High time Unilever moved closer to truly appreciate the beauty that manifests in all hues and shades. We just ask the brand this 1 question: What took you so long? Promoting shadeism is such an insidious route to trapping people into a very conscious color bias. Glad to see it being called out.
And a lot of other brands are following the Unilever bandwagon:
Alright, Better late than never, But Let us talk about what matters. What about the damage it has caused all these years to the social fabric by promoting racial and color divide by virtue of skin color? Shouldn't these brands be doing something for making it up to dark-skinned people who have been mocked humiliated, shamed, and looked down on because their competence was connected to their skin color and all because that's the perception these brands created through their discriminatory ads?
Colourism seems to be a huge problem with these skincare & beauty brands. We recall the Lola Ogunyemi advert by Unilver, the Nigerian model in the ad said the public view of the ad is misinterpreted and she's not a victim then why would Dove apologize and not stand their ground? It's not a misinterpretation, it's misrepresentation at the most. The campaign largely invited the ire from many diverse groups. Some comments were targeted at colored women trying to validate a point that there is indeed a market for these products because women are vain!
The issue is not about vanity as much as it's about the messaging! The fact remains that brands have been pedaling a misguided sense of beauty and fanning the insecurities of the gullible minds. So many beauty products send out blatantly discriminating messages and the unfortunate truth is, there are consumers for these products because of that! "Besides being regressive the beauty and "fair" ads also play on the minds of young girls. A lot of studies are indicating that these complexes eventually hinder the confidence building of these girls"
Anyhow, a great decision and a clear reflection of how no corporate can remain oblivious to the evolving societal narratives. It would be interesting to see the new positioning though. Will it be only a name change or is the product also going to be revisited? The trust in the brand will be reinstated only if there is a clear change in both the product and the positioning. Changing the name only would be perceived as a statement on the consumers' intellect.
One can't destroy generations of people on a discriminatory ideology and then start celebrating racial equality toward the end. If Unilever wanted to do something really meaningful, they could have strung together a beautiful message that condemned racial discrimination. The fact that they did not do that speaks volumes about how the topline is more important than objective realities in flesh n blood of people who endure profanities and face prejudice across their lives due to their complexion.
What is required is reconditioning the beauty template to include the different visual forms i.e. the ethnic diversity that makes up India/ Middle East and Africa (and other markets these Fair & Lovely products largely get sold). Not one kind of beautiful but sensitizing to multiple facets of beautiful. Unilever and similar brand must now pave the way for re-setting notions of beauty, for setting inclusive templates in motion across markets. Not just by skin tone alone. This is imperative for women to embrace themselves, their natural differences, and feel more comfortable in their skin.