A highly insensitive and downright stupid Malaysian ad about a product that tones the body and makes the skin appear lighter is drawing online backlash for promoting domestic abuse.
The soap-opera styled video starts with the husband divorcing his wife and throwing her out of the house along with her luggage, as she keeps pleading for him to open the door and let her in.
In the four-minute video, the husband calls his wife a “rhino.” In one instance, he also spits food out of his mouth and splashes water on her face when she explains the food doesn’t have salt. After the divorce, the woman, named Sya in the advertisement, moves in with her sister, who suggests a solution to her problematic situation: “SlimmeWhite,” a product that has a double effect. Not only does it lighten the skin it also makes the consumer appear slimmer.
Sya does as directed and after her miraculous transformation, the ex-husband is shown running back to her, telling her how he misses her and wants her back.
“Cause now I'm slim and beautiful?” she asks in response, before bidding him farewell.
It is important to mention here that in the ad, two different women play the before and after transformation roles.
The bizarre ad has sparked fury over its insensitive message, according to which a woman has to have lighter skin tone to avoid being hit by her partner.
The Women’s Aid Organization, a nonprofit organization in Malaysia, disagreed with the ad’s content.
“WAO is appalled by the recent Slimme White ad, which suggests that what domestic violence survivors need is a beauty product that makes them thinner and whiter,” said Tan Heang Lee, the group's communications officer.
“Such ads are incredibly damaging because it implies that women who look a certain way deserve abuse, and that their husbands have a right to abuse them.”
“What this ad failed to recognize is that domestic violence is fundamentally about power and control. Domestic violence happens because men have more power in relationships, and then abuse their power to control their partners,” she added.
“'We need men to respect women, and to recognize that it's never okay to abuse another person,” explained the communications officer.
The problem of domestic abuse is widespread in Malaysia. A total of 57,519 cases of violence against women were reported from 2010 until March 2017, according to police statistics.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters, Soe Zeya Tun