We are constantly being bombarded with media messages telling us how we should look. We should be thinner, have perfect hair, whiter teeth, even be “cleaner” than we are now. For women of color, the messages are worse. The health and beauty industries has always catered to and promoted the Eurocentric beauty standards. In the recent years, companies have missed the mark with their advertising campaigns. From Shea Moisture to Dove, big brands at the very least are demonstrating that they are racially insensitive. However, they are nothing compared to Nivea’s latest launch.
Skin bleaching has been a widespread issue throughout the Caribbean, Middle East, and Africa. From former MLB Sammy Sosa to African entertainer Dencia, bleaching is being endorsed and praised. Approximate 75% of women in Nigeria, 59% in Togo, 35% in South Africa, and 25% in Mali have admitted to bleaching their skin. Skin bleaching has become such an issue for the continent that governments in multiple countries have stepped in. Ghana and the Ivory Coast have banned skin bleaching creams, and products containing hydroquinone (the active agent in bleaching creams). Still, a facebook friend just shared this billboard that is currently live in Ghana:
Nivea is attempting to capitalize on this by pushing there thinly veiled “substitute’ for skin bleaching. They have already been caught pushing their “fairer is pure” agenda here in the US, but apparently that isn’t enough. The ad is currently being broadcast in Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Senegal.
The ad has quickly drawn controversy and much deserved outrage online.
This is why black businesses need to rise up and cater for our needs. Nivea can’t get away with pushing this skin lightening agenda across Africa. Appalling. pic.twitter.com/8uR7XHNgVa
— William Adoasi (@WilliamAdoasi) October 18, 2017
Former L’oreal spokeswoman Munroe Bergdorf (who was fired for comments referring to white people as racists) took to Instagram to share her thoughts.
This is not okay. #Nivea – Perpetuating the notion that fairer skin is more beautiful, more youthful is so damaging and plays into the racist narrative so prevalent in the beauty industry, that whiteness or light skin is the standard that we should all strive for. Advertisers have the power to change this narrative, but campaign after campaign we see it being used worldwide. Making money out of making people hate themselves is never acceptable. Whitening and lightening creams are not only physically damaging, but also ethically wrong. Empowerment is not too much to ask for. ALL black skin is beautiful, no exceptions, so celebrate us as we are instead of asking us to adhere to unattainable and racist ideals.
What do you think about Nivea’s new ad and “Natural Fairness” product line?