Meghan Markle and Prince Harry face scrutiny after striking up a deal with Procter & Gamble, which sells skin-whitening cream that campaigners have deemed "racist."
The multi-year partnership, which was announced by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Archewell Foundation earlier this week, casts a light on the company's sale of skin lightening creams in Africa and Asia, according to Daily Mail.
Controversially, P&G's sale of skin-lightening creams, which is said to reduce melanin – the natural pigment that gives skin its color – is on sale in Africa and Asia, Daily Mail reported. Critics say that these products fueled a "toxic belief" that "a person's worth is measured by the color of their skin." They further claim the creams relay the message that light skin is better than dark.
In India, Malaysia, and Singapore, P&G sells Olay White Radiance Light Perfecting Essence, which is said to create a "radiant and brighter skin" while lightening the tone, while people in Nigeria can buy Olay Natural White cream, which creates "pinkish fairness."
Among those campaigning against these creams is Nina Davuluri, the first Indian-American to win Miss America. She said the products sell a "racist" ideology "that you need white skin to be beautiful, you need white skin to be successful."
Since 2014, she has been fighting against discrimination based on skin color. Her efforts began when she saw a headline in an Indian newspaper asking, "Is Miss America too dark to be Miss India."
Speaking with Daily Mail, Davuluri said she was shocked that P&G was still selling these products when other big brands have pulled or changed the names of similar creams from the market.
Former P&G executive, Alex Malouf, said that the deal "does stick out like a sore thumb," considering Meghan and Harry’s open conversations about race and racism, while San Jose State University Professor Joanne Rondilla, who has researched skin-lightening creams, said the couple had a "responsibility" to speak out about the sale of these products.
"Like everyone else around the world, I saw that interview with Oprah that Meghan did," she said. "It was important for her to bring up these issues of colorism. I don't think this partnership advances that conversation."
In their announcement of the deal, Meghan and Harry wrote via the Archewell Foundation's website that "the partnership will focus on gender equality, more inclusive online spaces, and resilience and impact through sport."
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