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Beauty whitewash is a phenomenon in the intersection of fashion industry, digital photography, mass media, marketing and advertising. It describes a situation when the skin tone of black or Latina women (less often of men) – when depicted in magazine covers, advertisements, commercials, music videos, etc. – is digitally retouched to appear whiter.
Probably the most cited and notorious[according to whom?] example of beauty whitewashing is a L'Oreal advertising campaign featuring Beyoncé Knowles; other examples include celebrities Halle Berry, Brandy, Mariah Carey, Rihanna, Freida Pinto, Jennifer Lopez, Tyra Banks, Leona Lewis, Jennifer Hudson, Gabourey Sidibe and Queen Latifah, among others.
Reasons for doing so are believed to be marketing, more specifically, appealing to the white ethnicity which is generally, in most cases, the strongest target group for whichever advertisement that is and which creates certain "beauty ideal" or "standard". In concert with being on the same wibe[clarification needed] with the target audience, the extent of beauty whitewash may vary; for example the same picture on a magazine cover would have a different extent of brightening the skin tone, depending on the country where the magazine is sold. Beauty whitewash seems to be[according to whom?] a part of conforming to those ideals (or distorted images thereof) – accompanying signs of which could be straightening of (otherwise naturally curvy) hair or excessive strive to become slender, even for naturally thicker body constitution, not scarsely resulting to eating disorders.
Beauty whitewash is therefore criticized[by whom?] for distorting the perception of reality, exuding a twisted sense of beauty and, not lastly, having a bad influence on young girls.
- The Anti-Imperialist The Whitewash of Black Beauty, June 11, 2011
- Beauty Whitewashed: How White Ideals Exclude Women Of Color, Lindsay Kite, February 28, 2011