Racist Chinese Detergent Ad Calls Attention To Long-Held Beliefs About Skin Tone

It’s for Qiaobi detergent

A Chinese ad for detergent has sparked outrage in the West for its blatant racism. Last month, Quiaobi detergent ran an ad that appeared before movies and on television that shows a woman placing laundry detergent into a black man’s mouth and forcing him into a clothes washer. After the man is thoroughly cleansed, he reappears as dreamy-looking Chinese man ready for romance. The ad reveals a deep-seeded belief in some Asian cultures that darker skin is dirty.

White skin is highly valued in many Asian cultures. Popular skin products have whitening in them and women wear large visors to protect their faces from becoming tanned. This prejudice stems from deep-seeded ideas about class. Traditionally, poor people worked the fields and had darker skin tones whereas the affluent, who stayed indoors, had lighter complexions.

According to The Shanghaiist, a popular Chinese culture blog, the ad wasn’t controversial in China because it reflects the views of many of its people. “Thanks to traditional beauty standards valuing white skin, many Chinese people have a well-established phobia of dark skin,” The blog wrote. “[This view] unfortunately also breeds racist attitudes towards people of African descent, who are viewed by some as ‘dirty’ simply because of their skin tone.”