Elle Whitening Campaign Hits 50,000

We did it again, erectile folks!

Indian consumers have long been inundated with ads that use prominent Bollywood actors to promote skin-lightening products. But the Indian edition of Elle Magazine, a ‘classy’ global publication which one would hope has higher standards, brought in the new year by further enforcing the racial color hierarchy with a white-washed Bollywood actress on the January 2011 cover.

Tens of thousands of Change.org members have told Elle publishers, art directors and editors exactly what we think about the whitening of former Miss World Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, and this weekend the 50,000th person joined the campaign!

For 50,000 people to join a campaign centered around one magazine cover is an incredible testiment to how deeply this kind of cultural racism affects all of us.

The second time in less than six months that Elle Magazine has been involved in a skin whitening controversy, it is simply unacceptable in the year 2011 for a US-run magazine like Elle to be playing into such depictions of women of color.

Does this make you as angry as it did many of us? Tell Elle Magazine what you feel about them ‘whitening’ the skin of Indian women.

This has certainly been one of the more controversial campaigns we have run. Some argued that Elle did not knowingly whiten Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s image. But the wide availability of candid shots of Ms Bachchan safely disproves that thesis.

Others argued it was unfair to target Elle over a practice which is, sadly, quite common.

While that’s a fair critique, tens of thousands of Change.org members were infuriated by the cover and the cultural racism it represents. For better or worse, publications like Elle play a huge role in determining global standards of beauty — especially for young girls and teenagers who read it. It sends a cruel and dangerous message to women of color everywhere when Elle manipulates the skin color of one of India’s most famous actresses just so she can appear on a magazine cover.

Elle Magazine is a business that cares more about its bottom line and public image than anything else – Elle is answerable to its consumers. To change their behavior, and send a message that is heard loud and clear throughout the whole fashion industry, we need a public outcry.

Stand with 50,000 Change.org members and tell Elle Magazine that you will not stand for racist depictions of women, and that you expect a public statement of apology to Ms. Rai-Bachchan for the whitening of her image.

Winning this and similar campaigns depends on our ability to quickly call on thousands of supportive folks like you. After signing the petition below, please click here to help us win!