Eek. This is embarassing.

Vaseline has launched a Facebook app in India that allows users to lighten or whiten their skin tone in their profile photos. The app promotes Vaseline’s skin-lightening creams for men and feature Bollywood actor Shahid Kapur, whose face is split in two, half dark, half light. When downloading the app, Facebook says “Try the Vaseline Men Be Prepared Application for a fairer and spotless profile picture.”

Vaseline launches skin lightening app on FacebookFacebook

Oh, but if only this were about removing ‘spots’.

Men have become the latest market for skin lightening creams, beginning in 2005 with the Indian cosmetics company Emani. Western brands are selling creams to men to “transform your face,” as the Facebook app promotes, including Nivea, L’Oreal and Garnier. Women have long been the target customers for skin lightening creams, with the first one appearing for women arrived 32 years ago, also from Emani.

This whole skin lightening thing is a troubling practice not just because people are so obsessed with this fatuous ideal standard of being ‘fair and lovely’ up but also because people will risk their own safety with dangerous, un-regulated, off-brand creams. A good example is seen in the episode of Jessica Simpson’s “The Price of Beauty” with the girl who messed up her whole face by using skin lightening creams 😐

Of course, the reason behind all this is mostly racial. Although standards of beauty certainly vary around the world, one could still make the argument that advertising and the mainstream media still promote ‘white’ or ‘white-looking’ as the ideal. Maybe this skin lightening hijack is a possible result of India’s history of colonization too.

Some people lighten their skin themselves with creams *cough* Sammy Sosa *cough* Michael Jackson while others are ‘whitened’ via photo magic. Either way is pretty sad. Both Freida Pinto and Beyoncé‘s modeling photos for L’Oreal have been accused of being lightened — although the cosmetics giant, of course, denied it on both accounts.

So, Vaseline’s skin lightening Facebook app isn’t really new news. But that does not make it any less sad..

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