Yesha Callahan

Thai Beauty Brand Wants You to Know ‘You Just Need to Be White to Win’


Skin-bleaching is big business, but far too often conversations around bleaching are centered around Black communities throughout the diaspora. While skin lightening is a huge issue across Africa and the Caribbean, the biggest market for bleaching products is Asia.

Recently, a Thai beauty brand came under fire after it rolled out a commercial that argued having white skin is essential for achieving success in life.

“You just need to be white to win,” says popular actress Cris Horwang in the 50-second ad for Seoul Secret’s product Snowz.

The commercial shows two women side-by-side, one with pale skin, another whose skin darkens as Horwang talks up the benefits of Seoul Secret’s bleaching pill.

According to the commercial, Snowz will help buyers stay “eternally white,” but cautions that without it, “the whiteness [they] have invested in will just vanish” and they’ll be cast aside.

The ad caused a firestorm across social media, with many in Thailand blasting the company for its blatant racism.

“I’m perfectly fine being dark-skinned and now you’re saying I’ve lost? Hello? What?” wrote one person on the popular Thai website

Kaewmala, a writer and social media commenter, said the ad illustrates the “craze for whiteness.”

Following the backlash, the company removed the ad from YouTube an issued an apology on its Facebook page.

(We) would like to apologize for the mistake and claim full responsibility for this incident. Our company did not have any intention to convey discriminatory or racist messages.

What we intended to convey was that self-improvement in terms of personality, appearance, skills, and professionality is crucial.


This isn’t the first time a Thai ad has been accused of racism. Back in 2013, Dunkin’ Donuts was blasted for using blackface in print advertisement for its charcoal donut.

  1. January 8, 2016 - Reply

    This is a story that shows that self-hatred is an international phenomenon. The Thai brand was caught again using this racist propaganda. I’m glad that Clutch is showing information on this issue since we can’t sugarcoat self-hatred when many people of color (including black people) use skin beaching creams. We can’t be silent when that lie (of whiteness being the top beauty standard, which is false) is promoted by many companies. Liberation is not just about political or economic empowerment. It is also about a mental transformation that allows us to love our blackness in full. It is about seeing our skin and our souls as not just valuable, but glorious. It is about seeing the oneness as one black people irrespective if we are black Americans, Afro-French, Afro-Brazilians, Afro-British, Afro-Caribbeans, Afro-Mexicans, etc. So, we have to be aware of this subject and we need to let the world know that we will never financially support any company that promotes racist ads and anti-black hatred. Once again, that brand has issued a token, fake apology. Therefore, we will keep on moving forward and stand up for black beauty as human beings. Black is Beautiful.

  2. January 8, 2016 - Reply

    apology not accepted

  3. January 10, 2016 - Reply

    i never understood how white skin is the standard of beauty. With skin that burns in the sun, skin that ages years faster than black skin and will so much money being spend on ads that promote anti-ageing products towards white women, please tell me again how white is the standard of beauty in this society???

    • January 19, 2016 - Reply


      It’s been going on for hundreds of years in Asian culture, if not longer. For a change, it actually has little to nothing to do with white folks, and absolutely nothing to do with them in its origin. But there are shades to it, pun intended.

  4. January 13, 2016 - Reply

    Really unfortunate use of words but this company is not aimed at either African or European descendant women and it’s a different beauty standard

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