Culture Jam: Lighter is Beautiful

We all have your insecurities, aspects of ourselves we would love to change so that we look more desirable to others. In the Philippines, the local beauty industry has made us to believe that the main insecurity within the nation is the darkness of our skin. This advertisement was released in 2012 by a mainstream beauty medical group named Belo, where their ads would usually target Filipino females, the company decided to promote lighter skin towards Filipino young males. The services the Belo promotes and provide are cosmetic surgeries, skin treatments for acne or wrinkles, liposuction and most importantly, skin lightening (Belo Medical Group).

This advertisement that was used to promote a men skin care line displays a young Asian male in a club setting, surrounded by young Asian women, all with similar light complexions. They are all holding on to their phones and appears that the women are waiting to type in their numbers on to the male’s phone. The message “10% lighter. 100% more numbers” shares the idea that if males were just a little bit lighter, all the women would be a lot more attracted to them. The numbers used in the message are quite dramatic, as they state that men will receive 100% more numbers if they used some whitening cream. Are they implying that men who are not 10% lighter receive no number at all?  Or is it that males who have darker skin are not attractive at all?

Regardless of what Belo is trying to tell the Filipino consumer public, we cannot leave out the women in this advertisement. From my personal experience in the Philippines, the beauty community’s obsession of skin whitening has usually been fed towards women, conveying the narrative that lighter skin will always be more desirable, successful, rich and preferred. The narrative of lighter skin is then transferred over to males, where these females are admiring a male with light skin, who they deem handsome and could possible carry the characteristics of being successful and wealthy.


The edits that I have created in this photo were meant to depict absurd obsession whitening of the skin, that could create major health problems. I made the advertisement appear as a warning of the dangers of skin whitening just as government create warning ads for the dangers of smoking. The text in my culture jam supports the narrative mentioned in the original advertisement about how people with lighter complexions are assumed to be wealthy, successful and handsome. I alterations to the image was kept to the minimum as the original image already depicted the complications of colourism, and the obsession of whitening of skin for male and female.

Since the focus of the advertisement was to promote whitening skin care for men, the male in the image appears to have overused skin whitening products, and now mentions that his skin appears transparent, but actually looks sickly. The male is still content with his appearance as the women are still adoring him and wanting his number.

The reason I have promoted “100% more health conditions” on the culture jam, is because a number of ingredients, that are meant to reduce the production melanin in lightening creams are also associated to producing major skin damage, cancer, skin sensitivity and internal organ malfunction with prolong use (Khan 2018).  For a country with people obsessed with how the tone of their skin can identify their class, such dangers of products like whitening cream should be promoted nationwide.




Hays, Jeffrey. “NAMES AND BRIEF HISTORY OF THE PHILIPPINES.” Facts and Details, 2008,


Khan, Coco. “Skin-Lightening Creams Are Dangerous – Yet Business Is Booming. Can the Trade Be Stopped?” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 23 Apr. 2018,


“Skin Lightening and Smoothening Treatments.” Belo Medical Group,

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