Reality star and mother-of-six whipped off her wig during a heated debate on This Morning about the controversial practice of skin lightening.
British-Cameroonian Irene Major, 38, who says she has used skin-bleaching products for years, appeared on the ITV daytime show in the wake of remarks made by Beyonce‘s father Mathew Knowles, who raised eyebrows when he said his superstar daughter would not be as famous if she had darker skin.
When Irene, who has appeared on the Channel 5 show Billionaire Babies, was challenged by fellow guest AJ Odudu over her reasons for wanting lighter skin, she snapped that she shouldn’t have to listen to someone with ‘fake hair’ telling her how she should look – before suddenly removing her own.
The move, which drew gasps in the studio, also caused a flurry of reaction on social media, with some accusing her of being defensive, and pointing out that AJ was merely saying black women should not feel the way they look makes them ‘commercially unacceptable’.
The TV debate came after the controversial comments made by Beyonce Knowles’ father, who claimed that his daughters – he is also father to singer Solange – wouldn’t be as famous if they had darker skin.
He spoke out about colourism in the music industry, saying that the most successful black females had lighter skin, citing Nicki Minaj and Rihanna as examples.
Discussing the issue of colourism within the black community, television presenter AJ said that, for some, darker people ‘are less beautiful, and the lighter you are you’re more beautiful’.
AJ said she wants beauty standards to change and for black women to feel proud of their heritage, not under pressure to conform, and suggested that for some the issue ‘lies within’.
But Irene, who is married to oil and gas tycoon Sam Malin snapped: ‘For me it’s personal, we are standing here celebrating 100 years of the women getting the right to vote.
‘I am not going to… listen to someone with fake hair on telling me exactly how I should look.
‘You’re Nigerian right,’ she asked AJ who nodded yes, before Irene then snatched her own blonde wig off.
‘Take your wig off, let’s show them Africa!’
AJ defended her decision to wear a wig, pointing out that if she straightened her natural Afro hair, it would look the same.
She added: ‘If you were to go to Africa for a month, it is within the realms of possibility to have dark skin. If we were to move to the North Pole tomorrow it is not in the realms of possibility to get lighter. That is my problem.’
Presenter Holly Willoughby said that people should all be accepting of one another, regardless of skin colour.
But Irene, who has revealed she spends up to £2,000 a year on products to change the colour of her complexion, bit back as the discussion began to heat up – prompting Holly’s co-host Phillip Schofield to label her ‘defensive’.
AJ said the practice of lightening the shade of black women’s skin on magazine covers to make them more ‘commercially acceptable’ is an issue that ‘needs to be tackled’.
AJ then shared her worried over Mathew Knowles’ comments: ‘It is an observation that [Mathew] has detected.
‘What is damaging is that it is dismissive of dark skinned people who want to have a go – it suggests that they have no chance, but they do.’
Cameroon’s @irenemajor is very dramatic. Read the repost from her page below ??? . . ?take this fricking wig off & let’s show them “Africa”? – – @itv itv @itvthismorning ?? This is the way to truly prove your roots . When all you see around you is tanned skins , bleached hair , fake lashes , fake nails & tones of make up .I feel this is the 21st century and it’s patronising to tell somebody how to live their lives and right down to what make up to use . All of us are free to live our lives without being controlled by others . If I wanted to be told what to do , i will move to North Korea . I’m against all under the counter products but women could be educated and make their own decisions as to the risks. I’m tired of having slavery of past century invoque in the skin lightening debate . This is not about the change of slavery but this about the liberty of choice and moving forward . As #michaeljackson Would say “ I’m not going to live my life being a colour “ As a mum of 6 , i stand for freedom of choice and i raise human beings .?? #irenemajor #queenofingress #ingodshands #freedomofchoice #itv #thismorning Wig @faiys_virgin_hair ?