skin whiteners cause controversy

CNN has a story on cosmetic product advertisements in Asia blatantly targeting men with the promise of lighter, whiter -- and thus, more attractive -- skin color: Skin whitener advertisements labeled racist. There's also a video segment here: Skin whitener controversy.
In one TV commercial, two men, one with dark skin, the other with light skin; stand on a balcony overlooking a neighborhood. The dark skin guy turns to his friend and says in Hindi, "I am unlucky because of my face." His light skin friend replies, "Not because of your face, because of the color of your face."

Suddenly the light skin guy throws his friend a cream. It's a whitening cream.

It is one of several television commercials aimed at men in Pakistan and India. In the end the darker skin actor is shown several shades lighter and he gets the girl he was after. Most of the ads end up that way.

The commercials are sending a not-so-subtle message to men in Asia: Get whiter skin, and you'll get the girl and the job of your dreams. Or at the very least you'll be noticed.
Skin whitening products are fairly common in Asia, but most were once only targeted to women. Now they're apparently a hot commodity for men. Whatever the case, some people are not cool with these ads, including one Indian legislator who's calling them racist.

Isn't it? There is a serious stigma attached to dark skin -- not just in India but in the Philippines, China, Korea, and the rest of Asia -- and these products are making a killing. You can't simply dismiss it as a deep, disturbing desire to be white... but the standard of beauty has to come from somewhere. It's just another example of the crazy places people will go in the name of "beauty."

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