Skin Lightening and Beauty in Four Asian Cultures

Eric P.H. Li, York University, Canada
Hyun Jeong Min, University of Utah
Russell W. Belk, York University, Canada
Junko Kimura, Shalini Bahl, Hosei University, Japan, University of Utah
“Whiteness” or having white skin is considered an important element in constructing female beauty in Asian cultures. A dramatic growth of skin whitening and lightening products has occurred in Asian markets. Contemporary meanings of whiteness are influenced by Western ideologies as well as traditional Asian values and beliefs. In this study, we analyze print advertisements for skin whitening and lightening products in four Asian societies -- India, Hong Kong, Japan and Korea. We compare the verbal messages and visual images for both global brands and local brands and across countries. We find that whiteness in these Asian cultures is both empowering and disempowering as well as both global and local in character.
[ to cite ]:
Eric P.H. Li, Hyun Jeong Min, Russell W. Belk, and Junko Kimura, Shalini Bahl (2008) ,"Skin Lightening and Beauty in Four Asian Cultures", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 35, eds. Angela Y. Lee and Dilip Soman, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 444-449.