Saturday, July 07, 2007

L'Oreal - the ugly face of the French beauty conglomerate


The French beauty product company L'Oreal was fined a day or two ago in a French court for racist hiring practices at one of its subsidiaries (Garnier France). The background is that the company, when hiring faces for an advertising campaign targetting the French market, made clear to their head hunting outfit that it expected no less than only white faces to represent 'beauty' in its campaign. The court issued a fine of between 30,000 and 300,000 Euros (my sources couldn't find as consensus on the last digit), and, more significantly perhaps, a 3 months suspended jail sentence for a staff member of the head hunting agency.

It goes without saying that L'Oreal categorically reject the racism charge. It rejected it so much so that it has reportedly (in a different development) decided to continue selling skin bleaching agents to dark(er) skinned Philippina and Philippino. The company promises that its product 'White Perfect' will produce a 'glow within'. I can imagine that people reading this will glow with anger about such health hazards (and so add a slightly reddish blemish to their skin colour variations).

QED, L'Oreal definitely is not a racist organisation. Quite to the contrary, by aiming to make us all look pink with its 'White Perfect' product it shows that really it is a great equalising force. I am just being sarcastic, of course.

There is something terribly sad about Indian and Mexican soap operas' lead characters being usually white or nearly white, while the roles of cleamers, criminals and so on and so forth remain reserved for the darker actors. The same is true of 'White Perfect'.

I guess the only sensible answer to such an issue is to outlaw the sale of 'White Perfect' and similar products and to prescribe ethnicity specific representativeness in things like soap operas. End of story. We have been waiting for voluntarily sensible behaviours, and they just didn't happen. The French court was right to punish those involved. The country must have learned something from the race riots it recently endured.

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