Facebook app that allows users to lighten their skin in profile photos.
When I was in China a few summers ago, I blogged about this strange "skin-lightening" rhetoric I noticed on creams that appeared to be simply sunscreens or "complexion balance" products. I knew it was connected to class-based attitudes valuing white-collar jobs that don't require outdoor labor, but I couldn't figure out if people realized the racial connotations too (usually people denied it or acted confused when I asked.)
Well, apparently in India there's the same rhetoric in advertising, and some people DO recognize the racism behind it. This Vaseline Men line is the first of its kind marketed exclusively for men--skin-lightening creams have been around for decades for women--no surprise there. In this article, one man says that this whole thing perpetuates a "I want to be fairer craze" that's sweeping India.
The cream's product description claims to even skin tone and remove "dark spots" caused by too much sun exposure. Okay, I like that terminology better. It's a less offensive way to think about it, and I hope that's the real reason why men are using it, not to "lighten" their natural skin tone.
It's a good sign, in my opinion, that people are upset about it. No matter the manufacturer's actual intentions, AWARENESS is the first step to racial sensitivity. It's necessary if we are to ever move forward.
Some dude comments on the product's Facebook page: "from the outlook of a European american guy seeing an ad for Indian men to lighten their skin to become like white men; i find this racist and a bit offensive. being white does not make you look good. i find this borderline NAZI thinking and that needs to stop."