Saturday, August 21, 2010

Spotted in a pharmacy window:

Gobineau would have had a field day.

Oh, and for those who don't read French, "race" when used in reference to dogs just means "breed," although it means "race" when referring to people. The other poster, however, is explaining that non-white women have "more demanding" skin.


Britta said...

What a strange window display. Why would a cosmetics store(?) decide to go with the dog breed link?
This reminds me of a disturbing ad I once saw in the subway in Korea. The ad was just the giant profiles of two gorgeous women, one a white woman who was practically colorless and the other a black woman with incredibly dark blue-black skin. The women were facing each other, and underneath was the name of a skin whitening cream. I took a photo of it because I was kind of puzzled and disturbed--was the ad implying the black woman could become the white woman? The women looked completely different in terms of facial features, so that didn't seem to make sense. Both women were so beautiful it was not obviously an ugly/black pretty/white dichotomy, but maybe to Koreans dark skin and African features are automatically ugly?
Anyways, that's my two cents of strange and probably racially problematic advertising in foreign countries.

Britta said...

Oh, I just re-looked at the photo. It doesn't just have the name of a whitening cream, at actually says, in English, "go white." Even weirder.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

It was in a pharmacy, but a pharmacy (as you may recall) is a mix of the pharmacy part of a US drugstore and a super-fancy makeup shop. Well, perhaps less expensive than Sephora or a department store, but not CVS/Rite Aid/Walgreens, either. Where the dogs enter into it is anyone's guess.

It didn't occur to me that this might be an ad for a whitening cream. I figured it was like when hair products are either for "normal" hair or ethnic hair - as though hair is behaving abnormally as it naturally grows out of the head of most of the world's women. As in, even if you're not trying to make kinky hair straight or dark skin white, you still need to get products in an aisle set apart from the one for "normal" people - defining non-white women as inherently high-maintenance. (Yes, this is an issue I get riled up about.)

To get scientific about it... according to the website, it's a special cream (?) for black and "mixed" women, whose skin is, they claim, particularly sensitive to environmental factors. Not sure what that means - if anything, the very pale are more prone to skin problems relating to the sun. Other than that, I would think pollution or whatever else would be race-blind.

PG said...

Not sure what that means - if anything, the very pale are more prone to skin problems relating to the sun. Other than that, I would think pollution or whatever else would be race-blind.

Speaking very generally, don't Caucasians tend to get lines and wrinkles more easily (all else, including sun exposure, being equal) than people of other races? I would have thought white women thus had the more-demanding skin, i.e. needing more externally-applied moisturizers and such.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...


I thought white women are thought to wrinkle more because sun has a more visible impact on pale skin? But whatever the cause, yes, this should make the "difficult" skin be that of white women, if anyone.

But "difficult" is always defined as that which the "normal" aisle can't handle, which is to say, non-white. It's not ridiculous or racist to say that different skin colors take different foundation colors, or different hair textures different shampoos. The problem comes when some skin and hair is "different" but other gets classified as "normal." This is most practically a problem when a "different"- haired woman has to contend with hotel shampoo, particularly when the hotel opts to assume that the average hotel guest wants "volumizing." (Not that I have any experience of this...)