GRSJ 300 – Culture Jam Assignment

Original Ad

The above image is an advertisement I found online for a skin-whitening cream marketed marketed for women and was originally promoted in Asia. Whitening creams are very popular and highly promoted in Asian countries but in many cultures, fair or lighter skin is considered more beautiful and sought-after. Especially in Asia, there is an obsession with obtaining/maintaining fair skin. It is viewed as pure, youthful and the ideal beauty standard for women. There are even some countries that equate lighter skin to high social status and wealth. Although, skin-whitening products can be used to treat common skin conditions such as, uneven skin tones and dark spots, the problem with this advertisement is how it portrays people with darker skin tones as unattractive and less desirable.  It assumes that all women aspire for lighter skin and associates beauty with “fair and lovely” skin. They mock darker skin tones by showing a women in a “before” and “after” to convey the message that white/fairness is more socially acceptable in our society. It also showcases the discrimination women with darker complexion face when it comes to skincare/makeup industry. In the beauty industry, there is a vast amount of products catered to light skin tones and marketed items to lighten and brighten your skin. On the other hand, black or darker-skin toned women have more difficulty finding products that will match their skin tone and accentuate their beauty. Therefore, this only reinforces the societal pressure to have lighter skin and products that encourage “whitening” the skin acts a constant reminder that their physical appearance is less attractive and beautiful.

Jammed Ad

In my jammed version of the ad, I wanted to highlight the absurdity of the cultural beauty standard for fair/light skin. The original ad uses a side-by-side comparison of light and dark skin to pit women against one another and promote how much more attractive you could be if women with darker skin tones lighten their skin. I used the slogan, “the whiter the better” to criticize the ad’s blatant preference for fair skin and promoting societal views that lighter skin is somehow integral to your success in life, whether that’s through physical attraction or social class. I also wanted to bring focus to the ad’s constant reference to fair skin as being the “best”. The ad insinuates that having light skin is somehow “superior” and that the only way to achieve beauty is through lightening your skin with products like the one being advertised. It shames dark-skinned women by making them hate the way they look. They are made to believe that their skin is ugly and that they should follow the stereotypical standards of beauty, in order to fit in and be considered attractive to others. Ultimately, my alterations to the ad are meant to reveal how people with darker complexions are often being told and forced to change themselves over something they cannot control. Societal and cultural standards of beauty make it hard for women to love themselves just the way they are by constantly bombarding them with products that encourage alterations to their physical appearance and masking it as a way to “better” oneself rather than promoting the appreciation for all skin tones.