Video ad on 'dark armpits' hits the pits
Thigh gap. A tummy that's less than flat. Uneven-coloured skin.
Do women now need to start worrying about dark underarms too?
According to a video posted by beauty brand Nivea, it is a problem that might get you dirty looks.
And it has got some netizens up in arms over what they saw as promoting insecurity among women who have dark armpits.
The ad also upset the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware), which called it "disrespectful".
The supposedly humorous three-minute video by Nivea Singapore, which was taken down from Facebook yesterday, shows popular YouTube star Maimunah Bagharib (better known as Munah of wacky duo MunahHirzi) being shunned by different people for having dark armpits.
The video, which was first uploaded on Feb 28, was supposed to promote Nivea's Extra White and Firm Q10 Deodorant.Many netizens were critical of the ad, saying that it blatantly promotes "body-shaming".
One netizen, Ms Su Hee, said on Facebook: "So sad that women have been portrayed as the pariah of society just because of their dark underarms. Nivea, I hope you know what you've done to perpetuate the idea that women have to look flawless to be respected."
"I saw no humour in this advertisement and am also quite disappointed in (Munah)," she added.
Actress Munah did not want to comment.
Miss Zoe Ng, 24, a public relations executive,said: "I can't believe that beauty brands are now using the media to highlight another possible imperfection that women may have. I didn't even know that I had to worry about my discoloured armpits."
Ms Jolene Tan, the communications senior manager of Aware, said: "The ad explicitly says that it is embarrassing for women who have armpits that are a little discoloured."
She added: "Every single scene shows the main character as someone who doesn't belong in public spaces and there's nothing funny about that."
But there were some who thought that these netizens should lighten up.
Ms Kellie Tan, 28, an accountant, said: "It made me laugh and it was obviously done for comic effect so I don't understand why people are so upset about it. They are clearly promoting a product to help with a problem that some women might face."
While Nivea has yet to respond to press queries, the company did reply to some unhappy comments.
It said: "...What constitutes an attractive woman stems from more than just physical features, and what we're trying to do... is to use humour to bring awareness to an issue many women feel less confident about, and to provide a solution."
WHAT HAPPENS IN THE VIDEO
A man cuts in front of Munah while she is trying to flag a cab.
Unhappy, she walks up to him and lifts her arms to get his attention.
The man shakes his head in disapproval.
Munah shares a seat with a middle-aged woman while waiting for a friend.
She lifts her arms to tie her hair and the woman takes a look at her armpits and mutters repeatedly: "Very jialat (very terrible in Hokkien), man".
Munah has lunch with her friend and she raises her arm to get the attention of the waiter at a restaurant.
Her friend stares at her armpits and clearly looks disturbed.
- PHOTOS: FACEBOOK.COM/NIVEA
At the gym, Munah spots a "cutie" and exchanges flirty looks with the man (played by former Singapore Idol contestant Paul Twohill). He ends up teaching her how to exercise her arms using dumbbells, but when he sees her armpits, Twohill immediately runs out of the gym.
More pay for lighter armpits
More women are seeking treatment to lighten their underarms, said beauty parlours.
Pink Parlour, which offers underarm whitening service, said that from 2013 to 2014, it saw a 20 per cent increase in the number of clients seeking fairer underarms. It has an average of about 100 clients every month.
"We introduced the treatment two years ago after our whitening products proved to be very popular. There was immediate demand," said its director Wendi Chan.
The treatment, called Snow White Whitening Underarm, costs $41 a session. Customers have to buy a minimum of seven sessions.
She said: "Women like to wear sleeveless clothes because of the warm climate and naturally, they feel self-conscious in everyday situations like holding the handles (of bus and trains).
"Furthermore, long-term shaving (can) lead to dark and pigmented underarms and also unsightly ingrown (hairs)."
Local wellness company Bioskin, which also offers underarm whitening treatment, also reported an increase in demand for underarm services.
Its spokesman Lynette Lin said that sales for their Dermabrasion Whitening Treatment has gone up 30 to 40 per cent from 2013 to 2014.
Ms Lin said that with higher disposable income these days, women are investing in beauty services.
"After taking care of their face, hair and external appearance, we are not surprised that the next in line would be more intimate areas like the underarm," she said.