“White Beauty”

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There are four more segments, but I think we all know how it’s going to go: the (already) beautiful Indian woman will use the Magical Whitening Cream, gaining a “pinkish white glow”; the European woman will reveal her inner petty, jealous self; the Indian woman’s new, whiter skin will re-catch the man’s eye, and they will be passionately reunited. In an airport.

Is Pond’s selling skin cream, or the idea that one race is inherently more beautiful than another? Are we seeing the legacy of British colonialism—European skin tone trying to live atop South Asian faces?

And let’s not forget that where pale skin is common, women spend a fortune on tanning booths and spray-on bronzer. I suppose the grass is always greener, but I would love to see women all over the world realizing that beauty comes in any skin tone. Perhaps even green:

15 thoughts on ““White Beauty””

  1. This made me so sad. As a former teacher I spent so much time in the classroom working with children to appreciate and respect cultural differences. (I had children from Pakistan, India, Iran, Mexico, etc. through the years) Then Pond’s runs an ad like this and I wonder how many children and young women felt the crushing blow to their self esteem.

  2. Thank you for sharing. I find that distressing, and unfortunately it’s been a ongoing issue in Africa for decades. I love my skin wouldn’t want it other way. I hope children can be protected from that kind of influence and media pressure.

    1. Jim, that’s definitely part of the issue. I spent five months living in Ireland—home of many naturally pale people—and it definitely seemed that the most predominant skin color walking around was the orange of fake tanner.

  3. Where I live, there are a lot of British expatriates who tan their skin to a very unhealthy, leathery color. They all seem proud of their tans and seem to think those of us without tans aren’t trying hard enough.

    It seems as though many light-skinned people (certainly those in the U.K.) equate tans with wealth. If you have a tan, you’ve obviously got the wherewithal to travel to sunny countries and the time to lie around doing nothing but sunning. I bet people in countries like India equate light skin with wealth. It’s all so weird and mixed up.

    All colors of skin are beautiful. Shame on Ponds for running this commercial.

    1. I believe that’s true. Mary—that in India light skin is equated to wealth. I’ve never been to South Asia myself, but friends of South Asian heritage have told me that light skin is a sign that one can afford to stay inside, out of the sun. It’s frustrating, from both sides.

  4. I’ve heard that in certain areas of Asia, even before European colonization, darker skin mean lower-class because if you were out in the sun all day, that meant you were a laborer of some sort (farm, whatever), and if you had lighter skin you not only stayed inside, but tended to have parasols to cover you outside, etc. Colonialism added an extra layer to it.

    There’s no video embedded on this post now–it seems to either have disappeared or not shown up despite reloading the page. Do you have a direct link to it?

  5. Weird–now it’s showing up. That is just plain disturbing. Ack! Do they really think that men reject women because their skin is darker??

    I don’t remember where I read this, but it was from someone visiting Hong Kong or somewhere else in China. It was a man, I remember that, and the friends he was visiting warned him specifically how to figure out that he was buying moisturizing cream, not skin whitener. Apparently, whitener is just as big business in some parts of the world as tanner is in our neck of the woods.

  6. Here is a link to a TV commercial for a skinning product being marketed to young teen age girls here in the Philippines-the name of the product is Teen White and their product slogan is “Start Right, Start White”

    here is the link to the commercial on youtube

    This is being shown a lot in the early evenings on soap operas aimed at young women-real insidious

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