Nivea accused of racism for 'visibly fairer skin' advert

Nivea has been branded ‘racist’ for promoting skin whitening [Photo: Instagram/fuseodg]
Nivea has been branded ‘racist’ for promoting skin whitening [Photo: Instagram/fuseodg]

It seems to be one controversial ad after another at the moment. Following Dove’s mishap, rival beauty brand Nivea has come to public attention for a similar reason.

The skincare company has released an advert aimed at women of colour in Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon and Senegal.

Advertising for a cream called Natural Fairness, the marketing slogan used on billboards across Africa read: ‘For visibly fairer skin.’

The accompanying video shows a black woman applying the cream all over her body before going to pick up her daughter from school.

When she gets there, her daughter’s teacher mistakes the woman for the little girl’s sister and not her mum. Why? Because her skin is so much lighter.

“Mummy? Wow, you have the most beautiful glowing skin!” the youngster can be heard saying.

The ad, which people believe is sending the message that the whiter your skin, the more attractive you are, has been torn to shreds by the black community.

Women of colour are saying they are fed up with beauty brands profiting from their self-esteem issues with many claiming that they were brought up using brands like Nivea and Dove and now don’t know where to turn.

Comments on Twitter include:

“Why do these so called ‘beauty companies’ LOVE to promote self-hate within the black community?”

“Now Nivea are mad racist? What skincare products can I use for goodness sake?”

One man even spoke up, tweeting: “This is why black businesses need to rise up and cater for our needs. Nivea can’t get away with pushing this skin lightening agenda across Africa. Appalling.”

Activist and former L’Oreal face, Munroe Bergdorf, called out Nivea on Instagram, saying: “Perpetuating the notion that fairer skin is more beautiful [and] more youthful is so damaging and plays into the racist narrative so prevalent in the beauty industry that whiteness or light skin is the standard that we should all strive for.”

“Advertisers have the power to change this narrative but campaign after campaign, we see it being used worldwide. Making money out of making people hate themselves is never acceptable. Whitening and lightening creams are not only physically damaging, but also ethically wrong.”

“Empowerment is not too much to ask for. ALL black skin is beautiful, no exceptions, so celebrate us as we are instead of asking us to adhere to unattainable and racist ideals.”

The company has now responded, saying in a statement: “We have recently noted concerns on social media by some consumers regarding our Nivea Natural Fairness Body Lotion communication in Ghana. We would like to emphasise that this campaign is in no way meant to demean or glorify any person’s needs or preferences in skin care.”

“As a global leader in skin care, [Nivea] has developed a safe product that contains natural ingredients and UV filters, which protect the skin from long-term sun damage and premature skin-ageing as well as reduce the sun-induced production of melanin, which, over time, can lead to an uneven skin tone.”

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