Recently, Golden Pearl White Beauty Cream’s ad has become the talk of the town, and clearly not for the right reasons.

It’s 2024, and yet, here we are again, subjected to yet another beauty ad reeking of outdated and harmful beauty standards. Golden Pearl’s latest offering, featuring a woman flaunting “white skin” and urging men to compare their partners to her, is not just bizarre; it’s deeply offensive. The audacity of the concept and the sheer obliviousness to the damaging message it sends leaves us wondering: who greenlit this monstrosity, and what were they thinking? (The video is made private and is no longer available on YouTube as the very efficient media team got to work as soon as the backlash came in.)

Not only is it disrespectful, but it is also colorist to equate “white” with “better” and to promote it as the ultimate ideal for women. It promotes a toxic beauty standard by reinforcing the negative assumption that lighter skin tones are more desirable and deserving than darker skin tones.

Remember Fair & Lovely, the infamous cream that finally, in 2020, had to rebrand as “Glow & Lovely” after decades of facing criticism for its racist connotations? Although changing the name of the company was a step in the right direction, the improvement that the brand has made is superficial. Their most recent advertisements continue to feature negative comparisons, often showcasing two models, one with a darker skin tone being described as “dull” and the other model, who has a lighter skin tone, being presented as “glowing.” The same colorist notions that they profess to be working to break down continue to be reinforced through this subtle deception.

And Golden Pearl? I guess they missed the memo. The ad is getting swift backlash, with people calling out the ad for its regressiveness and harmful message. The scriptwriter, if they have any conscience, should be doing some serious soul-searching. As for the brand, let this serve as a wake-up call. Chasing an unrealistic and harmful ideal like “white and glowing” diminishes the inherent beauty everyone possesses.

Demanding real representation that accurately portrays human beauty and holding corporations responsible for promoting colorism are two things that we should actively start doing. It is time to shine a light on genuine beauty, not the pale ghost that Golden Pearl is trying to sell to its customers in the name of beauty.

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Hamna Farrukh is a high-on-life but low-on-energy writer who found her passion for writing after completing a degree in Economics, which is carefully kept in a folder somewhere in a drawer. Her interest in marketing and advertisement peaked while working for Ishtehari, and finally, Synergyzer gave her bickering thoughts a much-needed voice through the platform to talk about shitty ads (some good ones) being made in Pakistan.