Sunday, October 22, 2006

"So young...So pretty...So white!" And More Attacks on Black Women's Collective Self Image

Sigh. Too much for words.

From (equality for African people):

‘Black’ hair magazine promotes immoral and harmful products
Mon 18 September 2006

"The magazine claims to be ‘for the beauty conscious black woman’ but has been criticised by the community for endorsing products that encourage African women to ‘lighten’, ‘brighten’ and ‘bleach’ their skin tone. The process often includes the use of products containing quantities of anti-melanin agents that are bordering the legal recommended guidelines. The August/September issue of the magazine features over twelve full page adverts for these products. One ad in particular, called ‘So White’, features the tagline ‘So pretty...So white!’ and is marketed to attract the impressionable young female consumer."

Ok, so I found some words...Skin bleaching has been a topic in the Naturally You! group before. There are many products out there that claim to even out dark spots and give us a more even complexion. However, I must say this is the most blatant I have seen, outright telling women that if we apply this product, it will make us white. There are women using these bleaching creams on their entire bodies in an attempt to do just that.

"They also feature advertisements for hair relaxer aimed at young children and another advert for 'Dr Miracles Thermalceutical Intensive Relaxer' which describes a woman with her natural hair as “yuck whilst depicting her after the use of ‘Dr Miracles’ with ‘nice’ straight hair. Hair relaxers are known to cause hair breakage, hair loss, rashes, eye damage including blindness, dermatitis, scalp irritation and scarring and even alopecia."

The fact that Dr. Miracles portrays natural hair as unattractive and depressing is bad enough. That the ad goes on to depict the ability to make natural hair look "nice" as a miracle is just plain offensive. At this point Dr Miracles has created quite a name for itself in the natural community for its many offensive ads.

Click here to read more from>>

Click here to see more ads >>

Ads for products that imply or state outright that Black women need to dramatically change their looks in order to be attractive (fade creams, relaxers, extension hair) are what keep many Black hair and beauty magazines afloat. This is a big part of the reason there is not one mainstream natural hair care magazine - it wouldn't make sense to publish these kinds of ads in one, and these are often the companies who are the most willing (and able) to advertise.

Natural hair care is simply a much smaller market, as is the natural beauty segment in general, though it is growing. These companies (the magazines and the beauty products) are simply giving the people what they want, and this is what we (our community as a whole, that is) say we want with our dollars. They are not concerned with how this affects the Black community, and even if they are the need to make money is winning out. They are interested in building and maintaining profitable businesses.

You can make a huge impact on the beauty industry as a whole by investing your money in companies that serve your interests as a Black woman who is comfortable in her own skin (or getting there!). The simple act of buying products from these companies and telling someone about it if you like them is a revolutionary act. The more Carol's Daughters we have - and right now we only have one! - the more big business will start to notice that they need to get on board and quick. A group of celebrities recently invested 10 Million dollars in Carol's Daughter, seeing that it has the potential to compete with major product manufacturers on a larger scale. Many of the biggest hair product manufacturers are responding to our changing buying habits, as I'm sure you have noticed "natural" products popping up all over the place.

Every one of us can make an impact - more Carol's Daughters, less Dr Miracles!


ChosenVessel said...

This is very informative. I actually started using Carol's Daughter products when I got my Sisterlocks and I love the products. I like that they are natural and also made by someone who understands the needs of black women.

Thank you,

bc said...

Goodness - what a throwback! Does the person/company who created the ad not realize that this is not the 1950s?? The natural hair market is small and growing but I'm wondering what the market is for the bleaching product - or for "Dr. Miracle" (it'll make miracles alright! :))? Unless these are lesser known product lines from one of the corporate giants - e.g. proctor & gamble or alberto culver, I wonder how much money there is in these product lines anyway. I like to think that ignorance is on the way out (although some are stubbornly clinging to it). So maybe these kinds of marketing campaigns will disappear gradually in the next few years.

QueenLi said...


This is just my opinion, but the curly/puffy hair {in the "Miracle" picture/ad} Looks better to me than the bone-straight hair!


Oya Bi said...

Dear Naturally You folks,

I am a relatively natural woman and a priest of Ocha, so I'm very picky about what goes on my head! How disturbed (yet not really shocked) I was to see a good girlfriend of mine in one of the ads. The issue is complicated. The friend, who is a popular model in European and African markets, is actually the daughter of a deceased Black Panther and is very much a pro-Black and body-positive sista... but she's got to work! In the US, she's a plus-size model for being a size 8 and refusing to starve herself anymore!! For my own part, like many women of color, I have lupus and a combination of salicylic acid-AHA- hydroquinone product, plus a nightly layer shea butter mixed with natural sulfur, plus daily 30SPF sunscreen seems to be the only thing lightening up my erstwhile lesions (by the bye, is this safe(ish)?). The topic is complicated, yes? Of course, we need more Carol's Daughters (and just plain good sense, in general), but everything ain't for everybody, right? I look forward to more conversation on the topic. Keep up the good work, Naturally You!

Anonymous said...

ACK! Don't those folks know this is 2006. What is so wrong with natural hair? and that bit about So white...WTF?

saltwater taffy said...

the fact that sistas are dying on the continent from using skin bleaching products is simply tragic. and these are people who are, for all intents & purposes, seeing a majority of blk folks day in & day out.

choosing to perm or not perm is one thing. but dying to be light skinned is one step from insanity.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say thank for exposing these racist ads,I'm from Haiti and lighntning cream are a big problem. I can't tell you how many freinds destroyed their natural skin color to look white.And don't even talk about natural, being natural is a foreign concept in Haiti. I f went back how with the ways my lucuis natural hair is right now they would look at me as if i was an alien from another planet. That why I don't buy these Mags. Thank God for you r magazine. I hope it's ok I just linked your post to this blog that deals with race issues

I hope they post it on their blog and more people get to read it.



Anonymous said...

I agree with you, bc--it is a disgrace that these products still exist.

In addition to Carol's Daughter, I've used Oyin, which is also all natural; it just doesn't have celebrity backing yet ;o)

Anonymous said...

whats even worse than the ad the author is referring to is the 2007 version where not only is the sistah NATURAL, but she has LOCKS as she sits there in the mcCauley Caulkin pose, the caption reads something like " A Hot Mess" need Dr. Miracles. *Shakin' my head*

Anonymous said...

It's funny because it's fairly apparent -- at least to me -- that the person in the picture does not even have Dr. Miracle Relaxer in let alone ANY relaxer in her hair -- and that's a mess in itself.