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The idea that having lighter skin can lead to a better life is not just one that affects African and Latino Americans. Skincare group Vaseline has introduced a skin-lightening application for Facebook in India, enabling users to make their faces whiter in their profile pictures.

The download is designed to promote Vaseline’s range of skin-lightening creams for men, a huge and fast-growing market driven by fashion and a cultural preference for fairer skin. In India there is a cast system in play. Just as some would say there is in America. If you have lighter skin in India then you are treated better and those with darker skin are considered second class citizens.

The widget promises to “Transform Your Face On Facebook With Vaseline Men” in a campaign promoted by Bollywood actor Shahid Kapur, who is shown with his face divided into dark and fair halves.

Indian cosmetics Emami launched the first skin-whitening cream for men in 2005 which was called “Fair and Handsome” and advertised by Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan. It came 27 years after the first cream for women.

Since then a half dozen foreign brands have piled into the male market, including Garnier, L’Oreal and Nivea, which also promote the seemingly magical lightening qualities of their products.

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Self hate is a ideology that is so deeply embedded in various cultures that it makes it easy for companies to play against the emotions and insecurities of people. Is it sociably acceptable for Vaseline Intensive Care to consciously promote a product that promotes self loathing? Or are they simply providing the people with what they desire and play no real role in the dynamics of society?

I tend to go the moral route and say that a company should not play on the insecurities of a particular group of people. I could say that it is morally lacking for a company to use these insecurities that their consumers have for profit.  But then again, one could argue that every company on some level, plays on the emotions, insecurities, fears, and desires of people in some form. Their aim is to find the void that consumers feel they have and zero in on it. Capitalize on that void as much as they possibly can. In defense of these companies, they may feel like they are giving the people what they want. However, are they also promoting these same insecurities and racists ideologies by distributing products like this? Who is to blame? Society, who forces their own racist agenda on the businesses? Or the businesses who help to promote them? A bigger question is , do these products even work?

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Source: Vancouver Sun

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