Yellow Fever is a mixed-media documentary animation by Kenyan filmmaker Ng’endo Mukii. The short film, which served as Mukii’s thesis project at London’s Royal College of Art, is a captivating blend of live-action, stop-motion, spoken word, and vibrant hand-drawn animation that explores the effects of Eurocentric beauty ideals, as disseminated by mainstream media and advertising, on African women.
With a runtime of just under seven minutes, Mukii’s film highlights the dissatisfaction that some darker skinned women have with their complexions and the often harmful measures taken in their quest for a lighter skin tone, most notably through the use of skin bleaching products (known in Kenya as mkorogo). Yellow Fever also addresses the trickling down of these beauty standards through generations, with one particularly compelling moment within the film occurring when Mukii’s niece proclaims that she feels a certain discomfort with her dark skin every time she sees her reflection in the mirror.
The award-winning filmmaker shared her motivation behind the animated short saying, “I am interested in the concept of skin and race, and what they imply; in the ideas and theories sown into our flesh that change with the arc of time. The idea of beauty has become globalised, creating homogenous aspirations, and distorting people’s self-image across the planet. In my film, I focus on African women’s self-image, through memories and interviews; using mixed media to describe this almost schizophrenic self-visualization that I and many others have grown up with.”
Watch ‘Yellow Fever’ below. H/T Shadow & Act