Blac Chyna and Whitenicious by Dencia are launching a $250 Whitenicious X Blac Chyna Diamond Illuminating & Lightening Cream.
The face cream comes in a gold jar with a lid that is covered in real Swarovski crystals, which explains the price.
The cream claims to provide a variety of skin benefits like adding hydration and improving its texture.
That is all well and good, but it is the skin lightening component that is at the center of the controversy.
Having a Black woman promote a skin lightening cream to other people of color can perpetuate the dangerous message that dark skin is inferior.
It’s irresponsible for Blac Chyna to be the face of a product that could potentially perpetuate colorism.
Cameroonian pop singer Dencia, the founder of Whitenicious, has come under fire over her branding in the past.
Dencia was grilled over her Dark Spot Remover by UK-based Channel 4 News in 2014, specifically over a campaign image that showed her with a significantly lighter complexion, but she insisted that she didn’t believe that lighter skin is better. When asked why she named the product Whitenicious, Dencia’s logic was that "white means pure." She continued to deny any interpretations that her product celebrates light skin. "A lot of people don’t feel confident, they don’t feel pure, they don’t feel clean with dark spots." She even used the fact that the size of the jar of cream wasn’t big enough to treat an entire body to defend herself.
Dencia was confronted with photos showing the stark difference in her overall skin tone.
She refused to take responsibility or acknowledge how much lighter her skin looked in Whitenicious advertisements. She continued to say that she was only selling a spot treatment, and blamed the media for using side-by-side photos of her with different skin tones to push their own narrative.
She gave 'Ebony' magazine a more specific reason why there was such a noticeable difference in skin tone in her ads.
Dencia told Ebony that she used to go tanning, so the pictures of her with darker skin don’t show her natural skin tone. She admitted to looking pale in her Dark Spot Remover marketing materials, but she blamed it on being sick at the time of the shoot. She did admit to bleaching her skin in the interview, but said it had nothing to do with a lack of self-love.
When she was confronted with the possibility that people were buying the cream because they wanted to look like her, she denied it. Dencia clarified that the product was marketed to treat dark spots. "If a Black person thinks their whole body is hyperpigmentation then so be it," she said. “I don’t know what to say.”
According to 'TMZ', Blac Chyna’s team shared that she has used the infamous Whitenicious Dark Spot Remover to treat hyperpigmentation in the past.
Her reps told TMZ that partnering with Whitenicious made sense to her because women of color deal with similar challenges. While there is nothing wrong with treating dark spots/hyperpigmentation, Blac Chyna still risks sending a problematic message by aligning herself with the Whitenicious brand.
Whitenicious attempted to preempt the criticism the Blac Chyna collaboration would receive.
The Whitenicious X Blac Chyna Diamond Illuminating & Lightening Cream's description says that it "brightens, lightens without bleaching skin out." That interesting choice of words sounds just like the spin Dencia has perfected over the years.
Colorism has roots in slavery and colonialism that we are still trying to eradicate today.
Encouraging skin bleaching (even in an indirect way) hurts that progress. Social media has done wonders for reversing the damage history has made, especially when it comes to representation. The space isn’t being filtered by marketing executives, which largely focused on promoting Eurocentric standards of beauty, but we still have a long way to go. Why Blac Chyna would ever choose to endorse products that could be viewed as part of the problem is beyond us.