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Nivea’s Skin-Lightening Ad Reveals Media’s Bias Against Dark Tones

It's so insulting.

After Nivea's "White is Purity" tagline debacle back in April, you'd think the skincare brand would be more careful with its ads. But, the company sparked major criticism yet again after it launched a skin-lightening cream in Africa.

Nivea's Natural Fairness Body Lotion promises "visibly fairer skin" and is now being advertised in Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon and Senegal, The Sun reports.

The ad features former Miss Nigeria Omowunmi Akinnifesi, whose skin becomes visibly lighter after using the lotion. "Now, I have visibly fairer skin, making me feel younger," she says in the commercial.

This is problematic as the ad's messaging equates light skin with youth and beauty, with the subtle implication being that dark skin isn't desirable. Naturally, social media was quick to call out this out and criticized the skincare brand for being blatantly racist.

One Twitter user also pointed out that the German company has always been problematic since it previously told black men to "re-civilize" themselves in a 2011 ad.

While Nivea's skin-lightening ad first appeared on TV and billboards back in June, it only recently caught the public's attention after competitor brand Dove shared its own tone-deaf ad, Quartz noted.

Dove's controversial poster showed a black woman taking off a brown shirt to reveal a white woman in a white shirt. The ad's messaging, which associates white with cleanliness, resembled that of Nivea's.

On Wednesday, Nivea issued a statement on Facebook. "We would like to emphasis (sic) that this campaign is in no way meant to demean or glorify any person's needs or preferences in skin care," it read.

Despite the backlash, some Twitter users noted that Nivea was simply catering to a market of black women who do use skin-lightening cosmetics. However, it's important to note that racist media messaging — in which light skin is promoted as the most desirable — from companies such as Nivea and Dove are likely what created that market in the first place.

Public figures such as Sudanese model Nyakim Gatwech are trying to combat the false idea that dark skin is something to be ashamed of.

"Beauty is in the beholder," she wrote on Instagram. "My chocolate is elegant. So is what I represent. I represent a nation of warriors. You can see it in my presentation. MaMa Africa. My roots run deep!"

Rihanna is another famous figure who believes all skin types are beautiful, as evidenced by her diverse and inclusive cosmetics brand Fenty Beauty, which includes 40 shades of foundation.

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