“Does your daughter have a Fair complexion??
This is what every Indian girl’s parents are asked especially before her wedding.
If any girl has a very fair complexion people ask her, “What cream or beauty products do you apply to look fair?”
These are the questions with which every Indian girl is familiar with. For a few minutes we can’t understand how to react? Because we are confused about Was that a compliment or not? Should we suppose to thank for it or argue on such a racist comment and that too in a public place?
Since my childhood I have been watching fairness cream advertisements. I remember I saw an advertisement which featured a college girl who had lost her confidence because of her dark complexion. She gained it back when her friend advised her to use the fairness cream of that brand.
Suddenly a question popped up in my mind. What are these brands trying to prove? How is one’s self-confidence related to one’s complexion? The main argument is that one might have all the talents to achieve what one desires, but lack of having the fair complexion, that person can’t achieve the goal. Does it make any sense??
Are these brands trying to prove that “fair” is better than “dark”?? But, what is “fair”? What is “dark”? These are just skin colours on which our calibre or talents is not depended.
In a country like India where the majority of the population is dark-skinned, there is a widely held belief that dark complexions are inferior to fair ones. This prejudice shows itself everywhere from hiring process where light-skinned people are favoured for ads especially matrimonial ads where fairness is considered as a non-negotiable characteristic of the future bride or groom. In the film or television media, light-skinned actors and models are preferred, while dark-skinned performers are rarely seen on screen. The message is clear: fair skin represents beauty and success and as a result Indians are keen consumers of products that promise to lighten skin colour.
Racism is present deep in India’s history in caste system and colonialism. Skin colour is a sensitive subject because, historically, paler skin signified higher status in India’s intricate caste system. In today’s India it can be found in consumer behaviour and corporate advertising. The fairness industry first evolved as a response to consumer demand. For centuries Indians used natural ingredients, such as lemon or turmeric, to lighten their skin.
In 1975, Unilever launched a commercial skin lightening cream called “Fair & Lovely,” and other companies quickly followed this trend. The creams were originally targeted at women, but over time products emerged for men as well. In 2005, Emami launched the “Fair and Handsome” cream with Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan as its brand ambassador and it is now a market leader. In the ad, Shah Rukh Khan gave a tube of fairness cream to a young fan, telling him that fairness is the secret to success in life. Gorgeous girls can be impressed by having fair skin only.
Fairness products are sold at every price point, from inexpensive lotions to high-end luxury creams, making them accessible to people belonging to different classes. Supermarket shelves are stocked with creams for lightening, whitening, brightening, anti-aging, cleaning and so on.
Fairness creams were developed to fill a specific demand in the Indian market; the survival of the industry now depends on ensuring that consumers continue to want fair skin. This means perpetuating the belief that fair skin is desirable and that dark skin is a problem to be corrected, a message the advertising industry has effectively been able to broadcast. Cosmetic companies also amplify this sentiment by enlisting India’s most popular actors as brand ambassadors for their fairness products.
The ads targeting in a familiar pattern: A dark-skinned actor/actress is shown feeling rejected and hopeless. His/her friend/Bollywood actor shows the secret to a better life —a product (cream, powder) of skin lightener. He/she gets several shades lighter using the skin cream. Soon, he/she is transformed to an ultra-attractive, utterly eligible version of his/her former self.
The list of Bollywood stars endorsing such products for men is impressively long, ranging from superstar Shah Rukh Khan to John Abraham to Shahid Kapur. Bollywood actresses like Yami Gautam, Priyanka Chopra, Katrina Kaif, etc. are endorsing fairness products for women.
Just imagine for a second when a dark skinned boy or girl sees these ads on Television set, magazine newspapers everyday and every time; what will be his/her state of mind? Doesn’t he/she feel insecure about his/ her looks? Doesn’t the confidence level of that person decreases?
Have the people of this country forgotten that a colour of a person is hereditary. We people talk about attacks on Indian students in foreign countries on the basis of colour and give huge lectures when asked about our opinion on Racism. Almost everyone in India is aware about the Mahatma Gandhi train incident where he was pushed out of the first class train compartment in South Africa by the English because he was BLACK. All these incidents are taught to us at childhood so that we don’t support Racism in any manner.
Then why are these advertisements not banned? What’s sad is that many people actually fall for this and become a part these campaigns that we want to defeat theoretically. These mindless advertisements have created an opinion in the majority of us that the white is superior to black.
For example on every matrimonial page one will notice either the groom or the bride’s side asking for a fair complexioned partner. The matrimonial pages of any newspaper are testimony to Indians’ fairness obsession. Darker-skinned brides and grooms are often described as having a “wheat-ish complexion”. They are considered as less favourable for their skin colour only. This is ridiculous. How can you choose a life partner on the basis of his complexion?
On this note I would like to ask a question. Why have people not raised their voices against these Racist advertisements?
We must not forget that a person’s calibre is not to be judged on the basis of his skin colour. In a country where two main Gods of the Hindu Mythology, Lord Shiva and Lord Krishna; Ashoka the great king, Mahatma Gandhi and last not the least the Superstar of all times Rajnikanth are dark skinned, it’s hard to believe people still favour the light skinned ones. Still, there are some Indians who resist the stereotype that fair is beautiful.
You don’t need to be fair to become successful in life. All you need to be a good human being and work hard to achieve success.
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