Pond’s White Beauty.

More from Unilever, makers of the Dove range and pushers of smoothified, hairless, almost-average-sized, cellulite-free “self-esteem” alongside Slim-fast and Axe/Lynx:

Did you know that Pond’s “White Beauty” cream, pushed in India, Korea and Malaysia, is part of Unilever’s “international stable of skin lightening products”? That the “Pond’s White Beauty Detox range that gives a visibly illuminated and nourished pink glow”? That it “neutralizes the effect of darkness-causing impurities found in the environment and reduces accumulated melanin, thus giving a smooth, pure and bright skin”?

So there you go. Dark skin = dull, un-nourished, impure, rough, toxin-ridden, burdened with excess accumulated melanin. Toxic dark skin holds you back in your relationships and career (the Fair & Lovely campaign, another Unilever brainchild, goes into that further).

And the name. The name. Could they be any more blatantly, unapologetically racist?

Pond’s also peddle the “Double White” range. I can’t translate this or this, but the message is loud and clear.

Categories: culture wars, gender & feminism, social justice

Tags: , , ,

8 replies

  1. Shit.
    My (obviously Caucasian) wife had a stand-up row with an Asian-looking lady in a chemist-type place over one of these whitening products. Along the lines of “Why in the name of all that’s holy would I want to put bleach on my face?”
    Oxidation aside, yeah; it’s broken.

  2. meanwhile, white people don’t want to be white or pink, instead pay to spray-paint themselves brown…

  3. Why is this necessarily evidence of racism? As Gianna observed, a common Caucasian interpretation of beauty is to have skin that is a golden brown colour. To my knowledge, this is not the result of the racist idea that those with Arabic heritage are superior. It is simply an impression of what constitutes beauty in many Caucasian societies, however misguided that may be. Similarly, many Asian societies seem to see white or pink skin as beautiful. Why is this interpretation of beauty any different?
    As I see it, the provision of cosmetic bleaches and solarium services are a more harmful cosmetic equivelent of providing hair straightners to people with curly hair and curlers to those without. It’s a way of catering for those who want what they don’t have, nothing more.

  4. Promoting white skin to nonwhite women reinforces racism, because it’s racism in the first place that considers dark skin inferior to white skin. In many nonwhite countries, people who are lighter-skinned and who have white heritage are wealthier and more privileged than those who do not.
    White people who think that bronze skin makes them “tan” and beautiful, are not trying to look like nonwhites. I’d even add that the idea of “tan” is rather white-centric – there are plenty nonwhites who have “tan” skin (i.e. browner or yellower than a northern European) whether or not we actually tan ourselves, and there are some nonwhites who are very dark-skinned and don’t get “tan” even if they are in the sun a lot.
    Racism aside, exalting white skin is classist and sexist. Classist because in the olden days, it was considered beautiful because only pampered rich women could stay indoors and peasant women had to work outside in the fields. Sexist because women who are confined indoors are considered high-status and ideal.

  5. Oh and about hair – I’m not black and I’m from a stereotypically straight-haired race, but I think that black women would probably have a lot to say about the politics of hair …

  6. Maelenna,
    In India colourism is tied to caste privilege and class privilege. Historically, the Indigenous populations of India had much darker skin than invading/colonising populations. Colonising populations took up higher tiers in the caste system, stigmatising darker skin, amongst other aspects of Indigenous society.
    Moreover, India’s history of British colonialism has had a profound effect on the valuing of skin colour. In other parts of the British empire, the colonising class instituted colourist systems of racial classification to control the colonised populations.
    Finally, these skin-lightening products are much more dangerous than many tanning products (possibly with the exception of solariums, which can cause cancer). Along with a whole range of pharmaceuticals that are tested in the Third World, the marketing of these products is exploitative of Third World women. The fact that the most dangerous of all cosmetics/pharmaceuticals are marketed to/tested on people of colour is also what makes this whole thing racist.
    Please don’t use “Caucasian” when you mean white. “Caucasian societies” are those between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea (i.e. the Caucasus). It is only mythology which suggests that all white people originate from that region.

  7. L.M.:

    Oh and about hair – I’m not black and I’m from a stereotypically straight-haired race, but I think that black women would probably have a lot to say about the politics of hair “¦

    There was the recent “political hair” episode, where a Glamour Magazine editor said, about dreadlocks and afros:

    “No offense, but those ‘political’ hairstyles really have to go.”

    “White” hair is considered “normal”, the default; natural hair for African-American women is considered to be a “political statement”, as they’re choosing not to torture themselves into the appearance of whiteness.
    The torture, expense, and time required to keep A-A hair straight bears absolutely no relationship to curling straight hair. The political pressures and social sanctions are in no way comparable either. You can’t just magic the wider power and privilege relations out of beauty culture.
    Lots more at monicajackson :

    After living in a toxic environment for generations, it’s not hard to believe that some of us don’t think much of our black selves either.
    “Then the grease was carefully applied to your hair and that comb sizzled through the kinks till it was bone straight, hissing as you prayed the comb didn’t touch your scalp.”
    The burns hurt like hell. And you can’t say anything or your grandma or great-aunt will knock you upside the head with a brush, and that will hurt worse.
    The Acid lye or no-lye relaxers aren’t much better.
    “. . . see how long you could leave the vile-smelling chemicals on to achieve maximum straightness before your scalp started to peel, burn and get open sores.”
    Yep, I was to accept, as many black women do, that my natural hair looked bad. In other words I was to accept I was ugly and inherently inferior to any woman with naturally straight hair.

    and pamspaulding (read the whole thing):

    Black people had been told for centuries that we were ugly, from the top of our nappy hair to the bottom of our bad feet. Yes, we felt bad about our natural hair, and there was not bullshitting about it either.
    So, we all hated our hair. There was not bullshit back then because a spade was a spade. It was understood as a common sense type thing that if you were going to take a searing hot piece of metal to your head to alter it then it wasn’t because you thought your natural hair was fly. And oh yes, white girl hair was the goal. No bullshit, no diggedy, no doubt.
    That is how relaxer came to be all over the shelves of the ghetto. Accomodating our need to be a little whiter.


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