Last night I came across a video promoting Nivea’s lightening body lotion. Nothing strange here, right? Except, it was an ad promoting Nivea’s lightening body lotion. In case you’re somewhat clueless on what this means: it’s a body lotion that lightens your skin tone when used regularly. Skin lightening is in some countries just as natural as dying your hair blonde in California. But what do I think of it? These are my thoughts.
My thoughts on Nivea’s lightening body lotion
To be honest, I cannot understand why someone would ever do this to themselves. Lightening creams often have bleaching agents and harsch chemicals in them and who would want to put something like that on their skin, right? But then again, why do we shave or wax our legs? Why do we dye our hair? Why do we put on makeup on? The list goes on and on…
While part of me doesn’t understand why someone would want to change their skin colour, another part of me totally gets it. See, I am extremely light (I blame the redhead genes) and for a long time, I struggled with the opposite problem: wanting to be more tan. That was before it was “in” to take care of your skin and use SPF. While now I won’t leave the house without at least a factor 50 SPF and quite like my skin tone, I understand the pressures of society to be different.
I can consider myself lucky that I was brought up not to care about how other people look. But I too suffered from comments and pressure from those around me saying I looked “sick” or should “put some colour on”. It was as if me being so fair was a personal offence to a lot of people. Nowadays I think everyone is a bit more open-minded or more informed when it comes to health.
Everyone has an opinion regarding Nivea’s lightening body lotion
Another thing that maybe changes my perspective: I grew up with a lot of people from African countries in Portugal. People with skin colours a lot different than mine. I think that’s good because it made me understand different mindsets, different cultures. And also, it made me see how unique every single one of us is.
Unfortunately, it also made me aware of how discriminated some people are, sometimes even within their own cultures.
The comment section below the video I saw was full of comments saying how disgusting they thought it is for Nivea – such a renowned brand – to come out with a product like this. How Nivea is at fault for people wanting to change their skin tones. How Nivea is to blame for people having a low self-esteem, hating their skins and getting sick from these products. To sum it all up: how Nivea’s lightening body lotion is supposed to be the bad guy here and all of those commenting were never going to use their products again.
The problem isn’t Nivea, it’s society
Let’s be very honest: while I am completely against someone using lightening creams, Nivea didn’t invent them. Nivea just came out with what the market wanted. Sure, sometimes brands come out with brand-new-never-before-seen-products that may or may not end up being popular. But in this case, Nivea brought out lightening or whitening lotions, because there is a market for them.
At the end of the day, Nivea is a brand. A brand that wants to make money from their products, which is – news flash! – what every brand wants to make. Nivea is a brand that gives its customers what they want. There is a market for skin-bleaching products, Nivea delivered a product that does just that. But they shouldn’t be the ones to blame for the fact that people out there actually think their skins are ugly and want to change them!
Stop blaming the brand and start changing society’s perception of beauty
I believe every skin to be beautiful. Whether you’re fair like me or dark like Lupita Nyong’o, you are beautiful, your skin is beautiful. Instead of hating your dark skin, remember how valuable it is! How it protects you from the sun, how it covers your whole body and is your biggest organ. How it keeps you warm in the Winter and cools you down in the Summer. And most importantly: how, like every other thing about you, it makes you unique!
Nivea and its lightening body lotion aren’t the problems here, we are. I write we deliberately because you and I are also part of society. Because unless darker skin starts being accepted as the beauty that it is, brands will continue to produce lightening lotions. I don’t judge women who use these products because it is their decision, their body, their skin, their health.
Do I think these products shouldn’t be made? Absolutely! But I rather know they are being made by brands who try their best to make them as “healthy” as possible. It is not a solution, but it is better than burning your skin off with pure bleach just to look lighter!