L’Oreal, Is it a (White) Wash? Frida Pinto Ad Raises Questions










Well the L’Oreal reverse Snookie machine as struck again. Frida Pinto’s new add for the ironically named “Colors” eyeshadow was just debuted and it looks like a white wash. Some are saying that the caramel colored starlet’s complexion was “brightened” such that she looks like a white woman.

Freida Pinto

In case you don’t recall, Pinto is the Indian beauty that starred in Slumdog Millioniare.

I have to say Pinto is not super brown to begin with, she is in the Halle Berry or Padma Lakshmi range of brown which is kinda like, if you throw enough light on them you can all but wash out their color, add to that the fact that it is standard to “brighten” photographs in photoshop. Don’t ask me why but almost every photoshopped before and after placed side by side the after is lighter. So I don’t know if it’s L’Oreal purposely lightening skin tones or a by-product of photo shopping that makes everything lighter. But catch  this, it is not the first time that the make up company has been accused of whitewashing, there was of course Beyonce Skingate, remember the Ferria ad?

Way to make a Coco girl look pale…



The bigger question is why? Why hire a brown girl to represent a product if you are going to all but erase her ethnicity? Women of color all over the world battle the color issue- there are African women using bleaching creams, Indian girls are told to stay out of the sun or else they will get too dark, and even Japanese women are often told not to “tan” for fear of getting too dark. Color bias is not something new (certainly not here in the States) Light is Right has long been a painfully true phrase used in the African American community to comment on light skinned privilege,  (our version of White skinned privilege). Black women have been plagued with the reality that being lighter skinned with “good hair” means that you are “more beautiful” and makes it easier to “advance” whether in getting a man, a job or even becoming and entertainer. Director Bill Duke has documented the experiences of the psychological effects of being dark skinned in the Film Dark Girls.  So when a major make up brand chooses to use a woman of color as a representative it is a big deal. It’s like FINALLY! It says “You see us, you see our beauty” which ultimately translates to “Yes we will start to buy your product”. Albeit when the print add comes out, and the billboard looms, and you have to do a double take to ask yourself “Why does so-and so look so light?” it makes you shake your head. You feel a bit hook winked, you thought they really wanted a woman of color to represent their product, when really their brand only wanted the name recognition, or wanted to create the appearance that they are trying to accommodate you. You really feel bamboozled when you go looking for the product and (if you are browner than coffee with a splash of skim milk) you are s**t out of luck. Wait, to be fair most cosmetic (white) companies have broadened their complexion ranges to include darker tones- but truth be told to get an authentic tone in a foundation or powder most darker skinned women still have to turn to their own for a flawless match (Iman cosmetics are brilliant- and truthfully MAC is great too!).

However it’s not just cosmetic companies that work the reverse Snookie, magazine covers are big on lightening cover girls







  1. Halle Berry – lightened for “Bazaar”.

This is Kelli’s album cover…

To add insult to injury- this is Uptown Magazine paled up actress Sanna Lathan

UPTOWN May 2011 Cover


So what does this say to women of color who are truly, unmistakably brown? Are we still not enough- or in this case too much? True there are white models and celebrities who are lightened for covers, and ads so should we feel like this is a conspiracy or is this just a reflection of a societal belief about beauty (lighter, blonder, thinner is better) being highlighted? All I know is that as a woman of color, it really doesn’t help matters, and I would like to say that it does not encourage me to buy the products… What do you think?

2 thoughts on “L’Oreal, Is it a (White) Wash? Frida Pinto Ad Raises Questions”

  1. this is disgusting. The magazines and adds have no excuse… And the women in them shouldn’t put up with this kind of crap

  2. I was going to comment on the most recent L’Oreal commercial on TV (early 2014) featuring Friedo Pinto, but could not find an article. During the 2014 commercial, a message banner appears while showing her face, “100% Indian”. I am a white male and found that offensive to all Indian women. Like they needed to accentuate the fact that she is beautiful and not only beautiful, but a beautiful Indian…like, “no way, a beautiful Indian woman? she can’t be 100% indian?” Why even make that statement, what does being 100% Indian have to do with anything?

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