When I lived in Korea and discovered that Korean women (in general) were the exact opposite of Irish (in general) in terms of skin colour goals, I was initially happy. Instead of coating myself in fake tan in an attempt to reduce my Casper-esque appearance, I could finally be hip hoppity happy in my own pasty skin.
I was wrong.
True, a light complexion is desired by many Korean women - and women from other Asian countries - but not my kind of light; it has to be even and perfect and luminous - the alabaster doll look we all dream of when we're not dreaming of a perfect, even sun-kissed glow.
The beauty industry can be a kind of nasty one. If you're one colour, you should be the other; if you have lines and wrinkles, those hideous deformities need to be erased STAT; if you were born with a nose big enough to smell good with , well, shave that thing down. You know the drill.
Emma Watson is one of those luckies who 'naturally' rocks the English Rose thing, but she's been criticised for an ad she shot three years ago. Why? She's promoting Blanc Expert, a skin product by Lancôme. The key is in the name.
— Afua Hirsch (@afuahirsch) March 28, 2016
Lancôme don't say it's a skin lightener, per se. They told Refinery29 that the 20-year-old product, "helps brighten, even skin tone, and provides a healthy-looking complexion. This kind of product, proposed by every brand, is an essential part of Asian women's beauty routines."
They're right there. Lightning properties are in practically every Korean product, even BB creams. While it doesn't seem like such a bad thing, sure Irish women bronze themselves up no end, "whitening" products are controversial because of the sometimes harmful ingredients that feature, not to mention the dangerous message that "white is beautiful".
Emma, who is well known as a feminist and advocate for women's rights, clearly wants to distance herself from the controversy. and her spokesperson has issued a statement her involvement in the 2013 campaign, saying: "Many artists often have limited control of how their image is used once an endorsement contract is signed. I cannot comment on my client's previous contractual arrangements with Lancôme. However, my client no longer participates in advertising beauty products, which do not always reflect the diverse beauty of all women.”
One of the issues surrounding the controversy is that she is a caucasian actress promoting such a product in the Asian market, but it must be said that the want for lighter toned skin is not about looking 'Western', it's a deep-rooted desire that goes back centuries.
Do you think Emma is right to distance herself? Would you use a product like this? What do you think of our society's pushing of tanning products on us?