The Whitening of Women


L'Oreal's most recent campaign photo, at right.

L'Oreal's most recent campaign photo, at right.

Nearly everyone is aware of the large scale airbrushing that goes into glossy magazine photos, primarily for women, in order to “smooth over” any slight imperfections that may occur (this can of course range from a pimple on the day of a photo shoot to oh, say, 25 pounds that are always there).  Many of you may remember Keira Knightly recently protesting the “upgrading” of her breasts in the photo ads for one of her new movies, but this was the exception to the rule.  Most of the time this stuff goes undiscussed and largely unnoticed.  This time, however, L’Oreal is coming under some scrutiny for what is a fairly obvious “whitening” of Beyonce for their newest ad campaign.  The image above juxtaposes the campaign photo with a recent shot of Beyonce at an event.  It seems pretty obvious to me, but L’Oreal claims they did not lighten her image.  Sounds like a bunch of hooey to me.  The mass airbrushing that goes on to “perfect” women’s real traits is bad enough, but this seems particularly egregious.  And certainly sends a pretty poor image to the millions of girls constantly bombarded with these sorts of messages. Thoughts?


One response to “The Whitening of Women

  1. polisciafterparty

    Way back in my college days, I took an African American studies class that dealt with, among other things, what the culture of celebrity does/has done to black culture. The whitening of famous and beautiful black women figured prominently in our discussions. Essentially, in addition to the broader issue of creating an artificial, and unattainable, “standard” of beauty, modifications like this also send a message about the beauty of whiteness as opposed to blackness. Though I cannot speak for people of color, my guess is that such whitening of black celebrities can be seen as a condition for an invitation into the dominant culture (that is, to appeal to the White American Consumer). One has to be careful, however, since the economic significance of the black community is constantly growing- and they may have a different opinion about whether black is indeed beautiful.

    – Legal Eagle

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