Johnson & Johnson has announced it will stop selling skin whitening creams in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody and wider cultural shifts around race.
Johnson & Johnson sell a range of skin whitening creams to international customers, mostly in Asia and the Middle East. Neutrogena Fine Fairness and Clear Fairness by Clean & Clear are popular products in the regions, but are not sold in the United States. Similar creams are sold domestically by companies such as Unilever, Procter & Gamble and L’Oreal.
“Conversations over the past few weeks highlighted that some product names or claims on our dark spot reducer products represent fairness or white as better than your own unique skin tone,” Johnson & Johnson said in a statement. “This was never our intention – healthy skin is beautiful skin.”
“We will no longer produce or ship the product line,” the company continued, confirming that the links to the products would be removed from their online stores, although a number of them may still remain on shop shelves “for a short while.”
Johnson & Johnson have faced backlash from Asian customers over their decision to withdraw their line of products. One user based in Hong Kong said that the decision amounts to “pure racism and sexism towards Asian women. Our rights as [an] ethnic minority are being infringed [upon].”
“A disgrace. If people want to buy them, they have a right to do it,” said another user on Twitter, with another person adding that it’s “her body her choice” for women who want to use skin whitening cream:
Asian women have considered skin fairness ideal, since the beginning of times, it has nothing to do with racism.
— GEOPOL (@geo_politiks) June 22, 2020
I don't think skin whitening in Asia is pure racism.Because for 1000 yrs that's how people describe pretty women, smooth silky and white skin blablabla. It's all written in old Chinese poem.Sometimes, some people are getting too sensitive about racism, causing unnecessary tension
— /b:4 🐋 (@skipbrekkie) June 22, 2020
lol, Asian in Asia has nothing to do with this but they will be force to follow whatever people in the west is thinking and doing?
That is another form race oppression or …racism!
— JohnB (@BJbthefirst) June 22, 2020
The decision comes in the wake of other corporations trying to strip alleged “racist” imagery from their product line, with rebranding of the Uncle Ben’s rice and Aunt Jemima’s syrup lines being notable recent examples.