Sunday, April 12, 2009

Fair & Lovely targets shoppers; insecurity ensues

Skin whitening creams are big business in this part of the world. This was shocking to me at first. I guess I was pretty naive, but the truth is that lighter skin is desired over here and people do odd things to get it.

One of the most popular products (and I often lurk around the display at Lulu Hypermarket, just to see the women and men checking them out) is Fair & Lovely. A commercial plays over here sometimes. It shows a young girl getting ready for a dance competition a month away. She is using Fair & Lovely as well and dancing her heart out, and on the night of her performance, she is clearly a star because of her moves and the lighter tone of her skin. Sigh.

The preponderance of these products is mildly irritating on another level, and that is because it truncates every other line of skin care products. Take Oil of Olay; I can't get my favourite thermal mini-peel here and that's probably because most of their freaking shelf space is taken up by whitening creams and potions.

This is a Fair & Lovely display that was on in Abu Dhabi Mall. I found it disturbing on a number of levels - that one has to be "fair" to be "lovely", for staters – and not least for the creepy "Mirror mirror on the wall" vibe it gave off. I have no idea why these Filipinas are in there.


sean said...

you have just scratched the surface. Fairness is a big deal in Asia, especially India. Just as Caucasians covert for that perfect tan, south-east Asians yearn for that flawless white complexion. If you walked around Lulu, you would have found many south Indians, male and female, with their faces covered with a layer of white talcum powder. There is quiet a bit of "racism" ( for the lack of a better word) towards people of darker skin in India. I remember an instance when the West Indian cricket team landed in India. The players were warming up in the stadium and a crowd had gathered around them. Some idiot in the crowd started shouting out "blackie, blackie, the irony is the fact that the guy who was shouting that was just a shade lighter.

globalgal said...

I live in China. I absolutely agree that it is wrong to equate "loveliness" with being fair, and yes, there is a lot of discrimination against Asians with darker skin. I just don't get that. It is wrong, agreed.

BUT, on a purely personal level, I have never been as comfortable in my own skin than I am since moving to China. I am super-pale. Practically translucent and redhead, so you can imagine the taunting I endured as a child AND as a teen, sometimes even as a young adult in the US. "Ewww, you are soooo white!" is something I never have to hear again. I still get funny looks from North Americans/Europeans on the beaches in Thailand when I am under an umbrella. Can't we all just be?!

Granted, it is extremely annoying to only find facial creams and body lotions with whitening chemicals in them in the shops. I'm white enough!

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