'Jesus' cosmetics range withdrawn in Singapore after Catholic outrage

Andrew Buncombe,Asia Correspondent
Thursday 14 February 2008 01:00
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A retailer in Singapore has withdrawn a cosmetics range with a religious theme after people complained that the products were "disrespectful" to Jesus.

The tongue-in-cheek range, named Lookin' Good for Jesus, upset Catholics, who said the line trivialised Christianity. The cosmetics, made by a US company, include hand cream and bubble bath.

The company also sold a "virtuous vanilla" lip balm, under the slogan "Look your Sunday best! Guaranteed to help you be worthy and get noticed by the King of Kings". Other slogans dreamt up by the company, Blue Q, to sell their gels and lotions included "Get tight with Christ", "Get His Attention" and "Redeem Your Reputation and More".

While the line of products may have intended to amuse, apparently not everyone saw the joke. Singapore's Christian population is about 14 per cent of the 4.4 million total, while more than 50 per cent is Buddhist. One resident, Nick Chui, said he saw the items in a Topshop outlet, operated by the retailer Wing Tai Holdings, and wrote a letter of complaint.

He said the products trivialised both Jesus Christ and Christianity. "There are also sexual innuendoes in the messages and the way Jesus is portrayed in these products," Mr Chui, 27, told The Straits Times newspaper.

Grace Ong, an accountant, was also upset by the products. She said: "Why would anyone use religious figures to promote vanity products? It's very disrespectful and distasteful."

Apparently concerned about the response from such customers and fearful of further backlash, Wing Tai Holdings announced it would not longer stock the products, which it sells in the three Topshop stores it operates. "We don't want to offend our customers," said a company spokesman.

No one from Blue Q was available for comment last night. In addition to the cosmetics, the Lookin' Good For Jesus line of products also includes a mirrored Jesus statuette, featuring a drawing of Jesus flanked by two adoring women.

One intriguing item is a "Believe in God Breath Spray"; another a Jesus shopping bag.

But a browse of the company's website suggests their products are designed to raise a smile rather than court trouble. The company also sells cosmetics under the brand names Cat Butt, Dirty Girl and Wash Away Your Sins.

Whether the company also appreciates the free advertising the controversy has created is another matter. Blue Q has been making such products and receiving the good and bad press for more than two decades, after being set up by two brothers from Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Products they have sold in the past have included a breath spray which claimed to "instantly" provide a user with an Irish accent.

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