The purpose of skin bleaching or whitening is supposedly to lighten darker areas that have formed on the skin. The products are meant to improve small scars, age spots and other pigmentation problems. These products hinder melanin, which is a dark brown or black pigment that exists in the skin. Now even though this may be the reason why these products are produced, people use them for different reasons and they are also promoted for different reasons. One reason individuals use skin bleaching or whitening products its not to better their skin, because they have had some kind of pigmentation problem, but because they associate whiteness with beauty. Around the world people are using skin whitening products to lighten their skin tone because they feel that darker skin will not allow them to enter into mainstream society.
Apparently global cosmetics companies like Avon, Garnier, Body Shop (?!) and Vichy (advertisement above) are taking on longtime market leader Fair & Lovely to cash in on the common perception on the Subcontinent that the lighter a woman’s skin, the better her life will be. In fact, you could call the “perfect”,Wonder Bread-complexion just another weapon in the war against gender inequality!
I took a course last semester and there was a presentation on this specific topic. The ladies presenting spoke about skin whitening in India and how it has become so imbedded into the Indian society, so I went online and I found a commercial which I will share. There were several commercials and all had the same goal. Their goal was to not only promote the product but to show that by using this product people’s lives will change. People will become more successful, more beautiful, and more loved by their loved ones, just by making their skin a lighter tone. The commercial I choose is directed towards men. Now I choose this specific one because these industries are not only targeting woman, but they are also targeting men.
It is incredible how this ideology still exists, and not just in America but all around the world. Here in the United States even though white is seen as beautiful, commercials such as this one are not seen on television. Manufactures, known in the U.S, such as Olay, Garnier and Ponds are creating these whitening products. They may be sold in the U.S but are not promoted as openly as in these other countries. The idea of white being beautiful does not only exist on American soil but it has become a universal standard of beauty, a standard that is making millions a year.
I feel that the fact that these ideas still predominate what characterizes beauty is a major indication that race issues are far from being solved. The idea of black as beautiful only came into the media not too long ago, and in these other countries this idea may not even exist. Overall i feel that if we want things to change, in relation to race, we have to change or alter these old racist ideologies. After so much struggle and strife blackness is still inferior to whiteness. As Audre Lorde once said, ” The masters tools will never dismantle the masters house.” We have to start looking at blackness for what it is, an equal to whiteness, as beautiful as whiteness.