During my daily morning read of Sky News’ error riddled iPhone application, I stumbled across an article criticizing an application created for Vaseline to promote their skin lightening range, which is hugely popular in India. Whilst The Guardian’s take on the matter included a slightly more valid point of view
“What makes it even more nauseating is the fact that Vaseline is a sub-brand of Unilever, which also own brands like Dove. Dove, if you remember, set about saving our little girls from the beauty industry with their Campaign for Real Beauty. The much lauded campaign included inspirational films like OnSlaught, which suggested “you talk to your daughter before the beauty industry does”
They still failed to recognise that the want to alter the colour of your skin is something that is not only exclusive to India’s culture but is prevalent in the cultures of many Western nations. This is what annoys me so much. It is so easy to look in from the outside and point out the flaws of something else without realizing that the exact same thing, for very similar reasons and with very similar consequences goes on within your own belonging.
The funny thing is, this isn’t the first time I’d encountered this issue. To earn what are formally known as ‘beer tokens’ within University circles, I worked at Ventura on a department that had a very good representation of traditional Indian culture. Not to my surprise, a group of white British women failed to see why any woman would attempt to lighten her skin colour with a low concentration of acid. I know what your thinking, who wouldn’t see this is a bad thing, acid is the stuff we use to digest our food and unblock our drains. What makes me laugh is that the same women, or at least 2 of them in the hope of convincing their colleagues that the 2 weeks they spent caravanning in Skegness was actually a fortnight relaxing besides a pool in Spain’s finest Benidorm, regularly used sun beds. Yes, those cancer inducing beds of joy that emulate one of the most powerful and potentially destructive things in our solar system, THE SUN!
The issue of skin lightening comes from the Indian caste system (which is very similar to our hierarchy) where lighter skinned people are seen of as a higher caste. Do white women use sun beds because they want to be Asian? No, it is because they want to look like they can afford time to leisure in the sun i.e belonging to the middle class.
To cut a long story short, whilst I agree that Unilever have been hypocrites, using acid on your face is bad and that changing the colour of your skin isn’t going to make anyone love you I don’t think that we should spend our time nit picking other peoples cultures when ours is just as bad. It’s easy enough for journalists to sit on their pedestals and criticize the efforts we go through in the hope that maybe, just maybe, someone rich may be convinced we are holidaying in the Bahamas and marry us.