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Friday, March 20, 2009

skin color in the UAE…

as-salaam aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I have just read something very upsetting on a forum I am a member on. a member of the board was in class yesterday and another student who is Sudanese had a typed note on her desk that read:

“You are ugly and tall and too black and you smell.”

Astagferallah!! how cruel! this makes me so angry. so very verrrry angry.

I just want to talk a little about skin color issues I have heard/known about in the UAE.

for the local culture here, from the past up until now, it is considered beautiful to have fair skin. the more fair the better. though I do have to say from knowing local women I think nowadays there are many women who accept their color, but certainly not most of them. it is still an issue here.

there is a product here named “fair and lovely”—it is a skin lightening cream that sells very well here and their commercials have angered me.

I could only find one in English, but take a look at this one (it was originally in Arabic):if you can't view it it is here:

Fair and Lovely Ad

here is another one dubbed in Arabic for the Middle East market:

if you search on Youtube almost all of the ads are from India and the surrounding countries, where darker skin is shunned.

anyhow, this commercial, if you watch it, clearly sends out a signal to the Arab girls that they will find success, love, and happiness only if they have fair skin.

there have been several commercials with the exact same message. it is disgusting that the commercials are allowed to air here. its even more disgusting for a Muslim country to allow ads like this telling their women they are less pretty if their skin is darker. these kinds of messages in society reinforces racism towards those with darker skin.

and since many of the local Arab girls have a tanned skin color and the message is that this color is unattractive, imagine how the girls with even darker skin are made to feel, because there are many locals with dark skin--even if they would generally get more respect than a dark-skinned non-local just because they are Emirati.

it is just so sad.

inshallah the school finds who gave that girl the nasty note and they are punished for it.

p.s. OMG look at this ad for fair and lovely I found!! from India...

if you can't view it here, it is at:

fair and lovely for body?


  1. omg so the "moral" of the story is be fair and your life will be perfect? yeaaaaa seems that hasn't worked out for me lol

  2. You know what really pisses me off the most about this dearest Twizzle?

    The fact that this is being forced on the Muslim world of UAE. By none other than the Brahmin end all-be all upper class of India. Indeed, this is what it's all about. Making The Untouchables of India and that usually darker sect feel worse. I am disgusted that India's cultural battle filled with rickshaws and spitting in the face of an untouchable has seeped into the UAE.

    Being Caucasian like I am makes life easier. But, I often feel like this wasn't supposed to be my destiny. It is hard to make people who are minorities believe you truly care. That your not a fascist Hitler.

    All this is going to do is create a population of darker Emirati girls who can't get married. Those girls will overwhelm their burdened parents and continue to need their aid. Less babies will be born, less labor will be done, less movement towards the top country in the world will ensue.

    It's very sad. I love you Twizzle for your patience in wrestling with this everyday!

  3. whaaat? I've always seen this product at the corner Indian stores but never have seen an ad for it before. That's ridiculous. I hope people are not dumb enough to watch these commercials and start hating their skin color. All shades are so beautiful mashaAllah. Never in my life have I wanted light skin, and I'm the oddball in my family, everyone is fair, my parents, my brother.. weird.. LOL!

  4. Well, welcome to my world: as a dark skin African, i pretty have to live with this whenever i attend muslim/arab function of some sort, sad but true.
    Oh well, hopefully things will get better as the topic is coming up more and more on muslim blogs.

  5. Hey there!!!
    I came across your blog and saw this post. I was just talking to a friend of mine about the exact same thing in the African American community.

    She has very beautiful dark skin & I am very fair. She grew up with family basically degrading her because her hair was more ethnic and her skin was darker.
    I grew up with people telling me how pretty I was with my green eyes and long hair. As I got older teenage years and womanhood I noticed how Black women always assumed I was stuck up or I thought I was better than them, with rolling eyes and a lot of "pfft whatever!" looks. Once they talked to me or got to know me then their initial thoughts of me changed. (I a total hippy & very down to earth)

    I was telling my friend how I bought the fair and lovely cream to lighten up dark marks I had on my face but, how I vowed never to buy it again because I saw one of the commercials you posted above & I think that the perpetuation of these 'field negro, house negro' stereotypes is appaling and unacceptable.
    In the Black community this issue stems allll the way back to slavery in the US with the lighter skinned Africans being able to work in the house doing 'easy' labor,cooking, rasing kids,cleaning. While the darker skinned Africans were reduced to very hard field labor. Thus the term house negro field negro.

    In these days the shade of someones skin should be the least of ones worries.
    Sorry so long but, I'm a chatterbox :D

  6. as-salaam aleikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

    thanks for the comments gals--it is disgusting that they air commercials like these and there is no uproar in the communities to have them taken down. These commercials would never fly in the US, even though I know there are women who do try to lighten themselves.

    I remember an episode on America's Next Top Model when a black model was going to be portrayed as Grace Jones so her skin was going to be made darker for the shoot. you could just tell she was hating the fact that she was going to have to have darker skin for the shoot.

    I also remember an episode on the Tyra Banks show where a mother had her children put her skin bleaching cream on themselves everyday. so sad...

    Tiffany Nicole, thank you for boycotting the Fair and Lovely cream. I hope more people will.

  7. hahaha what the heck, and here i am dying bc i cant tan without burning!! no one is every happy with what they are

  8. They also use some drug called Benovate that you can get OTC from Saudi. They sell it in the Somali stores in MN. Anyway, its a drug that is for burn victims and is very damaging to the skin. Yet somehow the girls feel like they have to use it.

  9. I'm ok I guess. I'm a nice tanned color. I really wouldn't mind using this to get lighter though. I don't think this is any worse than how companies in the west shove down white women's throats that they NEED to be tanned.

    I personally like fairer skin. I want fairer skin. Not by much though. Maybe only a shade or two. But if I stay where I'm at now, I don't mind. :)

  10. Ohh my god I wonder if it ACTUALLY works..does it??

  11. “You are ugly and tall and too black and you smell.”

    imagine someone saying that to martin luther king jr.