can laugh at the days to come.”
Proverbs 31:25
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 31:
Angela Mofondo
Kenyan, 31 years old
"She can".
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 32:
Frances Para-Mallam
Nigerian, 30 years old
Instagram: @create_irl
"The journey to freedom".
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 33:
Chloé-Inès Guemra
Algerian and Ivory-Coastian, 29 years old
Instagram: @lovemesomecherry
“My goal is to fall in love with everything that I am”.
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 35:
Johanna Yaovi
Mum- Beninese & Togolese.
Dad- Italian & Polish
29 years old
Instagram: @johanna_yoo
“Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t do”.
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 36:
Dominique Ogunlowo
Nigerian, 22 years old
Instagram: @foodwithdom
“Always do your best, and when you can’t, leave the rest”.
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 37:
Anjali Ramachandran
Indian, 38 years old
Instagram: @anjali28
“What matters is not the color of your skin, but the strength of your soul”.
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 38:
Raakhi Vadera
Indian, 29 years old
Instagram: @raakhitanvimakeup

stand
on the sacrifices
of a million women before me
thinking
what can i do
to make this mountain taller
so the women after me
can see farther

legacy- rupi kaur
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 39:
Ijeoma Oligboh
Nigerian, 27 years old
Instagram: @ijeobi
"Do not live someone else's life and someone else's idea of what womanhood is. Womanhood is you. Womanhood is everything that's inside of you. For beauty is truth, and truth is beauty." -Viola Davis and John Keats.
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 40:
Cassie Addai
Ghanian, 28 years old
“People say it is only hair but embracing my natural Afro four years ago has made me feel so much more comfortable in my skin and my identity, my only wish is that I would have had the confidence to do it sooner”.
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 41:
Subreena Charlemagne-Odle
Bajan and St Lucian, 40 years old
“You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise”.
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 42:
Karen Aloba
Nigerian, 24 years old
Instagram: @karamel_maiden
“If we don't address our trauma, it does not go away”.
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 43:
Bria Woods
African American & Native American descending from the Osage tribe
25 years old
Instagram: @_awalkinthewoods_
”Beauty is health, and health is wealth. My body is my temple and I feel most beautiful when put the health of my mind, body and spirit above vanity”.
1 Peter‬ ‭3:3-4‬
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 44:
Steffi Igbinovia
Nigerian, 19 years old
“I stand tall, embracing my race and melanin”.
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 45:
Michaela Blackburn
Ugandan and Jamaican, 22 years old
Instagram: @michaela_blackburn
“I got a pure soul, I don’t do the hate You don’t worry ‘bout fittin’ in when you custom made” Views | Drake
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 46:
Daisy Divine
Ugandan, 23 years old
Instagram: @daisyxdivine
"You can try to fix something but you can't fix what you can't see. It's the soul that needs the surgery."
Pretty Hurts
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 47:
Renee Jackson
Dominican and Jamaican, 23yo
Instagram: @reneejacks
"And may your skin glisten in the sun".
PARTICIPANT NUMBER 48:
Ngalula Beatrice Kabutakapua
Italo- Congolese, 33 years old
Instagram: @bea_storytellingcoach
”Each of us inhabitants of this earth is other for someone else”.
R. Kapuscinski