Controversial skincare ad provokes thought


Asha Khanna, Editor-in-Chief

A new ad for a popular personal care brand caught many users’ attention a few weeks ago. Although I do not have a Facebook account, the internet’s outrage over the ad quickly caught my attention.

The first part of Dove’s most recent soap ad, featuring a black woman taking off a dark brown T-shirt to reveal a white woman in a white T-shirt, has brought the company under public scrutiny.

The ad reminded me of how confused I felt in that situation and how I embarrassed I was for having dark skin.

For a company whose mission statement is “to help all women realize their personal beauty potential,” this ad conveyed quite the opposite. Many, including myself, an Indian female, interpreted the message to be that dark skin is “dirty” and must be “cleaned” — using Dove soap — to be light like a white person’s.

When I was 8 years old, a girl at my summer camp came up to me and asked me why my knees were so dark and told me I should go wash them because they were gross. I never answered back and instead went home and scrubbed my knees trying to “clean” them.

Seeing the ad reminded me of how confused I felt in that situation and how I embarrassed I was for having dark skin.

Dove removed the ad and later issued an apology on Twitter, claiming it “missed the mark,” and that it wanted to show that its products were meant for people of all skin tones. Despite what the company’s true intentions were, their mistake presents a stark reminder that discrimination against people with darker skin tones can be slyly embedded in our society.

While it is comforting to see that many are recognizing the problems with the ad, it makes me question how it even made it through a marketing team and onto digital platforms.

The Dove advertising staff may have not caught on to the issue due to “racial colorblindness.” Without having experienced racial discrimination yourself, it can be difficult to see how it can harm others.

But this is no reason to excuse it, and we should still be empathetic towards others, no matter what skin color they have.

We are all humans, the concept of “race” was entirely fabricated by us to belittle and discriminate. Uncontrollable genetics that determine our skin color have contributed to thousands of years of racism. Just eight genetic variants separate the skin tones of the white supremacists of Charlottesville from the minorities they hate and threaten.

But regardless of what we look like on the outside, we are all deserving to be recognized as beautiful.