When I was growing up, FAIR AND LOVELY face cream was kind of a joke. After all, the whitening properties of the face cream, targeted at a South Asian female demagraphic didn’t apply to me. I was living in the U.S. where during the summertime, you’d see rows and rows of white bodies baking under the Florida sun. Trying to get darker.
But after a recent visit to Malaysia, I see that FAIR AND LOVELY has bigger aims. Their ads now target Asian women of all stripes: there are even ads on channels shown in Qatar.
The story is the same: the hard working, well deserving woman – model, designer, whatever – can’t get ahead with her assignments because her bosses all find her ‘dark’ skin tone unattractive. Introduce the cream, and VIOLA!, she’s on her way to being the next mega mogul.
I’m puzzled by these opposing long existing trends – white is desireable, but all white people try to tan – which sreams of double standards and contradictions.
Why all the spray tans and ‘fake bakes’ if white people dislike browness?
Is this what is holding Obama back – a man who everyone admits has poise, confidence, and the momentum for a historical moment in the making – only he may also have a little too much brown in the face of Clinton’s whiteness?
My friend at the pool today suggested the mideval idea that white was a sign of class status: the fairier your skin, the less hard you were working, particularly with your hands in the sun.
But I suspect that a more malicious lingering of colonial ideology is to behind skin bleaching.
As my friend Allison used to say, “Here’s Moha, my little brown friend.”
And proud of it!