The CLR James Journal

Volume 29, Issue 1/2, Fall 2023

Annalee RingOrcid-ID
Pages 221-251

Fanon and Soap Advertising
The Colonial Mythology of Cleanliness

This paper critically examines the pervasive colonial myth that associates whiteness with cleanliness and blackness with dirtiness, a myth often perpetuated through media, especially soap advertisements. Through an analysis of Frantz Fanon’s contributions to psychoanalysis and phenomenology, the paper elucidates how racial constructs are sociogenically constructed and internalized, shaping the collective unconscious. Focusing on Fanon’s phenomenological exploration of the white gaze, the paper highlights its role in overdetermining the black man, reducing them to an object embodying racial myths. The paper demonstrates the enduring influence these entrenched myths have on racialized habits of perception and advocates for their disruption. The ongoing presence of colonial mythologies in modern soap advertising demonstrates the need for a concerted effort to dismantle these sedimented habits. The conclusion focuses specifically on challenging the myth of whiwhiteness as cleanliness as it continues to operate.