NIVEA, a German personal care brand recently released an advertisement introducing their new body moisturizer. When this advertisement released, women- particularly black woman were outraged by the fact that this was oppressing their race and gender. This picture was put on big billboards across countries in Africa making people furious and they demanded the company to take it down.
The problem with this advertisement is that it discriminates black women by their gender and race by valuing “fairer skin” and imposing that consumers will be more beautiful using this product. This draws us back to the topic of Black Feminism and the troubles black women encounter every day. As women, they already feel pressured by society to look presentable when they are in public or among the opposite gender. As black women, they have to feel ashamed of their skin color as it is not preferred color in society. Black women are not only judged by their gender but also by their race.
Also along with gender and race oppression, this ad intersects with class status. It oppresses black women in society and makes them inferior compared to those with “fairer skin”. In American culture, whiteness and more of a European “look” is considered the norm, and as a result, blackness is associated with lesser status. Looking back at history, whiter skin has given people power over other races and NIVEA implies that by having their product, black women can be on the same level as Caucasian women in society.
The problem with this advertisement is that NIVEA is trying to sell their products and make money out of making people hate themselves. Whitening and lightening creams are not only physically damaging but also ethically wrong. As a culture that came from years of oppression and hatred inflicted by slave owners, NIVEA uses this ad to pursue black women to hide their history and earn a place in society with just a body cream. This advertisement is bluntly racist towards women of color and views whiter skin as the pure and superior kind in society.
For the Jammed version, I have taken the same image and added on to the caption, “FOR VISIBLY FAIRER SKIN because whiter skin is the only acceptable skin color in society that lets you have privilege and power”. This alteration mocks NIVEA’s advertisement as they are imposing black women to buy their products to have lighter skin. The purpose of my version is to illuminate the implications of having whiter skin. To this day, white privilege exists and gives Caucasian people the power of opportunity and freedom of many things in life. Of course, that is not the case with people of color. Black woman, in particular, are constantly compared to white women and are judged by the way they act, dress, and look. The beauty norm states that Caucasian women are more beautiful than black women because of their “fair” skin tone. However, that does not mean that black women must find ways to change the color of their skin to gain privilege and power in society. The jammed version of this ad is supposed to shine a light on the fact that NIVEA is discriminating and oppressing women of the color of their skin with the purpose of selling a profitable body cream. Every skin color is beautiful, and no women should be told that they are not because of it.
posted on Oct 19, by Tanaz Pourkaram
Johnson A. Nivea under attack for its racist skin lightening advert [Internet]. News and Entertainment- Latest Updates in Nigeria | Pulse.ng. Pulse; 2017 [cited 2018Oct20]. Available from: https://www.pulse.ng/gist/pop-culture/nivea-under-attack-for-its-racist-skin-lightening-advert-id7490123.html