Earlier this year, 2005's 'Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria' Omowunmi Akinnifesi starred as the face of a Nivea ad campaign which promised people "visibly fairer skin".
Following the expected backlash, the campaign video has already been deleted off YouTube, and in a few days we expect to see an apology stating that 'they made mistake and didn't mean to hurt anyone's feelings' – why does this song sound so familiar?
Promotional billboards for the beauty brand's 'natural fairness' moisturiser sprung up in May across Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon and Senegal. Billboard adverts show the beauty queen with the words "for visibly fairer skin" written across her body, while the TV commercial has the model's skin becoming lighter as she happily applies the cream saying "I need a product that can restore my skin's natural fairness".
The problematic product's description reads:
"Natural Fairness greatly improves skin tone and evenness, even on dark underarms and other harder-to-get regions of your body to give you beautifully radiant and glowing skin.
Natural Fairness works by reducing the over active melanin in your skin, allowing for reduced dark patches and fairness."
What's worse than this product and the accompanying ad is that at this point, it is really not shocking that a beauty brand is purporting the notion that white is right. This is what it has come to.
Even though the ad campaign is old, the internet does not forget. It was brought back to everyone's attention recently and no one is having it. The world is still on high alert about racism and colorism perpetuated by beauty brands, in light of Dove's recent mishap and Munroe Bergdorf's unfair treatment by L'Oreal.
This is what Munroe had to say about this ordeal on her Instagram:
"This is not okay. #Nivea - Perpetuating the notion that fairer skin is more beautiful, more youthful is so damaging and plays into the racist narrative, that whiteness or light skin is the standard that we should all strive for.
Advertisers have the power to change this narrative, but campaign after campaign we see it being used worldwide. Making money out of making people hate themselves is never acceptable. Whitening and lightening creams are not only physically damaging, but also ethically wrong.
Empowerment is not too much to ask for. ALL black skin is beautiful, no exceptions, so celebrate us as we are instead of asking us to adhere to unattainable and racist ideals."
And she couldn't have said it better. It was also irresponsible of Omowunmi Akinnifesi to participate in this, as she is one of the benchmarks for beauty in Nigeria.
People make light of Bobrisky's colorist jokes, but he is a direct consequence of this narrative and the damage (physically and in his reasoning) is there in plain sight. Nivea almost got away with this one, and we hope that this shakes the table more and we see less and less of these toxic and hazardous messages from beauty brands.
This is why black businesses need to rise up and cater for our needs. Nivea can’t get away with pushing this skin lightening agenda across Africa. Appalling. pic.twitter.com/8uR7XHNgVa— William Adoasi (@WilliamAdoasi) October 18, 2017