A bodywash too white, Dove too racially blind to see

First Published 9, Oct 2017, 1:20 PM IST
A bodywash too white Dove too racially blind to see
  • Dove’s new ad stinks of racism, we wonder why they didn’t see it first
  • Its new ad for a bodywash is more about the 'racial insensitivity' more than anything
  • Focussing on a purely white American audience, the ad makers seem to have forgotten how they are repeatedly promoting racial stereotypes unwittingly

Years of championing what is ‘real beauty’, defining beauty, and basically challenging beauty standards, Dove has finally gone too far.

A recent advert on social media did not convey the desired message but rather backfired spectacularly on them. The ad depicts a black woman lifting her t-shirt to reveal a white woman underneath. And an Asian woman slightly tan also taking off her tshirt to reveal a fairer, whiter woman. 

The ad is for a bodywash and on the surface it appears as if the company is saying if you want to wash off your black dirty skin and turn white the Dove product is the one to use. Didn’t anyone just look again at what layers they are peeling off? If they were going for the ‘everybody is same underneath the skin idea’ - clearly they are way off the mark. Some have come out in defence of the company saying that the ad does not necessarily advocate the change. Would the comments have been different the ad had been done in reverse?

Femvertising (ads directed towards females specifically) gone too far in this case. Dove has always striven to challenge the beauty standards but this ad mixing colour and beauty was certainly done in poor taste and all it required was for a little more soul searching and brains on the part of the marketing team as well as the ad department.

Focussing on a purely white American audience, the ad makers seem to have forgotten how they are repeatedly promoting racial stereotypes unwittingly and a mere apology every time will not get them off the hook. You could give them the benefit of the doubt that it was a one time badly-executed ad campaign but a peek into their history proves its not their first offence in this area. 

The black-white divide in America is a sizzling issue and a simple ad as this is enough to flare sentiments on both sides. Commenters on the ad could be seen talking about cultural appropriation and the attempts of how dark skinned people try to emulate the standards of beauty set by white people. Clearly a very touchy topic in America and abroad.  


Not to mention this is the second time they are up to this. A previous ad showed women of colour standing in the before column and a white woman standing in the after column. Anyone will be able to see how the ad went – when you are brown/black your skin is dirty and using Dove’s bodywash one can visibly ‘improve their looks’.


Well, there you have it: All you people going in for botox and cosmetic surgeries should have just used Dove bodywash in the first place – It is a miracle wash that changes your body colour from black to white.

The whole uncovering the skin holds true for India as well where Dove has a growing market. Our obsession with fairness creams, white skin and disdain towards dark complexioned people works to fill their coffers. Remember the Kalyan Jewellers ad with Aishwarya Rai Bachchan playing princess?

In the ad Aishwarya, sits resplendent in jewellery and princess-like while a dark complexioned small child dressed as  a slave is holding an umbrella over her head.

The ad has certainly reawakened the conversation on skin colour and race. It exposes how challenging it for women and the ideals they have to live upto – from body to their skin, for everything there is an ideal set for them or rather they have imbibed them as their goal. Asking people to come out of their blinkered existence is what is proving to be difficult and companies like Dove, Lakme, Ponds, Fair and Lovely, Olay etc are just making sure the blinkers are tied on tighter.