South Korean beauty brand calls out beauty standards with dark-skinned model

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SINGAPORE: Through an influencer-led campaign, the South Korean beauty brand Laneige is questioning pervasive ideas of beauty in Asia, by featuring blogger Trishna Goklani as a love interest of Indian descent.

This is according to a report from Mumbrella Australia, which featured the campaign created by two influencers, creative writing student Jemimah Wei and Trishna Goklani, who together wrote and produced a short romantic comedy film My BB Love (scroll down for the link).

The Facebook film places the Indian-descended Goklani’s character at the centre of the love story, in a rare example of a positive image of Indian and Malaysian women in Singaporean advertising.

Backed by Laneige Singapore – the regional branch of the Korean beauty company – the film was thought up by Wei a year ago, Mumbrella reported. Together, Wei and Goklani developed the idea and successfully pitched it to the brand.

“I’ve constantly been told through marketing and stock availability that I’m not within the ‘normal’ range of shades, which is something girls like me feel very strongly about”, said Goklani. “It means so much to girls like me who recognise through this representation and execution that our marketing dollar is worth something to the brand.”

Called out: “The problematics of skin-whitening products that advertise ‘the unattractiveness of darker colouring compared to fairer skin’.”

Wei explained to the website that racial representation is a touchy subject in the country, and added that the idea came about to address the issues “in a way that’s filled with humour.” So far, she said, the response had been “overwhelmingly positive”.

More broadly, the work points toward the cultural role of the beauty industry, Wei suggested. “[I]t has a huge impact on how girls see themselves and how society sees girls.”

Writing in Mumbrella last month, Meera Jane Navaratnam, co-leader of women’s network SheSays Singapore, said “As a Singaporean, I fail to understand why the advertising that permeates this country fails to address the changing needs and beliefs of the local audience.”

Navaratnam went on to call out the problematics of skin-whitening products that advertise “the unattractiveness of darker colouring compared to fairer skin”. Elsewhere, she illuminated further sexist and outdated ideas being propagated by advertising.

What’s more, men are no longer the gatekeepers of a household’s money. Salient examples of brands the have understood and portrayed the changing role of women across Asia include SK-II, and P&G’s Ariel.

  • Data sourced from Mumbrella, Laneige; additional content by WARC staff

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