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Skin Whitening Ad In Thailand Draws Social Media Backlash For Promoting 'Discriminatory Or Racist Messages'

by Diana Tomale / Jan 11, 2016 10:50 AM EST
A screenshot of the controversial Thai cosmetics ad that sparked social media outrage for its "racist" message. (YouTube)

A commercial of a skin whitening product in Thailand is drawing outrage from the social media for its message that one "[needs] to be white to win."

The Washington Post reported Friday that the advertisement featured Thai singer-actress Cris Horwang talking about the benefits of having white skin and how it has contributed to what she has right now.

A rough translation of Horwang's spiel was published by The Guardian on Friday. Horwang said, "Before I got to this point, the competition was very high. If I stop taking care of myself, everything I have worked for, the whiteness I have invested in, may be lost."

Horwang's skin turned darker after saying, "The new kids will replace me, will make me a faded star," referring to a fair-skinned woman beside her.

"White makes you win," the narrator said, noting the special compounds of the product, called "Snowz," that "helps you not return to black."

A netizen wrote on a popular online forum that skin color should not be used to compare two individuals.

"You shouldn't use skin color as a comparison to make another people look bad," Thammaijung said. "It's like saying if you happened to be born black, you always lose. The way you patronize people with black skin as losers is clearly racist."

A Bangkok-based employee thought the advertisement conveys racial discrimination.

"This ad is so obviously racist and another attempt to brainwash Thai women," Jutamas told AP Friday. "They're saying that being dark is ugly. It's a narrow-minded and disgusting attitude."

Meanwhile, the Thai cosmetics company issued an apology through their official Facebook account Friday.

"Our company did not have any intention to convey discriminatory or racist messages," Seoul Secret wrote on Facebook. "What we intended to convey was the self-improvement in terms of personality, appearance, skills and professionalism is crucial."

The company also said it has pulled the commercial video, as well as other related promotional advertisements.

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