Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Dove: The New Conspiracy Against Blacks?

I've been a user of Dove products since as long as I can remember. My mother and sister have very sensitive skin and Dove products have always been a cheap and satisfactory remedy. I've become pretty partial to Dove since it's what I know and I have to admit it works better than all the other bath products I've tried.

So when I began to see reports and posts about Dove's new add campaign (pictured below), I was interested in what all the hooplah was. Especially when titles like "Dove body wash turns Black Women into Latino Women into White Women" and "From Dark to Light: Is Dove's 'Visible Care' Ad Racist?" started popping up all over my blog feed. When I read the second article and saw this photo I immediately shrugged it off as some Black people once again looking for racism in things that just weren't there. 

Ok, the progression from dark to light with the model placement in front of two contrasting skin types of cracked and smooth is a bit cringe worthy. But I chose to look at it more as just poor model placement rather than racism. Most of the commenters agreed with me in that it really wasn't a big deal and people where looking for racism in something that wasn't there. However one particular comment from that article struck me:
 I got sense! (commenter)
MAY 24, 2011 AT 11:25 AM
“The advertisement comes quite out of character for the brand, which is widely seen as an industry leader for its “Real Women, Real Beauty” campaign.”
This is it isn’t out of character. Unilever (the parent brand) uses racism all the time in other countries. This company promotes and advertises skin lightening. This is why you have to know who you are giving your money to. And their “Real women, real beauty” campaign is B.S. too. They lightening and photoshop women all the time. I haven’t purchased any Unilever brands in months. There a whole series on YOUTUBE about it.                   
After reading this, I decided I needed to do a bit of my own research just to see what "I got sense" was talking about. Now in the past Dove has done really well of advertising "real women" who don't fit into one particular size and are usually diverse. 
But after scanning some of the many brands that Unilever, the company which owns Dove, also promotes, I can see where some would say that this new add has an undertone of racism. Two products which immediately attracted my focus where Lux and Fair & Lovely. Both these brands are skin care products promoted in various international markets, but seem to target Asian, Middle Eastern, and Indian demographics. And in these brands, key marketing targets skin whitening/lightening. Unilever even describes Fair & Lovely thusly:
Fair & Lovely’s brand-essence of ‘Rescripting Destiny’ has played a decisive role in its noteworthy presence in over 30 countries. Today, 250 million consumers across the globe strongly connect with Fair & Lovely as a brand that stands for “beauty that empowers a woman to change her destiny”. The brand’s commitment towards empowering women has inspired the initiation of Fair & Lovely Foundation. Time after time the foundation initiates various education & employment-related programs that give underprivileged women the power to overcome all barriers & change their lives. 
Now if that doesn't sound even the tiniest bit racist- well I don't even know what to tell you. Here you have a brand basically saying that your darker skin is keeping you from that destiny you deserve. That by lightening your skin you can become empowered and change your life for the better. Therein lies the racism. The very fact that someone must change their skin tone to improve themselves and their life. Sure this is bigger than just skin care manufacturers making money off of communities affected by racial inequality and persons who see the fairer skin as the ideal form. But it sure isn't helping the problem.

Take a look at this video.
And tell me that there isn't a bigger issue going on and that these skin-care manufacturers are feeding into a problem and making it bigger.

After finding that Dove is connected to these brands through Unilever, I can see where undercurrents of racism shine through in this add. That may have not even been the marketing strategy. The cameraman might have just seen the models and decided he liked that placement the best. I don't know and that leads me to the bigger issue I have with all of this.

Should I still continue to buy Dove, and by doing so, support a company that markets such racially tinged products like Lux and Fair & Lovely? I really don't know. One the one hand Dove has been a staple in my house and has been the best bathing product I've found for my family. However, on the other hand, it really goes against my sensibilities to keep supporting something that promotes racist mindsets and skin bleaching. After all taking my families support away from Unilever is only a drop in the ocean for them, but it's doing something.

What do you think? Do you find the Dove campaign racist? Would you still support Dove and other Unilever products even though it promotes skin bleaching?

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