Johnson & Johnson discontinues skin lightening product range sold in Middle East

Johnson & Johnson discontinues skin lightening product range sold in Middle East
Johnson & Johnson will no longer sell skin lightening products that are sold in the Middle East.
3 min read
20 June, 2020
Mainstream Arab society is waking up to colourism [Getty]
Multinational giant Johnson & Johnson announced that it will discontinue skin lightning products that are sold in the Middle East and Asia.

Johnson & Johnson announced on Saturday the halt of sales for its Clean & Clear Fairness line of products, as well as its Neutrogena Fine Fairness range, as talks against colourism and debates on anti-Blackness grow in the region.

“Conversations over the past few weeks highlighted that some product names or claims on our Neutrogena and Clean & Clear dark-spot reducer products represent fairness or white as better than your own unique skin tone,” the company said in a statement.

“This was never our intention — healthy skin is beautiful skin.”

The global establishment confirmed it would update its websites to remove the now controversial lines, though it said products may be available in stores "for a short while".

“We will no longer produce or ship the product line,” Johnson & Johnson said.

Colourism and anti-Black racism have become widely discussed issues in the Arab world after new Black Lives Matter movement protests erupted following the killing of George Floyd in the United States.

The region upholds the skewed belief that lighter skin is seen as more desirable, forcing those deemed not "light enough" to use dangerous skin lightening methods and products.

However, condemnation of racist acts, such as blackface, have erupted across the Middle East, especially after influencers and celebrities took part in the controversial move to stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Earlier this month, Black Palestinian actress Maryam Abu Khaled posted an Instagram video addressing anti-Blackness in the Arab world.

Abu Khaled, a black woman from Jenin, said that while black people in the Middle East are not being killed by police, racism is a deep-rooted problem in the region.
This includes passive comments on race that appear to be "harmless" but are actually very damaging.

"We can explain that people are different, with all honesty," she said. "Children are truly pure, and they like learning. So teach them what's right from a young age."

Shortly after, Egyptian actor Mohamed Ramadan received support from tens of thousands of fans after he hit back at a racist comment that claimed it a 'disaster' that his children turned out “dark unlike their mother”.

Read also: Dear Arab celebrities: Expressing Black Lives Matter solidarity in blackface is racist 

"I am proud of how I look and how my children look, which was decreed by God. I am happy that my children will grow up to be anti-racist with proof being in their own household that their mother and father are of two different colours,” the actor responded.

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