Racist Thai beauty ad that praises White skin causes online uproar
By Victor Ochieng
A beauty ad released by a Thailand company has generated enormous online heat for claiming that white skin means success. Many people expressed concerns that the ad promotes a racist ideology, giving the impression that white skin is superior.
In the ad, Cris Horwang, a light-skinned actress says with a smile that “Just being white, you will win.” The ad, which runs for 50 seconds, is produced by Seoul Secret, a Thai-based beauty company.
The ad promotes a skin lightening product. In the ad, Horwang warns viewers that “the whiteness I have invested in, will just vanish,” if she doesn’t use the advertised pill.
Even more serious is the part where another actress standing beside her sees her skin turning darker, a variation achieved through digital alteration. Seeing that, Horwang asserts that the product she’s promoting, called Snowz, “will help you not to return to being dark.”
Then she adds a little reassurance that the skin will turn “eternally white, I am confident.”
After the ad was widely shared and criticized online, the company acted on Friday by bringing the ad down from diverse online platforms before issuing a statement.
“(We) would like to apologize for the mistake and claim full responsibility for this incident. Our company did not have any intention to convey discriminatory or racist messages,” read part of the statement.
“What we intended to convey was that self-improvement in terms of personality, appearance, skills, and professionality (sic) is crucial.”
Although such products are widely sought after in most Asian countries, including Thailand, the online community didn’t fail to fiercely criticize the ad.
Yukti Mukdawijitra, a professor at Thammasat University, said: “I think it’s really ugly — I couldn’t believe this kind of ad is still coming out in Thailand.”
Mukdawijitra went ahead to say that the ad depicts racism seen in the country for years, where those with lighter skin color were considered to be of higher social status and privileged.
That feeling and ideology was planted by the West, whose main concern was to portray whites as superior.
“Thai society wants to be a part of international society, so ideas of beauty are transferred from the West to Thailand as well.”
The society ends up being biased towards those of darker skin tones so that “Those who look Western, those who are white, those who have bodies that look like Westerners’, become preferable” yet in the process, “people in Thailand internalize a colonial attitude into themselves.”
As harmless as it seems, it works to promote social inequality.
Mukdawijitra advises that “It’s fine that you prefer white colors, but it doesn’t makes sense to prefer being white.”