cosmetics brand watsons malaysia uses colorism and blackface to teach a racist lesson on inner beauty

June 12, 2017

Black people do not only have to worry about white people promoting colorism, but also have to be on guard against other POC. The Asian community has a bad habit of portraying dark skin as charcoal-like and abandoned people who need a skin bleaching makeover. The anti-blackness is not just targeting skin tone, but also poking fun at African culture.

Despite the assumed isolation Asian media outlets think they have to stealthily promote colorist and racist propaganda, in reality, and most cases the internet is vast and people always find out.

A cosmetics company called Watsons Malaysia released, but now pulled commercial depicting a faux dark-skinned woman as unworthy of love.

The ad narrates as a mini-drama and folklore of a powerful man wanting to marry the woman with the most beautiful voice in the region, but the challenge ends of spreading all over the world.

By Asher Primus*, AFROPUNK contributor

Despite the inclusive challenge, women of Indian and Asia descendant are either depicted, seen or have an interest in the man and challenge. The contest goes bad as none of the women love up to expectation until a mysterious woman sings unannounced from a distance. He is charmed by her voice, but her face is covered and he encourages her to take it off.

Dramatic music plays before the covered woman reveals her dark-skinned face. The crowded is in shock and they are puzzled as they try to figure out on how a beautiful voice could be attached to her blackness. The man asked, “Where are the lights,” in hopes that this is all a joke or misunderstanding because he did not to believe that she was so dark. The winner is prepared to be announced, but a contestant named Mayang Mengurai is mistaken as the champion. She is a weird character we are to assume is an Indian or Malaysian woman with a tacky long blonde wig and a Valley Girl accent for good measure. Her vocals were not any good according to the story.

The real winner is then announced. It is Harum Senandung, the covered and dark-skinned woman from before, who had the man falling in love with her voice, but not her skin. But a twist reveals that she is not dark-skinned. She is a fair-skinned woman who tested the man’s sincerity by making herself ‘undesirable.’ Somehow, he passed her test and gained her approval and they get married. The celebration leads to a song about beauty and happiness. Once the video was pulled Watsons Malaysia responded via Facebook with an explanation,

“Watsons Malaysia is aware of the post that has been made viral on social media.

A post on 7th June 2017 regarding a video by Watsons talks about the legend of Dayang Senandong. The Legend of Dayang Senandong is a Malay folklore about a lady who was born cursed with black skin but blessed with a beautiful voice. The legend depicts that the king fell in love with Dayang Senandong because of her voice and inner beauty. The curse was lifted after Dayang Senandong gave birth to the king’s child.

We stand firm on the belief that unity and fairness plays an important role, and we respect people from all nationalities. The video was shot to highlight the Legend and its moral values of inner beauty and that true love exists. We are sorry that some of our fans feel offended by the video which was not our intention. We take feedback from our fans seriously. Your continued support will be greatly appreciated and any feedbacks from you will help in improving our services. Maaf Zahir dan Batin.
Thank you.”

Scrolling through the comment section, some Malaysians refuse to see fault or that it was blackface. The ad was not funny or a life lesson and black people are getting tired of explaining micro-aggressions to be foreigners and beauty companies.

*My name is Asher Primus. I am a graduate of Augusta University with a degree in Communication and minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. My hobbies are video gaming, writing, landscaping and mentoring.