Do you think this advert is racist?

Get white skin and life will get better: that’s the message to Pakistani and Indian men in this cosmetic advert.  It’s one of several skin whitening television commercials aimed at men in Pakistan and India.

Thanks, to the people at CNN for making this avalible to us on uTube.

The advert has been branded by some as racist. Brinda Karat, a member of India’s Parliament, made formal complaints about the advertisements to Indian authorities. She says the ads are simply playing on a social stigma that already exists in India.

But a marketing study has found sales for skin whitening creams have jumped more than 100 percent in rural India so the product makers say they’re simply giving the public what it wants.

Siditty has tweeted us to say ‘It is racist and objectionable, it pushes a belief that lighter equals better and embraces the concept of colourism’

MCMcCoy tweets: ‘Skin whitening products are a “hot commodity” for Asian men who want to succeed personally and professionally’.

What do you think? Are the adverts racist? Or just catering to a wide market?

23 Responses to “Do you think this advert is racist?”

  1. 1 Anthony
    September 10, 2009 at 16:50

    Yes. Yes it is. Period.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  2. 2 steve
    September 10, 2009 at 17:10

    That’s about as racist as hair straightening products for black people. It’s not racist. Is it stupid? Shallow? Yes, but not racist.

  3. September 10, 2009 at 17:10

    wow… it’s plain racist. that advert just screams out: “BE WHITE, BE WHITE… and all your dreams will come true.”

    and here’s something satirical: it may be sold in the southern states of the US for KKK-repellent.

    …Talking about how much shock can one stand.

  4. September 10, 2009 at 17:26

    While there are ads for dark-skinned persons to get a white skin, there are also ads for white-skinned people to get suntanned. Colour skin is becoming a commodity where it seems some people aren’t satisfied with their colour and seek a better one. Maybe people look for distinction and it has nothing to do with race.

    What I like about Ramadan, especially in Morocco, is that many women appear in their true colours in this month. As it is prohibited by religion for women to use cosmetics when fasting , they have to keep a plain face. Maybe it’s an occasion to put up with their look and forget about having a white or suntanned skin.

  5. 5 Jennifer
    September 10, 2009 at 17:31

    I don’t think it is. If people want to use skin whitener; let them. This is something that people have to choose; it’s not an insult; they choose to use this product.

    Are tanning beds racist? They are used to darken skin.

    • 6 stacey
      September 10, 2009 at 18:28

      Okay Germany, sit down and shut it. If it is racist and it is addressing a demand, then the advert isn’t really being racist-they are being part of the consumer driven market. The consumers are where the issue is, racist, shallow or otherwise.

  6. 7 Michelle from Jamaica
    September 10, 2009 at 18:47

    No its not racist. It just appeals to people’s insecurities about themselves.

    • 8 Dennis Junior
      September 12, 2009 at 20:42

      I think it is simply a ploy for beauty….And, also, what *Michelle from Jamaica* wrote
      September 10, 2009 at 18:47 ….

      =Dennis Junior=

  7. 9 clovis41
    September 10, 2009 at 18:47

    Racist? Maybe. Stupid? Definitely. I wonder how long it will be before someone decides that colors can be beautiful as well. We might see ads like “Be green Today” or a “Blue Face Matches your shoes” campaign. Teeth painting could be another great trend with multi-colored dentures beaming out from polka dotted faces. What a stupid world we live in.

    • September 10, 2009 at 22:38

      there are such things. custom contact lenses for examples… they change color of the iris or have actual images on them. dying hair or tattoos. the problem is, that it stresses the body one way or another… or we can do it like the blue-man-group…

    September 10, 2009 at 19:35

    KUDOS TO CNN for this skull skulduggery.
    It’s stupid, waste of time and its everywhere. How ironical life can be! Look, its like someone telling you that “you should shave your hair and buy yourself a wig from the stores if you want to be intelligent”. Hey! it happens folks and it’s not just the uneducated only getting conned this way. GOOD GOD!

    Dear Patels, sons & daughters, Somebody has discovered that you are not acting with your clutch-of-intelligence- fully-engaged or the pads have started suffering serous wear of late. Hey! Send the guys packing with their buckets of plaster of paris because even though it’s free, nobody uses it these days besides on houses. On respectable people as you are and the priest saying nothing about it? SHAME!



  9. 12 J-lou in Tahiti
    September 10, 2009 at 22:10

    This ad is just a stupid ad like we see on telly all the time but I would not call it racist.

    Western society is using tanning cream and risking getting cancer on sun beds all the time but no one calls that racist.

  10. 13 gary
    September 10, 2009 at 23:17

    If appearing to be white improves one’s chances of securing the future and thus of raising well cared for offspring, then getting skin whitening isn’t stupid or racist or even wrong, it’s just adaptive. I mean, just don’t get me started on the things I wouldn’t have done if it weren’t for a desire to eat regularly and to have a family. The bottom line is there are lots of little bits of inane or stupid reality out there and excessive worry about them just brings one down to their level.

  11. 14 Alan in Arizona
    September 10, 2009 at 23:52

    Racist? NO, Sad? YES! If the men are wanting a fling, this may help. If the men are wanting a meaningful relationship, then they should be themselves. A partner worth being with will want them for what’s on the inside, not the shallow wrappings of their outside appearance.

    Alan in Arizona

  12. 15 patti in cape coral
    September 11, 2009 at 02:44

    I was surprised to see this product marketed specifically to males, usually women are the ones agonizing over stupidities of this sort. Personally, when I saw the ad, I thought the dark-skinned man was pretty darn foxy, so I didn’t see much point in changing a thing. Of course, I thought the lighter-skinned man was foxy too. I honestly don’t get it, why do people think only one thing is beautiful?

    As far as the ad being racist, I’m not sure. I think it’s more about money and playing on insecurities. How would they make money without our insecurities?

  13. 16 Andrew in UK
    September 11, 2009 at 09:09

    On first pass, it does seem to be, if not racist, then at leat a little embarrassing…at least to a white person.
    But then you have to ask yourself in what way is it any different from an ad for sun tan lotion, or more precisely, any ‘tan in a bottle’ product?

  14. 17 vijay pillai
    September 11, 2009 at 09:22

    Have Indians lost their pride and common sense ,now only intereted in money,money,and more money at any cost even to their health and is it the outcome.?
    india is a good market for coloured people and if the darker people can be convinced,mostly uneducated 70-80 percent i guess,except in cities, is this the way the country moves?..
    is this the country with large population of untochables?.
    prefer boys to girls?
    dowry system although abolished , are gilrs looked down upon as burden?.

  15. 18 patti in cape coral
    September 11, 2009 at 12:54

    I have a question for those in India – is there any underlying truth to the advert that white Indians have a better lifestyle, more money, are considered more beautiful, etc., than darker Indians?

  16. 19 vijay pillai
    September 11, 2009 at 14:35

    i think the most handsome man of indian origin was Subramaniayam Chandraseker. if any one seen his photo in his cambridge univesity days, would have put many actors to back room. I think it is the brain of a man or woman is sexier than the body. If no brain like Einstein, then you get empty shell like the one former tv news reader put it, it was the easiest job in the world-just read what was on the screen and ask the qustions given to you.
    You dont have to understand complexity science or white dwarf theory to be a TV news reader.

  17. 20 Veganbyproxy
    September 11, 2009 at 17:12

    While visiting Asia, I learned about this product. It is very common in many countries around the world. Not only are these whitening agents sold in creams, but also added to makeup so the skin can be bleached in conjunction with the use of daily cosmetics.

    This commercial is only the tip of the iceberg regarding western influence on developing countries.

  18. 21 Joe in Portland
    September 11, 2009 at 17:22

    The ad is not racist. I guess you could call it “colorist”? It’s saying it doesn’t matter what your race is, it just matters what color your skin is. The consumer demand behind the product is caused by racism.

  19. 22 Dennis Junior
    September 14, 2009 at 10:58

    After, seeing the advert is semi-racist; But, it is UP to the India’s Telecommunication Authorities to stop it if they wanted this from ever being shown….

    =Dennis Junior=

  20. 23 Piero
    October 5, 2009 at 12:21

    Since there are lots of people who tan their skin so they can look DARKER, it’s just a matter of tastes and personal preferences.

    Maybe the way this specific ad puts it is stupid, but that’s the same with 50% of ads: they appeal to stupid misconceptions.

    I think to really stop racism we all need also to stop calling things racist. They’re just what they are. Maybe I like green skin.

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