White Perfect

Given the recent heated debate over the whole Beyoncé L’Oréal ad, I felt compelled to write about a little experience I had in India. Actually, one of many.

White Perfect by L’Oréal

It’s no surprise that beauty companies regularly pander to the insecurities of darker skinned women everywhere. And yes, I will say insecurities, because those of us of a deeper hue are constantly reminded that we are less than perfect-that if our hair was a little straighter (or mixed and curly), a little longer, and our skin a little lighter and brighter, then we would perhaps be a little better off. These persistent reminders can chip away at even the most head-strong, self-loving sister.

I wrote about how I felt as if I were a freak during my last visit to India. It was as if many people had never seen a Black person before. But what bugged me out was that I saw several Indians that were my shade, and some even darker than me. Yet, they were always quick to insist that they were Indian, and not Black. Anything but Black.

I was watching TV in Goa, south India, and an ad for L’Oréal’s new product, “White Perfect” came on. It’s important to mention Goa, because there are mostly darker-skinned Indians in the south of the country. I glanced at my friend incredulously. That couldn’t be serious! Is the hatred of dark skin so profound that a beauty company could be so bold as to name a product “White Perfect”? Does black become imperfect? Who was the marketing genius behind this ploy? Yes, lightening creams have existed for ages, but this product is obscene in both concept and delivery.

Loréal advertisement for White Perfect cream; in Spanish, but you get the idea.

In a statement, a representative from L’Oréal states:
“Beyoncé Knowles has been a spokesperson for the L’Oréal Paris brand since 2001,” the company said in a statement to E! News, after coming under withering online attacks suggesting the ad lightened more than just the hair color of the brand’s famous face.

“We highly value our relationship with Ms. Knowles. It is categorically untrue that L’Oréal Paris altered Ms. Knowles’ features or skin-tone in the campaign for Feria’s hair color.”

But if we take a look at most of L’Oréal’s ads we can see a consistent skin tone among celebrities with a wide range of hues. How is that possible, Loréal? And how can I trust that a company offering a product called “White Perfect” have no underlying intentions of perpetuating a centuries-old hatred of color? I’ve never seen this product advertsised here, and I’m sure it would cause an uproar. Black American women have the Beyonce ad, darked-skinned Asian women have “White Perfect”.

Aishwarya is Indian, and for some the prototype.

They all

the same.

Wow, Kerry’s almost the same shade as Beyonce!



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  1. Anonymous

    Good evening,

    Looks like this story is everywhere. I know for a fact that other countries atill suffer with the whole complexion issue and that’s unfortunate. Change happens one by one and that’s all I can say. I do wish people would remember that many times the model has no final say so over the image, so I certainly don’t hold Beyonce’ at fault. Lastly, I personally don’t have a problem with the picture. If anyone would take a moment and look at her from childhood on, she is indeed light or as I am called “high yellow”. In cooler months I look like a banana, and in summer, I’m nice and coppery. None of us has anything to do with what we look like, and I really just wish we as a community would focus more on issues such as literacy, teen pregnancy, and education. Doing something to make things better for the mnext generation and maybe spend less time on hue and color.

  2. I the saw the ad for Beyonce and Kerry Washington in the new Elle magazine and I was taken aback how they both appear to have Anglo features all of a sudden. Have these people forgotten that women of color read these magazines and we know a fraud when we see it? I a fan of both but, Beyonce’s ad makes her appear as if she has aged by 40 years. The first thing that I said to myself is that she doesn’t look good in this ad.

    For India and all of the other women of color the world over, the standard of beauty is lighter skin and having closer to Anglo features. Don’t forget India was colonized by the British and self hatred is ingrained in the psyche of many. India also has a caste system which too is also characterized by color with the darker ones being at the bottom. Have you ever seen any dark skinned Bollywood stars?

    Regardless of what we are fed as to what is the beauty idea, I’m finding that many women of color are no longer buying into the subliminal messages of beauty. Many are owning their own beauty and don’t really give a damn if anyone likes it or not. They are rocking what God gave them and if anyone has a problem with how they wear their hair and what hue their skin tone is, then they need to take it up with GOD because they have other things to do beside worrying about the Anglos version of Beauty.

    Sure they rule the media but does that mean we have to buy into it? We are a consumer driven society and the power of the purse (women) rule the economy and yet they remain voiceless and don‘t receive anything in return but more negative ad campaigns to make them feel worthless. And as long as they can keep women in a sense of proverbial self-doubt and low self-esteem they will always profit and many women will continue being the bearer of a sad case of low self- worth.

    Women are taught that their main reason on this earth is to get a man and not just a man, but any man at all cost. You have to buy the clothes and accessories to look your best to snag one. So what do they do? They get into debt buying clothes and other material things because the media says you must have them so that you can compete with other females for the attention of a member of the male species, please. Learn to look good because you want to present the best image of yourself to the world and not for anyone else’s enjoyment.

    If any of you are parents please teach your children to have a strong sense of self worth, so that it will be impenetrable by anyone and that includes the Anglo-Judeo owned media. I’m glad mine did!

    I’m sorry to rant but this makes me angry, especially when the Black owned media does the exact same thing and as consumers many people ignore it and still shop and not withhold their money.

    Anyway check out the September issue of Town and Country magazine, it’s got a nice thirteen page fashion spread of a Model of Color. Yes I am on a Black model and fashion ad search. Is it me or has anyone else notice that we have been missing from the pages of many major fashion magazines?

  3. anon 10:41, I understand your statement, and agree with you fully. The whole intention of this particular article was never to get on Beyonce or any other celebrity. In fact, I am well aware that beyonce is a very fair woman, and has always been, unless she has a tan. My questions and frustrations were directed solely at L’Oréal and other beauty company’s push towards brighter, lighter, and in this case blond. Beyoncé is not blond, and this particular hue looks terrible on her.

    I too, also agree that we as a community need to focus on community issues such as education, welfare, and affordable housing. But a fundamental reason of the community not being able to rise up and out is the self-hatred that resounds in our people. It may sound frivolous to some to focus on aesthetics but I believe we must get over this essential road-bump in order to truly love ourselves and move on.

    Maybe the solution is, as Divalocity stated, to not support these companies, and lend our money and efforts to those companies that fully and truly embrace the beauty of Black skin.

  4. i’m in india. and see everywhere those get fair ads. so f* up.
    in europe everyone wants to get brown.

    to bollywood. actually some of the stars are darker. but the use bright light and put them damn much make up. whateva. they grown up like this. and it’s there mentality.

    I tried to search once get browner fast suncream. (there is once sun bronze spray from l’oreal) in india. before my trip to goa. there was nothing. and everyone looked shockd whn i askd them. that’s weird.

    we all know brown is the nice color. so who cares? what others say or think.

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