There is “borderline offensive” and then there is “unmistakably clear case of offensive”. Now, Dove, a company that likes to pat itself on the shoulder for their allegedly innovative use of non-skinny models (yeah, we’ll not discuss in how far the “real women” they feature are real women), has major shit hitting its face due to a recent ad-campaign for their new body wash that promises to make your skin visibly clear. The internet is abuzz with lots and lots of criticism, but I’ve seen many people who tend to categorize the ad into the “borderline offensive” box, as in: not really.
Let us first take a quick look at the ad I’m talking about:
Ermh, what? What the fuckity fuck?
Let us count the ways:
The product promises to give you “visibly more beautiful skin”. Three young, beautiful women are standing there, reminding us with their skin, that this is what we’ll get. Kinda. Coincidentally, the black woman is standing in front of the “before” = “bad skin” segment of the ad, while the white woman is placed in front of the “after” = “visibly more beautiful skin” half. And a woman of color with a skin-color somewhere in between “marks their transition”, or what?
Let us, just for a second, presume that no one who worked on the initial design noticed this and saw no purpose in that particular placement of models within the ad. How on effin’ earth could anybody in their right mind over at Dove look at this and not feel the slightest touch of uneasiness? No one sitting there sayin’ “uummmmhh, you guys, maybe we should reconsider….”?
Cause wow, that ad speaks volumes, and what it says is “it is more desirable in our society to be white, so ladies of all shades, buy this product and become a pretty white thing, and hey, if you’re white you’re basically almost there”. And just to make myself clear (in between all the *headdesking* going on right here), not for a split-second do I believe that this ad came to existence accidentally with nobody in charge realizing what is going on in that sick (yep, SICK) picture. So, while I see several people out there arguing all “oh, but I don’t think they intended to, it’s just unfortunate placement, but really, they’re standing in front of the graphics, but not grouped into the categories…” I will say right here and right now: This sick picture is one racist advertisement. That’s as racist as you can get these days. That’s not even nowhere near subtle.
And did you notice how by using the product you go from “healthy black woman” to “skinny white woman”? Apparently the whole damn washing lotion doesn’t only make you whiter and blonde, it also makes you lose weight. Oh my, all good things at once (and since I know this is the internets: this is me being sarcastic, as in, I clearly don’t mean it, but actually think the opposite). I’m glad to see the massive backlash for Dove based on this ad, but I’d still like to hear a sincere apology from the soapy corporate giant. And I’m appalled by all those internet commenters that go like “you’re stupid, get a life, no way this is racist, it’s the opposite”. Now, I don’t want to discourage anyone from commenting, but I’d love to encourage everyone to fucking think. Pretty please. Thank you.