Johnson's Baby Powder Imagery Should Have Been A Skull And Crossbones, Not a Smiling, Happy Baby
Mothers and other women were deceived by the babyface imagery on Johnson's Baby Powder packaging
Thursday, September 16, 2021 - Information is coming forward about the lengths Johnson & Johnson was willing to stoop to protect the stream they were earning from selling Johnson's Baby Powder. Credible reports by Reuters, CNN, NPR, and others allege that the company knew as early as 1971 that talc could contain asbestos and that asbestos was carcinogenic. Instead of placing a talcum powder cancer warning label alerting customers of the dangers of using talcum powder, the company decided to go all-in and amplify their marketing to mothers and their children. The legal community is watching the accusations made in a talcum powder lawsuit filed by the National Council of Negro Women. The lawsuit alleges the company deliberately targeted African American women with their talcum powder advertising, telling or implying that using Johnson's Baby Powder on their genitals would help them smell more "normal." According to NPR, "This company, through its words and images, told Black women that we were offensive in our natural state and needed to use their products to stay fresh, Janice Mathis, executive director of the National Council of Negro Women, in a statement."
According to Ms. Mathis, the advertising caused an entire generation of African American women and their daughters to make using Johnson's Baby Powder part of their everyday routine without warning them of the asbestos cancer dangers that lurked in every bottle of powder. The iconic smiling baby face image on Johnson's Baby Powder packaging is the same as if the company wrote that the product was so safe that it could be used on a baby. When Johnson & Johnson first became aware of the asbestos dangers in talcum powder they fought the Food and Drug Administration which attempted to force the cosmetics industry to adopt a more stringent asbestos testing method. Instead of using the methods that found asbestos in nearly every talc-based cosmetic product tested, the industry set an upper limit of 1% asbestos as being acceptable and within the designation of being cosmetics grade pure. Medical experts agree that no level of asbestos is safe. Even one microscopic particle inhaled or ingested through a mucous membrane could lead to cancer or mesothelioma.
Since the time of the Reuters investigation targeting Johnson & Johnson's nefarious handling of their asbestos talcum powder problem, the company has been hit with billions of dollars in jury awards and more than 30,000 pending lawsuits by women who claim using Johnson's Baby Powder for feminine hygiene cause them to develop ovarian cancer, a death sentence for most who are diagnosed with the disease. In 2020, Johnson & Johnson discontinued selling Baby Powder in North America, but continue to target women of color in India. Alex Gorsky, the company's CEO announced he is resigning under pressure from stockholders critical of his handling of the asbestos public relations nightmare. Johnson & Johnson has threatened to spin off their talcum powder business into a separate entitiy, and then bankrupt the new company to protect the parent company's $500 billion in assets, much of it earned from a century of baby powder sales while lying about the product's safety.