Asia’s obsession with lighter skin may have taken a step too far in a new Thai beauty ad that’s being called racist and offensive.
The advertisement for Snowz pills has been met with criticism for the prejudice it perpetuates. The 50-second commercial sponsored by Thai beauty company Seoul Secret tells viewers that white skin is more desirable than darker skin. The pale-skinned actress featured in the ad, Cris Horwang, says in the video:
“Just being white, you will win.”
Horwang warns in the ad that without the product, “the whiteness I have invested in, will just vanish.”
The actress’s skin is then digitally transformed to turn black as her beaming smile disappears. Immediately following, Horwang is juxtaposed to another actress in the ad with lighter skin who looks envious and insecure. At the end Horwang guarantees to viewers that Snowz “will help you not to return to being dark.”
She leaves them with her final words:
“Eternally white, I am confident.”
After receiving an enormous amount of backlash online, Seoul Secret pulled the video from its online platforms on Friday evening. The company issued the following statement:
“(We) would like to apologize for the mistake and claim full responsibility for this incident. Our company did not have any intention to convey discriminatory or racist messages.
“What we intended to convey was that self-improvement in terms of personality, appearance, skills, and professionality (sic) is crucial.”
Sociology and anthropology professor Yukti Mukdawijitra of Thailand’s Thammasat University told CNN that though the ad is gone, the ideals it perpetuates still exists. The pattern of racism and discrimination towards skin color has been prevalent in Thailand for “centuries,” but Western influence has also contributed to it. He said:
“Thai society wants to be a part of international society, so ideas of beauty are transferred from the West to Thailand as well.
“Those who look Western, those who are white, those who have bodies that look like Westerners’, become preferable — in a way, people in Thailand internalize a colonial attitude into themselves.”
Lighter skin is desirable because of its association with status and privilege within a multi-ethnic society. He continued:
“It’s fine that you prefer white colors, but it doesn’t make sense to prefer being white.”