Updated: Controversial ad encourages women to use whitening cream to gain ‘fair advantage’

The controversial GlutaMAX ad that angered many netizens. Photo: GlutaMax’s FB page
The controversial GlutaMAX ad that angered many netizens. Photo: GlutaMax’s FB page

(UPDATED), 2nd UPDATE. An ad from a whitening cream brand has drawn widespread condemnation online for insinuating that Filipinos should whiten their skin to receive better treatment in society.

The controversial ad for GlutaMAX appeared on its official Facebook page on Saturday and — unsurprisingly — immediately received backlash.

Written mostly in a mix of Filipino and English, the ad said: “Just because she’s fair-skinned, she was given a seat on the bus? Isn’t that unfair?”

It also quoted a study which said that three out of five Filipinos believe people with fairer skin are treated better in society. It added: “Don’t be mad. Use GlutaMAX! Your fair advantage.”

The original post that went viral no longer appears on the brand’s Facebook account but on Saturday night, it reached more than 2,400 shares on the social media platform. Majority of the comments were angered by it.

The original GlutaMAX ad that appeared over the weekend. Photo: Screenshot from GlutaMAX FB.
The original GlutaMAX ad that appeared over the weekend. Photo: Screenshot from GlutaMAX FB.

Meanwhile, the Ad Standards Council (ASC) said this evening in a statement uploaded on their Facebook page that they didn’t approve the GlutaMAX ad. The ASC also said that the ad was a violation of their procedures and the issue will be dealt with according to their rules and regulations.

The ASC is a self-regulating body governing the local ad industry that aims to protect consumers from misleading advertisements.

The Ad Standards Council's statement. Photo: ASC's FB page.
The Ad Standards Council’s statement. Photo: ASC’s FB page.

Filipinos, like most Asians, generally believe that fair-skinned people are more beautiful. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the local entertainment industry where an overwhelming number of actors hired on television and movies are light-skinned. This is also why numerous clinics which offer glutathione drip procedures have sprouted all over the country.

But many think that using colorism to not just justify but promote skin whitening crosses the line.

This includes celebrities such as Bianca Gonzalez, a TV presenter known for being proud of her tanned complexion.

She wrote on Twitter: “There is no problem AT ALL if you want to whiten your skin. The problem is when whitening brands make it appear that you should feel pity for us just because we are dark. We are not people you should feel pity for, because our skin color is beautiful.”

Another brown-skinned celebrity, actress Chai Fonacier, didn’t mince words when she slammed the ad. Using the hashtag #KutisPinas (“Filipino skin”) she called the brand an “uneducated potato.”

Before the original ad was taken down, netizen Nicole Veloso wrote on GlutaMAX’s Facebook account that indeed, fair-skinned women get better treatment but she won’t change her color because other people’s colorism is their problem, not hers.

Photo: Screenshot from GlutaMAX FB.
Photo: Screenshot from GlutaMAX FB.

Another netizen, Thamania Gumilao commented: “So disappointing that instead of promoting equality regardless of skin color, they chose to point out that it’s better to whiten one’s skin and [get] better treatment. Instead of getting mad, find a way to be fair-skinned as well? So that you can get treated well, too? What a trashy logic we got here from GlutaMAX.”

Photo: Screenshot from GlutaMAX FB.
Photo: Screenshot from GlutaMAX FB.

An Monajan said that the brand should have preached equality instead.

Photo: Screenshot from GlutaMAX FB.
Photo: Screenshot from GlutaMAX FB.

According to Martha Villarama, the belief that white skin is superior has decreased dramatically, but GlutaMAX’s ad brings society back to the dark ages. “Remove this. You’re not helping the movement,” she wrote.

Photo: Screenshot from GlutaMAX FB.
Photo: Screenshot from GlutaMAX FB.

No doubt feeling the intense online criticism, GlutaMAX posted a public apology on its Facebook account earlier this afternoon. They wrote that “the best intentions are never an excuse for causing harm.”

The official apology from GlutaMAX. Photo: their Facebook account
The official apology from GlutaMAX. Photo: their Facebook account

Recently, an ad from another whitening brand attracted a significant amount of online controversy. Earlier this month SkinWhite was widely lambasted for using a model sporting brownface on its Facebook ad. The ad has not been taken down from their account.

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