Most of us are already cognizant of the entrenched racism in the marketing ploys of beauty companies to promote lighter skin as the ideal in India. In fact, I just came across a disgusting Fair & Lovely advert starring Yami Gautam on an Indian channel in the US!
The question is – when will the madness end? It is 2014 for God’s sakes!
We must collectively fight against this marketing menace by harnessing our power as a consumer and stop these commercials from ruining more lives in the future. I humbly request you to share this message and pledge to boycott all fairness products, not only in India but globally.
Do sign this pledge on change.org and confirm your commitment- http://www.change.org/petitions/everyone-boycott-every-fairness-product-in-the-indian-market
In this post, I will list out all the major companies (to the best of my knowledge and research) that are currently in the business of selling fairness products as well as the associated actors who play a part in selling the racism. A noble actor cannot surely be so money-minded that he/she needs to stoop to the level of supporting such an unethical product.
These companies get away with such racist propaganda in developing markets. They would have easily been sued for promoting discrimination in the West. (Tanning products are marketed more subtly in US and Europe whereas fairness ads sell the notion that an individual will have low self-esteem and can’t procure a job or spouse without lightening his/her skin.)
p.s. All product names are cleverly designed with the word “fair”, “white” and “lightening” as constant and variations like Multi Action Fairness, Active Fair, Complete White Perfection, Fair Miracle, Cell Whitening/Lightening, Radiating White Glow of Jesus etc.
Ok the last one is not real, but you get the drift.
Unilever is a key culprit. Its Indian subsidiary, Hindustan Lever manufactures one of the most well-known fairness products in the market – Fair & Lovely. HUL is a pioneer in the representation of non-albino looking women with lower self-esteem and depression. Moreover, they sign on actors with lucrative endorsement deals for which both the celebrity and the company are to blame. With such a controversial product on the market, you think Unilever would end it there. But they also have Ponds White Beauty, Vaseline Whitening, Axe etc. in their product lines. Axe feeds on the notion that women are objects who will flock to men who smell like the shitty perfume they sell and Dove fools women to think they are beautiful as long as their armpits are photoshopped and like other beauty company gimmicks, our skin looks unreal without any pores. For now, however, I will primarily focus on their Fair & Lovely, Ponds and Vaseline brand of fairness products.
Beauty pageant winner Priyanka Chopra apparently has no qualms in telling the world that her own beauty lies in being light skinned and vying for an asshole of man (Saif Ali Khan) who rejects her for her skin tone in her earlier Ponds White Beauty adverts. She was heavily criticized for her role in these commercials but she continues to endorse other fairness creams through Garnier, thereby promoting more world peace through her beauty title. Btw, Ponds is also a major endorser of Femina Miss India pageants. Oh, the irony really stings!
Aishwarya Rai, another beauty queen, started her acting career on a similar note with this Fair & Lovely Commercial with Mahima Chaudhary.
Other Fair & Lovely nincompoop actresses include Genelia D’souza, Ileana D’Cruz, Asin, Juhi Chawla, Yami Gautam etc.
Here’s Virat Kohli letting you know that attracting women depends on how well you can fend bouncers on the field and bounce off sun rays from your face with a science defying lotion.
Fair & Lovely
Shahid Kapur is known as the chocolate boy of Bollywood but I guess we must change that to Vaseline Vanilla Man now.
Vaseline Whitening Cream
Shah Rukh Khan
His tagline should be, “Kya aap bakchod hain? Kyunki main world’s no 1. bakchod hoon!”
Emami Fair & Handsome
Why should a tobacco company be far behind when it comes to making money off racism with its Vivel brand of Fairness Cream? Here is a bullshit of a commercial where a college student is afraid to sing because she is not fair enough. That idiotic logic didn’t stop maestros like Himesh Reshammiya and Yo Yo Honey Singh.
This ad is another blatant examples of newbie heroines acting in fairness cream commercials at the onset of their Bollywood career. I sincerely hope this trajectory ends for future actresses.
JOHNSON & JOHNSON – NEUTROGENA
Deepika Padukone has portrayed many party girl roles in movies, but she seems to be inebriated enough to endorse a fairness cream too. Someone help her get sober!
Fine Fairness Cream
Procter & Gamble- OLAY
Katrina Kaif endorses the obvious – she is already a chikni chameli so she sells a fairness cream and though, she has no signs of body hair, so she endorses Veet. Next thing you know, she has opened an acting academy primarily focused on item numbers.
Natural White cream
Beiersdorf – NIVEA
Want to wear a backless dress? Make sure it has the “tide waali safedi” like Anushka suggests else your racist boyfriend may *gasp* ditch you. We hope he falls in a ditch of Fair & Lovely goo!
Whitening Cell Repair Lotion
Trust Sonam Kapoor to endorse anything that can send her to Cannes where she can act plenty “white.”
John Abraham’s jingle: Subha Hone Na De….Ek Dusre Ko Hum Tanned Hone Na De….
Fairness Moisturizer for Men
Saumya Tandon seems to be more artificially translucent than Casper the Friendly Ghost.
Sonakshi Sinha demonstrates that the burning chemical effects of bleach can make you happier and horny at the same time.
It is one thing if you wish to bleach unwanted hair but to specifically market a product to bleach the skin to make it fairer as a sign of beautiful skin is pure racism.
Kangana Ranaut once said in an interview that endorsing a fairness product is akin to criminal activity and she backed up her words by rejecting a lucrative 2 crore endorsement. Chitraganda Singh is another heroine who refuses to participate in any fairness cream commercials. Nandita Das, one more brilliant actress, even went on to campaign against these fairness creams through her “Stay Unfair, Stay Beautiful” campaign. Kudos to all these women!
Background: There are myriad contexts in which this fairness obsession in India may have taken birth ranging anywhere from mythology (e.g. the beloved Krishna song “Radha kyun gori, main kyun kala?” Why is Radha fair and I, black?) to history (the era of British imperialism where the white rulers were accorded with more respect) to the approach that darkened skin is associated with the poor who are likely to spend all their time laboring out in the sun. There is even the notion of desiring the “exotic”, be it tanned skin tone in US and fair, in India etc.
Men and women may suggest their preferences for a dusky Chitranganda Singh or John Abraham over a fairer actor or actress but to suggest that tanned folks are more attractive than the shallow fair skin toned individuals doesn’t help the cause either. All skin tones are beautiful in their own natural state.
With greater literacy post-independence and intermingling of all the diversity of folks within the larger economic and cultural pot of India, those aforementioned contexts should not be relevant excuses to promote one skin tone over another.
The greatest brainwashing does not come from any of the former hypotheses but from the subliminal messaging in the racist adverts themselves. Sure there may be a host of other factors that encourage the perception that being fair is a good thing, say from condescending remarks of relatives, or the “acceptable” standards of beauty in magazines and cinema but the root of the problem lies in the marketing itself. These ads are so toxic that many naturally beautiful women feel they have some deficiency by not having the computer generated fairness depicted on the women.
To be honest, we are all tired of addressing this issue time and time again. Why are such products still surfacing on TV, web, and print?
It is not enough that we attack the commercials but bring about a larger conscious movement to boycott every goddamn fairness product available in the market.
The only way these companies will retract their racist propaganda product is when we hurt their bottom line. Though it would be “fairer” to gift the beauty industry with a class action lawsuit, boycotting serves the same purpose with less of a publicity footprint. If there are any companies or products I have missed, do share them in the comment box. Thank you!
p.s. Think wisely before you support a company or a celebrity who may conceal their intentions with fancy words and awards yet their actions show otherwise. Let’s raise more awareness and bring the racist propaganda in India to a close by next year!