Unilever is joining a number of global corporations in putting some distance to being accused of exploiting colourism when selling their products. Moving forward, things won’t be all ‘fair and lovely’ for this company.
In an announcement today (25 June), Unilever said it will remove the words ‘fair/fairness’, ‘white/whitening’, and ‘light/lightening’ from its products’ packs and communication. As part of the decision, it added that the Fair & Lovely brand name will be changed in the next few months.
“We recognise that the use of the words ‘fair’, ‘white’ and ‘light’ suggest a singular ideal of beauty that we don’t think is right, and we want to address this,” one of its top officials said in the statement.
In 2019, it said its Fair & Lovely pack in India had removed before-and-after impressions and shade guides that could indicate a transformation.
The move to tinker with the melanin-suppressing face cream, a top selling products in many markets, comes as the backlash against branding that trades off racial stereotypes in the aftermath of the George Floyd protests in the United States.
Triggered by incidents of police brutality against Black people, the Black Lives Matter movement has gained traction around the world and spurred companies to reassess their businesses and marketing for signs of discrimination.
Johnson & Johnson said last week that it would retreat from its skin-whitening business, which includes the Clean & Clear Fairness brand in India and its Neutrogena Fine Fairness line in Asia and the Middle East, reports Bloomberg.
In Asia, where lighter skin can be associated with wealth and status, cosmetics companies — including L’Oréal SA, Shiseido Co. Ltd., and Procter & Gamble Co. — have long devoted a big part of their business to marketing creams and lotions that promise to lighten skin tones. Some refer to their products as skin brighteners instead, and promote the idea they can help hide freckles and cover dark blemishes, the report added.
Asian matrimonial website removes skin tone filter after backlash (Asia Samachar, 25 June 2020)
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