Skin whitening creams are nothing new; in cultures where lighter skin is seen as an asset, they’re commonplace. However, Vaseline’s positive promotion of this concept doesn’t sit well with me. They’ve launched a software programme to allow Facebook users – targeted primarily in India – to make themselves appear more light skinned than they really are. I don’t think I need to spell out how wrong this is on so many levels, but for a global brand to endorse the ‘whiter the better’ policy is nothing short of revolting. It sets campaigns for racial injustice back years. Vaseline, who produce Healthy White Body Lotion, is heavily marketed as a ‘caring’ brand, but sorry, suggesting that anyone looks more attractive ‘whiter’ is not the kind of message they should be sending out – in my view.
I’m reluctant to single out Vaseline though because its that kind of corporate mal-thinking that keeps the beauty world turning. Find something that men and women feel vulnerable about – think lines, wrinkles, pigmentation, thin hair, veins, open pores – highlight that these are not desirable or beautiful, claim a cure or a way to minimise these ‘flaws’, and watch the money roll in.