This Nivea Ad Promising "Visibly Lighter Skin" Is Reigniting a Conversation About Skin Bleaching On the Continent
Nivea has come under fire for an advertisement promoting skin lightening, but the incident also opens up a broader discussion about marketing trends and consumer demand on the continent.
German-owned skincare brand, Nivea, is facing intense backlash over an ad promising "visibly lighter skin" with the use of their moisturizer.
The company released a television advert for their "natural fairness" product, which features former Miss Nigeria Omowunmi Akinnifesi applying the cream. Her skin instantly appears lighter once the moisturizer is applied.
The product is being promoted with billboards across Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon, with the slogan "for visibly fairer skin."
While the issue of skin lightening on the continent is a complex, and sometimes psychological one—with roots largely stemming from colonialism—it's offensive, to say the least, that Nivea would assume that Africans would be collectively heedless to the racism and self-hate which the ad promotes.
A number of folks have criticized the ad on Twitter, reprehending Nivea and calling out a widely irresponsible beauty industry which continues to push harmful skin products to Africans.
Dear @niveauk@NIVEAUSA and all other #Nivea out there... This is not how to market in Africa. We didn't want 'FAIRER SKIN' thank you. pic.twitter.com/qBtYvfLNpA
— Folaranmi 👼 (@TheFavoredWoman) October 18, 2017
This is why black businesses need to rise up and cater for our needs. Nivea can't get away with pushing this skin lightening agenda across Africa. Appalling. pic.twitter.com/8uR7XHNgVa
— William Adoasi (@WilliamAdoasi) October 18, 2017
For those of u claiming the word "fairer" mean beautiful
TakeDown ya SelfHate billboards in Africa. #BlackIsBeautiful
— Fuse ODG (@FuseODG) October 18, 2017
Wish I was surprised by this level of blatant racist agenda by a global company. But...im not.
— Tiffany R.N. (@Poetif76) October 18, 2017
There's also a discussion taking place around the demand for such products on the continent, and how advertising often caters to what companies believe is "trendy" in specific localities.
We need to ask ourselves, honestly, are we complicit with the ideologies that spawn these toxic lines of thought? Obviously, there's demand.
— Magus (@DraymoorJ) October 18, 2017
Nigerian women are bleaching everyday, these people just want to make money off the craze
— Flavored lepa (@mizzayo) October 18, 2017
Black and beautiful. It all depends on the environment ur brought up in and the attitudes of your peers whose opinions you care about
— Ruth Yetunde (@miss_oyeyiola) October 18, 2017
As we all know, this conversation is not at all new. The same companies which sell skin bleaching products across Africa and Asia are the same ones boosting messages of self-acceptance to consumers in North America—both in attempt to capitalize off perceived consumer trends.
But we aren't all as oblivious to their bullshit as they'd like to think. More and more, we see people taking a stand against such patronizing messaging both on and off the continent.
Check out the video below via, AJ+ to see how women in Ghana are fighting skin bleaching.