Bans On Skin-Bleaching Agents Likely Not Effective As Long As Skin-Lightening Industry Continues ‘Colorist Advertising’

Washington Post: Dangerous skin bleaching has become a public health crisis. Corporate marketing lies behind it.
Ramya M. Vijaya, professor of economics at Stockton University

“In the past several years, multinational corporations have heavily marketed the idea that lighter skin leads to more prosperity. As a result, dangerous skin bleaching has become a public health crisis, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In response, the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) recently passed a resolution recommending a regional ban on cosmetics with hydroquinone, a skin-bleaching agent — a ban that looks likely to pass. … Despite these warnings and bans, the skin-whitening industry has experienced phenomenal growth in parts of Asia and Africa in recent years. … This new global marketing has created a segmentation or a split in the industry. While multinational brands target the middle class and link skin tones to economic success, low-income, working-class consumers who are priced out of the higher-end branded products have sought out cheaper, local products with harmful bleaching agents such as hydroquinone. … Bans on bleaching agents in individual countries or regions are likely to be ineffective as long as multinational corporations continue to aggressively market globalized, whiteness-based notions of beauty and social mobility. … Without coordinated global effort against multinationals’ colorist advertising, including social media and other consumer activism, bans alone are likely to remain ineffective” (6/15).