Another day, another social media entrepreneur using their platform and access to hundreds of thousands of followers to shill the latest potion purporting to make your skin whiter.
Yep, that racket again.
Today, one social media user, who tweets as @shsalmah, is calling bullsh*t. Finally, we’re making progress.
Posting two clips to her Insta story, local beauty entrepreneur Sha Hasan, director of Shalicious Sdn Bhd, wrote that “God willing, [she] will be whiter by Raya” by drinking three liters of water per day and consuming some sort of mixed berry powder potion.
Extra points for linking Raya, a time of celebration following the self-reflective Ramadan fast, to making sure your whiteness is on point.
Sassy @shsalmah was having none of this nonsense, and asked the ghostly Sha “Just how white do you want to be, Satan.”
While no one has ever managed to make their skin any fairer by drinking water, nor by drinking a vitamin C infused berry powder, @shsalmah raises an important point: Gurl, you’re already the color of a boiled egg.
Malaysia’s beauty market is filled with hack-ads selling drinks and tinctures claiming to whiten skin. If they’re not telling you that fairer skin can solve domestic violence, they’re reinforcing tired tropes that somehow in this crazy world, more melanin is a bad thing. Obviously, it’s not.
Direct-to-consumer marketing via social media is a favorite mode for many local beauty brand owners whose astute business acumen we can’t deny (free platform, access to basically everyone), but whose moral compass points in the direction of the dollar.
Sha Hasan regularly updates her followers with before and after hand photos, showing milky, clear skin after taking her 30-day Mixberry + water challenge.
There’s really no way of telling that the hands belong to the same person, but you get the idea. For many, it’s all it takes after being fed a lifetime of messaging that white is right.
While the efficacy of these products remains to be seen, the policies that allow for products to enter the consumer market without being approved by Malaysia’s Ministry of Health means that there is an occasional product cull. See, only after some time on the shelf will authorities get around to actually investigating their efficacy-slash-health risks. Crazy, right?
Even crazier? Makers of the harmful products often avoid any legal action beyond simply having their products removed from stores.
Whitening creams have been pulled from shelves in the past for containing harmful levels mercury (which will make you the winning combination of bald and dumb), as well as other harmful chemicals.
None of these deterrents seem to quench the thirst for the unscrupulous products and their messaging, but here’s to hoping that 2018 is the year that we start calling bullsh*t.