Friday, October 20, 2017

White is right according to Nivea

Nivea has created “Natural Fairness”, a body care line promising to restore and enhance fair skin.
The West African television advertisement features Nigerian beauty queen Omowunmi Akinnifesi, who applies the lotion to “visibly lighten” and “care” for her skin—as if a lighter skin were a mark of health, youth and prosperity. In the ad, graphic effects show the model’s skin lightens as the lotion passes over it.
"I need a product that I can really trust to restore my skin's natural fairness," a black woman narrates in the television spot, with her skin literally transforming into a lighter shade as she applies the cream to her body. "Now, I have visibly fairer skin, making me feel younger."
The advert is just the latest in decades of mass-media messaging to people of color that their darker skin tones are unacceptable, and what they should be aspiring to is a superior white skin. This form of racism has so been internalized that even when most big brands have tried to embrace ethnic diversity, consumers in Africa and Asia spend billions of dollars on harmful skin bleaching products. ivea could have advertised for clearer skin, or an even skin tone, or just plain healthier skin, which would all be less racially charged. It appears that Nivea is cynically tapping into the same insecurity that boosts skin-bleaching sales in emerging markets.
This isn’t the first time Nivea’s ad campaigns have offended people of color. In 2011, Nivea was forced to apologize for advertisement that saw a black man discarding an Afro, with the tagline “re-civilize yourself.” The embarrassment from that incident seemed short-lived as Nivea once again released a racially insensitive advertisement. Earlier this year, Nivea directed a deodorant ad to its Middle East customers with the tagline “White is purity.”
 In the Philippines, Nivea’s Extra Whitening Cell Repair & Protect Body Milk offers “fair skin” even after exposure to sunlight. There is also a range of other Nivea products in the Philippines promising to whiten skin.

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