Johnson & Johnson Halt Production of Skin-Whitening Products Indefinitely
In writing a story on Black Arab women being inspired by Black Lives Matter to confront racist beauty standards, I learned Johnson & Johnson made an announcement saying they would be discontinuing their skin whitening products.
That was news to me. I wasn’t aware this iconic brand made skin-whitening products. There are products to lighten dark spots and marks on a woman’s face but actual skin-whitening is something completely different.
I knew these products existed as I have followed controversial stories behind them. But to have a huge conglomerate like Johnson & Johnson exploiting Black and dark women and to be complicit in the racist beauty standards our culture has taught us to adhere to is beyond disgusting.
In a statement, Johnson & Johnson said it stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and that their intention with their products was never to represent “fairness and whiteness as better than your own unique skin tone.” They went on to state, “healthy skin is beautiful skin.” But according to the Cut, ads for their products claim they “double your skin’s whitening power for even-toned lasting translucent fairness,” and “whiten more thoroughly.”
Procter and Gamble and L’Oreal also sell these products under the Garnier and Olay brands and have received much-deserved criticism for doing so. These products play to women’s deep insecurities about their skin tone as colorism is a huge problem all around the world, which includes Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Countries in those regions have been hotbeds for skin-whitening products as the women there suffer personally and professionally for having darker skin.
I have my own issues with cancel culture but what I’m looking for is brand compassion. I want brands to awaken to the fact that the world is changing and they need to change along with it. These products are unacceptable and with the reach and influence, these conglomerates have, we need them to be part of the solution, not the problem.
They are one of many brands receiving backlash for selling the products