How Advertisement Promote “Whiteness”

The Original Advertisement

The Picture was taken from

“Whiteness” in advertisement

While I was brainstorming for this assignment, I remembered the advertisement from Dove, a personal care brand. When I first saw the advertisement, I was emotionally disturbed because I experienced oppression in the Western world because of my ethnicity. The original picture has been removed by Dove’s company website because of the racial contents, so I found this advertisement from another website. The advertisement tries to promote Dove’s visible care Body Wash, and A black women, a Latin woman, and a blonde woman were standing side by side from left to right. At the back, there two boards labeled “before” and “after” with the black women standing right at the front of the “before” board and the blonde women standing right at the front of “after” board. In addition, there is a slogan that says, “our new revolutionary line of body wishes that actually improves the look of your skin…you will see visibly more beautiful skin just one week.”

The advertisement expresses white skin is the superior skin and “the more beautiful color;” thus, this advertisement sets white to be the color of perfection. On the other hand, black skin is the inferior skin because black is the color of imperfection. This advertisement spreads the idea, the whiter the skins are, the more beautiful one would be. This advertisement is an example of colonial ideology, trying to construct a colonial mentality and building white racial supremacy or “whiteness.” “Whitness” or white racial supremacy is a social construction that conveys the power imbalance between the White and other ethnicities. “Whiteness” brings social and political privilege to “the white.” This idea ignores individual difference within a group but highlights the difference between races.

This advertisement can unconsciously influence people’s construct of the world. This is even more dangerous to younger generations as there are more flexible to ideas. Younger generations can quickly absorb any discriminative ideologies and intergrade them into their core beliefs. Once it is integrated, it is hard to change. Children and adolescents who watched this advertisement can absorb racial ideologies, including the racial definition of beauty. With that, White children and teenagers could become racial and discriminative, such as putting labels based on people’s skin color, and bullying and laughing at their color peers. In addition, those of color who watched this advertisement might feel self-abasement and may lead to devastating impacts on them. The negative influence of “Whitness” is found across genders and across culture. One most famous example is Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson had done numerous plastic surgeries so that he could bleach his black skin into white, and these plastic surgeries had cost him his health. This same similar influence is also seen in Asia countries, such as in China. In China, we believe white or fair equals to beauty, and we will put the extensive effort from protecting our skin from exposing to the sun, ranging from applying sunscreen frequently to wearing facekini. In order to have a fair skin, we have to suffer from financial loss (spending a large portion of our salary on beauty products).

The new Cultural Jam

I redesign the advertisement to spread racial equality, and I will be using Photoshop software to edit my picture. First, I added two pictures under the words, “before” and “after.” The picture I added right under the word “before” is a crying, cracked dark egg lying on the floor. Surrounding this cracked dark egg is five bullying white eggs. The picture implies the white was bullying people of color, but this racial discrimination will end today, signaled by the word “before”. Also, under the “after” word, I put a picture of people of different color holding hands together. It demonstrates after today, people with any skin color have equal status. From today onward, they will be treated with respect because they will discard their racial lens and become friends.

Secondly, the original advertisement put the entire highlight on black and white, it overlooks people of other colors. I add three Yin/Yang symbol with different angles (white part on the left, bottom, and right) on three female’s image accordingly. First, Yin/Yang is the most important symbol for Tao religious, and this symbol is closely tied to Asia culture. With this symbol, I want to show that the world consists of many different ethnicities. Adding this is important; before feminism goes to global, many black females did not know people of other colors also experienced discrimination as well (Basu, 2000). Second, Yin/Yang also symbolize continual transformation, so putting the three symbols at three angles (white part on the left, bottom, and right accordingly) suggests the world is going to transform everywhere (Tai Chi Symbol). To reinforce this idea of changes, I add two circle leaves which form a circle, implying racial equality is spreading to all regions of the world.

To reinforce the theme, I added a slogan “Everybody is different. Everybody is human” on the bottom. This slogan aims at reinforcing individual difference but not group difference. Skin color is not a biological characteristic between social groups, and it doesn’t provide any important different People should not be labeled or laughed by their skin color, because a gene is something people cannot change no matter how hard they tried. On one side, no one should be seen as superior because of a skin color, on the other side, no one should be treated poorly because of their skin colors. With this new cultural jam, I hope to bring awareness and changes not only to the current advertising industry but also to the popular culture on racial content and racism.


Basu, A. (2000). Globalization of the Local/Localization of the global mapping transnational women’s movements. Meridians, 1(1), 68-84.

Ginsoon. (n.d.). Tai Chi Symbol. Retrieved October 16, 2018, from

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