There is controversy surrounding the new Dove Body Wash ad, which features three women of varying complexions, one black, one olive-skinned, and one white. The women are standing in that order in front of two large panels depicting before and after, with the “before” panel being rough, dry skin and the “after” panel being soft, hydrated skin, but some have took this ad to mean something different.
Since the black woman is in front of the before panel and the white woman is in front of the after panel (with the olive-skinned woman in between the two panels) this implies, for some people, that by using Dove Body Wash you you will lighten your skin and somehow become “whiter”. Gawker has received a statement from Dove’s PR department stating that “All three women are intended to demonstrate the “after” product benefit” and that Dove does not “condone any activity or imagery that intentionally insults any audience”.
In 2011there is still much racial tension in this country and it is easy to read racism into almost anything. Take for example TrekStor’s black MP3 player called the i.Beat blaxx. What’s racist about this? Say it out loud. It sounds like “I beat blacks”. (This never occurred to me until it was pointed out.) After much hoopla, TrekStor changed the name of the product to TrekStor blaxx, which is makes no sense because all the other products in the line are i.Beat, i.Beat organix, i.Beat xtension, i.Beat sonix, etc. Even Duncan Hines has been accused of being racist for its singing chocolate cupcake ad, which to some resemble a blackface minstrel show.
When we crawl, scratch, and scrounge to find racism in everything, it starts to become silly. Dairy Queen’s blended coffee beverage, the MooLatte is somehow linked to the word Mulatto, despite the fact that “moo” and “latte” are related to cows and milk. And as with the i.Beat blaxx, we can’t even mention the color black without it having racial connotations. Target’s Black Kid’s Computer Desk (a kid’s desk which is black) is now called Kool Kolors Computer Desk – Classic Black on its website.
I am all for dealing with racism in this country, but by reading racism into things where it was not intended, we take away from the real racial issues that this country face, like racist propaganda against our president or racism in the job market. I urge all Americans stop and think twice and pick their racial battles wisely, because like the boy who cried wolf, real racism will be less likely to be taken seriously.
Bleahy, i.Beat blaxx, The Terribly Named MP3 Player, The Feed
Hamilton Nolan, Dove Body Wash: Strong Enough to Turn a Black Woman White, Gawker
Hilary Moss, Dove VisibleCare’ Ad Called Out For Being Racist, Huffington Post
11 Accidentally Racist Product and Company Names, 11 Points