The shade of one’s skin has for generations determined many things, the fate of a person, sometimes a race, their status in society or if they remained poor or grow rich – it is all in the skin. So isn’t it crucial to know more about something that each one of us possesses (it is the largest organ) and which has taken billions of dollars in trying to maintain it or to change it – from light to dark and the vice versa is also true depending on your complexion. What in the world does man want?
Since time immemorial, people have done so many things to the skin and they continue to decorate it with piercings – ouch; paintings, tattoos – all these are done in a bid to “improve” it. It comes in amazing varieties: from absolutely color free to spotted skin (different shades of colour in various shapes)and freckled (small darker colored spots usually on the face.) From chocolate brown call it cappuccino or ‘coffee with cream shade’ to dark olive, to ebony black (which is increasingly becoming hard to find by the way) like Senegalese model Khoudia Diop’s; all these colour up our world, making it a truly beautiful kaleidoscopic scene of hues and shades of skin tones!
Among other skin uses is the fact that it helps keep us honest. Yes, I wrote honest. When you blush (more blood rushing to the blood capillaries in your face) the entire group of people around you can know your feelings of embarrassment or anger. Now, that is helpful if your skin is light that is. Do dark skinned people blush? Yes, we do because it is a biological reaction for everyone regardless of race. But clearly it is impossible to see because of the skin colour.
However, fascinating our skin may seem to be it is nothing in comparison to some animals and fish which can do amazing feats with their skin. Take an example of the octopus which can see with its skin. When it needs to change its colour and texture, it uses a chemical in its skin and bingo! You cannot see it because it is so similar to the shape and texture of its background. A giraffe is also able to use its skin as an air conditioner. Apparently, the dark spots help in this turning on and off of the heat. O for such a skin as a giraffe!
Lois Nakibuuka is an educator and counsellor