MANILA, Philippines – In what may be an effort (albeit very misguided) to be woke, SkinWhite recently released an ad in which they appear to have committed blackface.
In the ad for the skin whitening brand posted on social media, sisters Marianne and Martha Bibal are shown side by side, with their hair braided together. One twin sports blonde hair and fair skin, while the other has dark hair and tan skin.
The copy reads “Dark or White. You Are Beautiful,” and is appended with the hashtag “#DarkorWhiteisBeautiful.”
Dark or White. You Are Beautiful #DarkorWhiteisBeautiful pic.twitter.com/FmqaCGykaI — SkinWhite (@SkinWhitePH) April 3, 2019
The ad preaches an empowering message in a Southeast Asian country that’s been plagued by predominantly Eurocentric beauty standards, and some people appreciated the ad's tagline.
However others were quick to note that the model with the tan skin was not naturally dark, which implies that she was wearing blackface.
Blackface is the term used to refer to when a person is made to look like a person of color – particularly a black person – through makeup. The practice has a deeply racist history, and dates back to a time when white entertainers in the United States would portray derogatory black stereotypes by darkening their skin and exaggerating their features.
On Twitter, many netizens weighed in on the ad.
Many pointed out that one of the models was made to wear blackface, and wondered why the brand couldn’t just hire a morena model.
The cognitive dissonance in this ad is deafening. — Jacques (@JAKZstone) April 5, 2019
1. It's obvious that you're just doing this for idk, publicity, sales, or more investors (?) bc you are literally called SkinWHITE. All your products are labeled SkinWHITE. 2. Why do blackface? If you really believe that all skin colors are beautiful, why not hire a morena model? https://t.co/TCEBAYvrNx — nica (@nicarodriguezz) April 5, 2019
i personally know a twin that was in the video, kakakita ko lang sa kanila last week at alam kong they're black faced sa digital ad na ito. MYGAHD SKINWHITE https://t.co/l577Wbvxey — trina (@trinagarrido) April 5, 2019
I repeat, you CANNOT preach acceptance of dark skin when you DON’T EVEN USE A REAL DARK SKINNED MODEL FOR YOUR CAMPAIGN. There are so many beautiful dark skinned models yet you chose to do blackface instead? Explain @SkinWhitePH (Photos are Marianne and Martha respectively.) pic.twitter.com/3mHaQ9Hjk6 — Iris Vicencio (@irisvicencio) April 5, 2019
Others also noted that the ad was tone deaf, especially as it markets a product whose main selling point is to lighten one’s skin.
"But dark is also beautiful, hija. Remember that.""So I don't need to buy Skinwhite na to get lighter?""Ah no, buy pa rin. Kase it'll help you be beautiful." — Ethel (@econcepcion) April 5, 2019
Meron ba kayong bagong product SkinWhite? Is it SkinDark? https://t.co/wTC8fH8tL6 — Crei (@CouJin23) April 5, 2019
Pero di ba whitening soaps and lotions ang products ng SKINWHITE? so I'm like pic.twitter.com/jEulZgHyuc — Kristine (@kadgonzaga) April 5, 2019
The SkinWhite ad is the latest incident wherein the public decried the inherent racism and Eurocentrism in mainstream Filipino media.