I was flipping through the Sept. 22 2014 issue of The New Yorker and found this horrendous ad on page 13. Really, New Yorker? Clearly, the racism of this copy isn’t self-explanatory enough for the ad placement staff at the magazine or the agency that put it together. Thus, I must take it upon myself to explain what should be obvious. For those who already understand, you can stop reading. This message is an open letter to The New Yorker, Procter & Gamble (the owners of the SK-II line), and the copywriter of the above train-wreck.
Before I begin a line-by-line analysis of the copy, perhaps some satirical parody will help tickle your comprehension skills:
“Have you always wanted a ‘fro? Now, Black women’s secret of cornrows and corkscrew curls are yours!”
“Ever wonder why all the White people have all the money? Learn their secret in 3 easy steps!”
If you really need further explanation of why the copy for SK-II is racist, I’ve done you the favor:
“The secret behind the youthful skin of Asian women”: This implies that all Asian women have youthful skin that non-Asians covet. Not only that, they’ve been keeping it a secret from everyone else! Obviously, they’re the racist ones who want all the youthful skin to themselves! (Sarcasm)
“Are Asian women born with good skin? No, but they have discovered the secret ingredient for youthful, ageless skin — PITERA”: Oh, nice save! (Sarcasm) You can’t be racist now, because you’ve said that Asian women are not born with good skin. But, wait, you’re still pointing out how ASIAN WOMEN have the secret. Now, you can be infantilized just like us! And also give into agism! Whoopee! The world makes sense! (Sarcasm)
“Discover more about their best kept secret at SK II.com”: Weird. I’M an Asian woman, yet I’ve never heard anything about this “secret” before. Maybe I’m not REALLY Asian!? Anyway, it’s a 30-year-old formula that was NOT harbored and protected by Asian women, but *gasp* discovered by a group of scientists (which can certainly contain Asian women, but that’s not the point). The point is that this ad feeds into the stereotype of Asian women looking younger than they are, which further feeds into their infantilization. These stereotypes conflate the myriad of Asian identities and often cause the VERY REAL aggressions (both micro and macro) many Asian women face (note that I say, “many Asian women,” BECAUSE of the way the stereotype conflates us).
Finally, I leave you with some scary findings about their products. Apparently, they’re toxic. That was back in 2006, so perhaps they’ve cleaned up their act and are ready to make a 2nd debut in the beauty market, but if you ask me, they’ve started off on the wrong foot. (Insert joke about bound feet here (Sarcasm)).
Moral of the story: Don’t buy their shit. They suck. And, New Yorker, I’m disappointed in you. Get a clue.