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Unfair Business

July 4, 2011

Wonder when India’s obsession with fair skin will be quelled. What’s alarming is that it’s the educated, seemingly cultured and upwardly mobile lot that has been influencing the minds of millions, nay, billions of Indians.

Vichy whitening product

Anyone who watches TV, has a TV or can even spell TV is bombarded with imagery that suggests fair is good. Advertisements especially those of the infamous Fair and Lovely fairness cream blatantly say that once a dusky complexioned girl becomes fair, her fortunes magically change for the better- be it procuring her dream job or perfect groom. It’s like saying that all of the woman’s achievements, capabilities and qualifications go flying out of the window just because the employers are looking for a ‘fair’ girl for the job? Or the ‘perfect groom’ is looking for fair complexion as an asset over compatibility in a bride? Sure, if he’s a world class dumbass.

Such disgusting, regressive, sexist and prejudiced advertisements should be banned by the Indian Information and Broadcast Ministry. Why are feminists sitting out on this issue?

A still from the infamous Fair and Lovely commercial

Emami fair and Handsome promises ' strong fairness' for men, whatever that means

Every single cosmetic brand in India is guilty of endorsing this heinous idea, through advertisements as well as product development – Vaseline’s Whitening lotion, Garner’s Fairness Face wash, Loreal’s White Perfect, various fairness products by Nivea, Vichy, Dabur, Nutrogena – Somebody please stop the fairness nonsense already!

Sales figures show fairness products as the no 1. top-selling items in the Indian cosmetic market- what with the market size for fairness products being pegged at Rs 15,000 crore. At the rate manufacturers are making these products and consumers are lapping them up, this fairness bubble is only going to get bigger, unless  this vicious juggernaut is brought to a grinding halt.


Apart from being prejudiced, regressive and downright offensive, these fairness products are proven to be extremely harmful to the skin- The strong bleach and other chemicals used in these products destroy the skin over time- regular use is catastrophic for your skin. It not only loosens and thins it out, but also makes your skin more photosensitive and prone to premature wrinkling and aging. Prolonged usage of these ingredients lead to a condition called ‘Ochnorosis’ where there is a
permanent darkening of the skin and/or severe acne condition.

Ad for Loreal White Perfect

The ideology behind the production and marketing of such creams and lotions is just wrong. It feeds off the insecurities of Indian men and women- possibly ingrained in our psyche by our erstwhile Caucasian rulers or the caste system that deemed fair-skinned Indians to belong to the ‘upper castes’.

That happened almost a century ago…but why are we still be stuck in a time warp? While Caucasians miss no opportunity to tan themselves, we Indians and even other Asians are still struggling to whiten our skin for some odd reason- The whites want to tan themselves and the Asians want to whiten up for a somewhat ideal beige coloring for the entire human race?

Say NO to fairness products. Do yourself a favor and dump all those harmful and offensive fairness products in the trash can, where they belong. Spread the word and create awareness… if not us  educated, sensitive and aware women, who else will be able to make the change happen? It’s gotta start somewhere and sometime. So why not here and now?

Remember, the only skin that’s beautiful is one that you’re comfortable and healthy in!

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