The media plays a crucial role in setting out the idea of what is considered as “ideal female beauty” in South and East-Asian countries. Ponds Flawless White, a branch of world-renowned company Ponds, is a fairness cream which specifically targets the young female audience in countries in these regions. In these areas, female beauty is not considered by the features of the woman, which includes facial features, height, body structure, etc, but rather the paleness of her skin. These Asian women have been finely tuned to a certain idea of female beauty, believing that tanned skin represents the impoverished, whereas those with pale skin represent wealth, class and luxury. The campaign’s tagline, “7 days to Love,” a preferred reading, blatantly reveals to the audience that the only way they can achieve the ideal look is by using the advertised fairness product, ensuring a “radiant” complexion. If not, they will never find someone who will “love” them. The advertisement therefore discriminates women using stereotypical female traits, oppresses and conditions them into a constant state of paranoia.
In short, the advertisement, broadcasted on various forms of media around Asia, depicts a young couple splitting up where the girl is still evidently in love with the boy. After many years, she sees his picture in a magazine with his beautiful and “fair” fiancée. He later sees her on the road but does not approach her (possibly because she is not as “radiant” as his fiancée). She later texts him, and without him knowing, his fiancée replies with a rude message. This incident urges her to start using the fairness product, where after exactly seven days of usage, she becomes “fair” and “radiant” and her love interest begs to be with her again. The female protagonist in the ad is seen wearing pink throughout the ad, a stereotypical feminine colour as well as the colour of the cream itself, which gives a “pinkish glow” to its users. She constantly thinks about her love interest despite their break up and later texts him with good wishes after knowing that he is engaged, revealing a typical “caring” and “affectionate” female nature.
The socialization process in these Asian nations is such that, from the very beginning of their lives, females are taught to believe that they are inferior to their male counterparts. They live in accordance with the patriarchal system of society, conditioned to believe that they were born inferior, both physically and mentally, and will always remain that way. In the advertisement, the female protagonist only starts using the cream in order to please the eyes and gain the confidence she never had, reinforcing patriarchy. The male, however, is empowered, having two girls to choose from. There is no depth to her character- she is merely an object displayed for visual pleasure to men (Sellnow 99).
The ads have been reproduced according to country, using renowned actresses who act like models to the younger female population, (i.e. ex Miss World’s). The ad is targeted towards very young audiences, probably aged fourteen to their mid-twenties, who are yet to enter a relationship. Watching such ads at such a vulnerable age conditions and makes them more susceptible to using such products to ”enhance their beauty.” Their psychology is thus greatly affected once they feel as if they do not live up to the social expectations of the ideal woman.
Therefore, the social stigma, beliefs and oppression on Asian women with darker complexions by this advertisement handicaps them, creating a constant state of paranoia and frustration regarding their skin complexion.
Ponds Flawless White 7 Days to Love. Advertisement. N.p., n.d. Web.
Sellnow, Deanna D. “Feminist Perspectives.” The Rhetorical Power of Popular Culture: Considering Mediated Texts. Los Angeles: SAGE, 2010. 98-99. Print.