Remember That Time Emma Watson Was the Face of a Skin-Lightening Product?

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Emma Watson booked her deal with Lancôme in 2011, and the most recent dated ad I found featuring her face was from 2013. Hard to say how old the picture above is, or how aware Watson was of how her image would be used, but there it is selling a skin-lightening product.


Writer Naomi Mabita shared the image again (which is one of the top pictures when you search Emma Watson + Lancôme) in an article for gal-dem. The publication is doing a series on the dangers of skin-lightening products, which are sadly very common.

Mabita uses the picture to illustrate a point about how these sorts of products are marketed to predominantly WOC in nations outside the U.S., using coded language and photos to sell skin bleaching:

An example of this is the White Perfect range by L’Oréal Paris. If you go to their official European website, you will not find any of the products from their White Perfect range, yet a quick web search shows you all the different places you can get hold of them, including on the L’Oréal India website, eBay and Amazon. The only advertisements for these feature women of colour – including Sonam Kapoor (India), Martha Cristiana (Mexico), Fan Bingbing (China) and Dian Sastrowardoyo (Indonesia). They’re marketing “pearl perfect whiteness” to all except white women, and everyone consuming the brand is complicit.

Why is a French company advertising “perfect whiteness” to Indian and Chinese women? Why is melanin stunting being promoted as standard? It’s white supremacy at work, where those at the top of the chain make sure there is a clear divide between what they show white people and what they show people of colour – so they don’t have to answer uncomfortable questions....

Do an image search of ad campaigns and you’ll quickly out find how widespread this practice of equating facial perfection to “whiteness” is. Emma Watson, forever paraded in the media as a white feminist icon, is the face of Lancôme’s “Blanc Expert” (Expert White) which contains disruptive ingredients intended to whiten the skin.

Editor Charlie Cuff also tweeted out the image, and some details about the product:

Since 2011, Emma Watson was named queen of (white) feminism by the U.N. Much has changed, much could still change, much is in her power to change, unless Lancôme sealed her mouth with a contract after giving it a feminine gloss.


Image via Twitter.

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Bingo Bronson

I know some people are going to brush this away, but I cannot tell you how harmful these ads are, how pervasive and how damaging. Being Afro-Brazilian on one side & Indian on the other, I see this shit in both my cultures, and with a lot of my female friend and family circle and I still, at 45 years old, I still can’t help feeling bad about my dark skin colour sometimes. It’s a long process to decolonise yourself, and this fucked up colorism doesn’t help AT ALL.