Unilever's Fair & Lovely

12 July 2008

“Your Skin Color is not a Stain!”: L.A. Teen Takes on Unilever’s Bigotry

by Freddy Tran Nager, Founder of Atomic Tango + No Fan of Double Standards…

Delia Rose is mad as hell. The L.A. teenager is calling for a boycott of Unilever. The reason? The skin-whiteners that the corporate behemoth distributes and promotes in Pakistan and other Eastern countries under the name Fair & Lovely

For Delia, it’s also personal: part-Latino, she has the beautiful skin tone that millions of white women are risking melanoma to attain by tanning, but which Fair & Lovely appears to hold in contempt.

And that brings up the hypocrisy: in the West, Unilever’s campaign for its Dove brand is encouraging women to appreciate their “real beauty”…

The promise for inner beauty
This promise is at the heart of the brand and is the main driver behind our global Campaign For Real Beauty. For too long, beauty has been strictly defined by narrow, stifling, unrealistic rules. And many women agree. We believe real beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and ages. Dove aims to change the status quo, break down the stereotypes and encourage a healthier and broader view of beauty.

I guess one’s attitude towards women and race pulls a 180 upon switching hemispheres, huh Unilver? (Even the Dove “Real Beauty” campaign is not without its controversy. Apparently, master photo retoucher Pascal Dangin was hired to make the “real beauty” models, uh, really beautiful.)

At a time when both women and African-Americans are making serious political waves in the U.S., it’s stunning that Unilever is still carrying Fair & Lovely. Delia obviously has the moral high ground here — but she has her work cut out for her.

I recently heard about Delia’s campaign through her mother, and I’m always eager to support the next generation of anti-Neanderthal activists. Here’s hoping we adults can help their voices be heard…

Contact Unilever here or email comments@unilever.com

Update 10/4/8: After this article ran, it had a lot of traffic from visitors on Unilever servers — who says one person’s voice can’t be heard?

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Freddy is the Founder & Creative Strategist of Atomic Tango. He also teaches graduate-level marketing communication courses at the University of Southern California (go Trojans!), shoots pool somewhat adequately, and herds cats. Freddy received his BA from Harvard and his MBA from USC.

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