Author Topic: Whiter-Skin Ad Campaign Spurs Debate Among Thais  (Read 2421 times)

Offline Johnnie F.

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Whiter-Skin Ad Campaign Spurs Debate Among Thais
« on: October 26, 2013, 06:15:49 PM »
Whiter-Skin Ad Campaign Spurs Debate Among Thais

BANGKOK—An ad campaign for a skin-whitening product in Thailand has sparked a debate over whether having lighter skin leads to better-paying jobs and higher social status in the Southeast Asian country.

Social media sites were filled with messages that explored the role of skin color in Thai society following a recent ad campaign by Unilever's ULVR.LN -0.64% Thailand operation for its Citra Pearly White UV Body Lotion.

Citra Pearly White UV Lotion products fill a shelf in a Bangkok supermarket. Warangkana Chomchuen/The Wall Street Journal

Unilever apologized and pulled the ad—which ran for a couple of weeks on Thai television, YouTube and a Unilever's Citra Facebook FB -0.94% page—on Wednesday in response to a "number of comments," it said. But it is continuing a competition—with a 100,000 baht, or $3,200, prize—for the college student judged to best demonstrate "product efficacy."

On, a popular Thai-language forum, members debated whether the company had crossed a line.

"This is disgusting. What should I do when I was born dark? Do I have to [make myself white] first before I can get a scholarship? [I will] ban this product from now on," said a Pantip user who goes by "Middle Child. Youngest Sister."

Another wrote, "the discrimination against dark people is unacceptable. It is just a skin tone. It has nothing to do with who people really are. Citra is sick."

But another Pantip member defended Unilever, saying, "the company wants to sell a whitening product, so the ad features a light-skin girl. It totally makes sense. It isn't discriminating."

When asked by The Wall Street Journal about the campaign's objective and why it decided to continue the competition, Unilever Thai Services said that, "skin care products are popular among people in Thailand, who suggest they help them feel good and increase their self esteem. We're committed to improving the well-being of Thai consumers and it is always our intention to empower people, never offend them."

The backlash isn't the first time that Thais tapped the power of online and social media to pressure companies selling whitening products to remove their ads. In 2011, Bangkok-based Oishi Group OISHI.TH 0.00% PLC advertised a drink that would brighten complexion, putting banners reading "Reserved for White People" above passenger seats on Bangkok's elevated train. After complaints, the train operator removed the banners.

But the whitening products appeal to some Thais, who feel that having lighter skin not only affects how they are perceived in terms of attractiveness but also affects their social status.

Chanikarn Kittikul, a 16-year-old high-school student, saw the ad and said she would give the product a try.

"The ad highlights the difference between white- and dark-skin women very clearly," she said. "It makes me want to try it because I want to have a brighter, whiter skin like that."

The preoccupation with skin tone has a long history in Thailand, anthropologists point out, as seen in Thai literature and mural paintings. Darker skin tone has been associated with peasants and field workers, while people with lighter skin were thought to have higher economic or political status—for example, merchants or civil servants who didn't work outdoors.

The desire for lighter skin tone was later influenced by the influx in the early 19th century of East Asian nationals, predominantly the Chinese and Japanese, who generally have lighter complexions than Thais, said Yukti Mukdawijitra, an anthropology professor at Bangkok's Thammasat University.

Despite periods of resentment by Thais toward the Chinese and Japanese, the business success of the immigrants and their clout helped cement the perception of a connection between complexion and class in the country, Mr. Yukti said.

"Having a lighter skin makes people feel that they belong to a higher class, or have a better chance to climb the social ladder," he said.

The appeal of porcelain-like skin has been reinforced by popular light-skinned models and actors. Meanwhile, "those who have a naturally dark complexion have developed a self-esteem problem that is now becoming a national crisis," Mr. Yukti said.

The continuing campaign of Unilever Thai Services Limited involves students submitting photographs of themselves with a Citra product through the end of October. Fifty finalists will be selected by votes on social media sites, based on the information on the product's Facebook page last week, and then the winner will be picked in mid-November.

All finalists will get a one-year supply of Citra, the company said.

Wall Street Journal

Offline Al

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Re: Whiter-Skin Ad Campaign Spurs Debate Among Thais
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2013, 09:24:46 PM »
I have always had a bit of a hard time understanding the thought process here.  Thailand is a tropical country with many months of blazing sun that scorches everything it touches.  To worry about skin color in this climate just seems kind of silly in that one must avoid the sun at all times in order to stay white.


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Re: Whiter-Skin Ad Campaign Spurs Debate Among Thais
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2013, 07:32:55 AM »
White skin is seen as superior to the dark skin of people who work outdoors. That is why many ladies whiten their skin beyond a degree that suits their hair and eye colours or their other features. Skin colour isn't to do with sun tan in this instance. It's genetic and the ladies are burning their skin in order to destroy it's natural colour.

We can probably thank the inane soap operas for the spread of this nonsense.

Offline Roger

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Re: Whiter-Skin Ad Campaign Spurs Debate Among Thais
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2013, 06:57:30 PM »
Al and Saf - I couldn't agree with you more. This is a  bl**dy world-wide con trick fostered for decades and decades by rascals like 'Cheeseborough-Ponds' and other multi-national pharma/cosmetic Companies. Frankly it drives me potty. I battle it regularly with both the Wife and her 17 year old Daughter.
I first saw this evil stuff in Africa when I worked there for years. Of course, even jet black Nigerians should be a bit whiter - nonsense (as you say).
Yes - now spread by soap-operas who got it first from a culture promoted by the pharma/cosmetic industry to sell 100% superfluous and unnecessary high priced trash.
Nice evening all.

Offline Baby Farts

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Re: Whiter-Skin Ad Campaign Spurs Debate Among Thais
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2013, 08:26:01 PM »
Interesting how we foreigners are doing just the opposite, trying to get that golden tan by laying in the sun.  :evilgrin


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Re: Whiter-Skin Ad Campaign Spurs Debate Among Thais
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2013, 07:32:33 AM »
Not me. I neither lie nor lay in the sun here.

Offline Roger

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Re: Whiter-Skin Ad Campaign Spurs Debate Among Thais
« Reply #6 on: October 28, 2013, 09:23:47 AM »
Not me neither ! Sun is just too strong for sunbathing and sometimes a t-shirt is a good idea when swimming.
BUT get a dose of sun for Vitamin D when you can - wear shorts only in the sun for a while - but at 7am, 8am 'ish when not too strong.
BF - Europe still has Salons just for tanning, despite the known risks. Crazy World.

Offline thaiga

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Re: Whiter-Skin Ad Campaign Spurs Debate Among Thais
« Reply #7 on: October 28, 2013, 01:23:18 PM »
News travels fast -

An advert for a skin-whitening cream that appeared to offer university scholarships to students with fairer skin has stoked a debate over racism in Thailand, where Unilever – the company behind the ad – has been forced to apologise for any "misunderstandings".
Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Offline thaiga

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Re: Comfortable in your own skin
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2013, 01:09:21 PM »
Thailand's whitening creams: Comfortable in your own skin?

Mew Mew with a skin-whitening product.

PHUKET: -- It’s been a dark few weeks for skin-whitening companies in Asia.

First there was the October 23 public apology by Japanese cosmetics giant Kanebo, following their shocking announcement that around 15,000 consumers of their skin-whitening creams had developed blotches on their skin.

A day later, Thai cosmetics company Citra Thailand rejected allegations that their campaign to find the university girl with the whitest skin – officially, the ‘Citra Search for Clear, Soft and Glowing Skin’ – was not promoting racial discrimination, or implying that white was good and dark was bad.

Netizens disagreed.

In fact, a brief stroll through the cosmetics section at any supermarket, a flick through any Thai magazine, or even just watching local TV, it is quite easy to see why Thailand’s online populace disagreed – having white skin is big business in the Kingdom.

Former model Phatsorn ‘Mew Mew’ Akaradejthananant has four branches of her Rassarin beauty and cosmetic stores in Phuket; one in Patong and three in Phuket Town.

As well as numerous anti-ageing creams and lotions, Mew Mew’s other big sellers are her Rassarin-branded skin-whitening creams. All of her products are made in Phuket.

She stresses to The Phuket News that all ingredients used are safe and legal, such as vitamin C, vitamin B3 and kojic acid.

The latter is a mild inhibitor of pigment in plant and animal tissues. It is used in various foods and cosmetics to preserve or change colours of substances.

It also increases skin sensitivity and decreases the amount of melanin in your skin, meaning users must be careful about being out in the sun.

Mew Mew says she sells her Rassarin products mostly to young Thai women, though she does also have male and foreign customers of all ages. However, the results are not standard across the board.

“People have different skin colours, so it’s impossible for everyone to have white skin.

“For many with dark skin they choose to have the glutathione injection which is very dangerous. This gives the skin a brighter tone. We do not offer it here.”

The injection was not originally intended for its whitening effect though.

According to online medical site WebMD, “Healthcare providers give glutathione as a shot (by injection into the muscle) for preventing poisonous side effects of cancer treatment (chemotherapy) and for treating the inability to father a child (male infertility).”

In a recent interview with The Bangkok Post, to promote a series of lectures he was giving in the capital, Canadian physician and glutathione expert Dr Jimmy Gutman, said, “In North America people don't want their skin to be whiter than it is.

“It's kind of disappointing to see people here trying to use glutathione to whiten their skin. Besides, the fact is that taking it orally as a pill or powder doesn't work – it's a waste of your money."

He also questions the safety of injecting the substance for the sake of vanity. "In the ER, we inject a drug that raises glutathione level as an antidote to paracetamol overdose," he said.

"If you use it as an injected whitening agent, it's not very physiologically effective because cells have an innate intelligence to limit the amount of glutathione produced. So there's no point raising it to a high level and moreover we don't know about the long-term safety."

Although not illegal, the US Food Drug Administration has also not classified glutathione as 100 per cent safe. Despite this, there are many clinics on Phuket that do offer the service.

Mew Mew believes that one of the reasons Thai women go through such risk in the pursuit of perceived beauty is to feel better by “looking better”.

“All the actresses and singers on TV are white. Thai women feel more confident and like to compare with their friends to see who is whiter.

“They think it’s more beautiful to have white skin.”

As ever, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.

Offline negrita

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Re: Whiter-Skin Ad Campaign Spurs Debate Among Thais
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2013, 03:10:08 PM »
Interesting isn't it.

Many Asians want to get white skin and many caucasians rush to the sun to get brown skin.

Be happy with what you are and remember true beauty comes from within.  :wai