By Guest Contributor Jen Wang, cross-posted from Disgrasian
One year I vacationed in Mexico and spent the entire time in the water, body surfing and boogie boarding. My skin got really dark, which I don’t care about one way or another, though I am afraid of sun damage and skin cancer, in that order. I made one mistake that trip though, and it wasn’t forgetting sunscreen (always, always remember sunscreen). My mistake was going to see my grandmother right after. The first thing she said, once she got over the shock, was “How did you get so dark?!” For the rest of the visit, she introduced me to her friends as “My Granddaughter-Who’s-Normally-Not-This-Dark.”
Light skin is still prized in Asia for a number of reasons that have to do with longstanding notions of race, class, and gender. Good thing then, that there’s a booming market for skin whitening creams, many of them manufactured by Western companies! And good thing the companies who make these creams also make commercials, because quite a few of them–beyond their creepy, disturbing premise–are kinda hilarious.
1. Skin Whitening For Young Girls
There’s this commercial for SkinWhite Teens, produced by Filipino company Splash Corporation, a skin whitening product designed specifically for young girls:
Even creepier was the viral video contest SkinWhite introduced as part of its ad campaign, which asked girls to hold a bottle of SkinWhite Teens like a mic while singing “Brand New Me.” The winner was promised a spot on a TV show. Here’s a sample audition video:
MESSAGE: The song states it all too clearly–white is “right.”
2. Skin Whitening For (Almost) Curing Gayness
This commercial was also targeted to the Philippines, but the product’s made by Pond’s.
MESSAGE: White skin is so powerful it can even make The Gay straight.
3. Skin Whitening For All The Single Ladies
The next commercial is also from Pond’s and part of an ad campaign that sells skin whitening through a soap opera-like series of spots where Girl-Gets-Boy only after she “lightens up”:
4. Skin Whitening For Men
Men, as it turns out, are not exempt from the pressure of skin whitening. The Indian-owned Emami Group, which makes a product called “Fair and Handsome,” claims it’s manufacturing the only skin whitening cream for men:
A fair complexion has always been associated with success and popularity. Men and women alike desire fairness, it is believed to be the key to a successful life. Well for women the market is loaded with fairness cream but for men there has not been a single fairness creams [sic].
Fair and Handsome’s commercial below features Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan. Who knew you could light a match off of dark skin? Seems kinda handy, if you ask me:
MESSAGE: How can we get men to develop the same skin whitening-neuroses as women? We have products to sell.
5. Skin Whitening For Your Vagina
And last, but not least, there’s skin whitening for your lady bits!
MESSAGE: A dark-skinned vagina leads to a joyless, sexless existence.
Stay tuned for a dick whitening cream! I’m sure it’s only a matter of time.