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Vaseline skin-whitening Facebook app sparks debtae

A Vaseline face-whitening application for Facebook in India has sparked an online controversy and pushed the racially-loaded issue of skin colour out into the spotlight.

Anglo-Dutch skincare group Vaseline launched the application "Transform Your Face On Facebook" to promote its range of skin-lightening products for men, advertised by Bollywood star Shahid Kapoor Shahid Kapoor (Hindi: शाहिद कपूर) born February 25 1981 in Mumbai, India is a Bollywood actor and model.

Starting off his career by working in music videos and ads, Shahid made his Bollywood debut as a background dancer

It enables users to digitally whiten their profile pictures and remove dark spots -- an idea that has evoked a largely negative response in the blogosphere The total universe of blogs. See blog.  since news broke earlier this week.

"Vaseline's latest marketing campaign, largely targeted at south Asia but accessible globally, will probably make you uncomfortable," wrote columnist Alexis Madrigal madrigal, name for two different forms of Italian music, one related to the poetic madrigal in the 14th cent., the other the most common form of secular vocal music in the 16th cent.  on the website of US magazine The Atlantic.

"Modern humans' desire to make their skin darker or lighter is a rather icky reminder of the pigment-o-cracy that exists in many countries."

The market for skin-lightening cream in India is estimated to be worth about 500 million dollars a year by market research group Nielsen. Sales of products for men grew by 25 percent last year and by 17 percent for women.

The first cream for women was launched 27 years ago, while the Indian cosmetics group Emami was the first to see potential in the male market in 2005 when it launched "Fair and Handsome" with Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan.

"The adverts play with the minds of men," Radhakrishnan Nair, the editor of Indian men's magazine MW told AFP (1) (AppleTalk Filing Protocol) The file sharing protocol used in an AppleTalk network. In order for non-Apple networks to access data in an AppleShare server, their protocols must translate into the AFP language. See file sharing protocol. . "The message they send is: 'If you have fair skin, you will get a good job, a promotion and a beautiful and faithful wife'."

The matrimonial mat·ri·mo·ny  
n. pl. mat·ri·mo·nies
The act or state of being married; marriage.

[Middle English, from Old French matrimoine, from Latin m
 adverts that appear in Indian newspapers are also a vivid illustration of the cultural preference for paleness. A widely-understood lexicon has been developed to talk about skin tone.

Somebody described as having a "wheaten wheaten

a pale yellow or fawn coat color.

wheaten terrier
see soft-coated wheaten terrier.
" complexion is lighter in skin tone than somebody who is "dusky". It is commonplace to comment on someone who is beautiful and "very fair" in the same breath.

In shops for passport photos, the camera operator will frequently offer a "free lightening service" when the pictures are processed and printed.

"Indians believe that if you have fair skin you belong to the higher caste, the Brahmins," he added, explaining that a succession of light-skinned colonisers in India reinforced the association of fairness with power.

"The Aryans, who came from central Asia, in addition to the Portuguese, the French and the British colonisers ruled over the country and probably contributed to this negative perception of dark-skin."

The marketing campaigns for creams by Emami and other foreign brands such as Vaseline, Garnier or L'Oreal clearly reinforce the notion of whiteness and beauty.

Market-leader Emami has run into fierce criticism for its not-so-subtle advertising of "Fair & Lovely" for women and "Fair & Teen" for teenagers.

A campaign in 2003 featuring a dark-skinned woman who was unable to get married was branded "highly racist" by Brinda Karat, general secretary of the All India Democratic Women's Association The All India Democratic Women's Association (in Hindi: अखिल भरतिय जनवादी महिला समिति) is the women's wing of the Communist Party of .

The campaign was probably reflecting views held privately by many Indian women, however, particularly in the north of the country.

In 2009, a poll of nearly 12,000 people by online dating site, revealed that skin tone was considered the most important criteria when choosing a partner in three northern Indian states.

Creams range in price from about a dollar to 40 dollars and can be bought in most pharmacies in India. They work by targeting melanine, the skin pigment that absorbs darkening UV light, and are not thought to pose a health risk.

"Face bleach" and frightening sounding "acid peels" are also widely sold across the subcontinent.

Ashu Kumar, 24, is one of the latest customers. The student began using the cream a few weeks ago and hopes to see a result in the next month, as promised by the manufacturer.

"My skin is too dark," he told AFP. "If I don?t make it fairer, I?m worried I'll have trouble finding a woman to marry me."
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Publication:AFP South Asian Edition
Date:Jul 15, 2010
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