Who's the ''brightest'' of them all?

'WHITE' LIES

Who's the ''brightest'' of them all?

Fairness creams these days have induced an inferior complexity of sorts, opine Ierene Francis & Seema S Hegde

A few years ago, fairness was just relegated to girls who wanted their potential husbands to like them instantly. Now men and women apparently need to get light skinned, not just for marriage but job interviews and making friends. Why, fair skin is crucial to success, they claim. Instead of progressing to a meritocracy, we are regressing to a society where skin colour matters and everyone seems to be okay with it!

Fairness to brightness

In fact, ‘fair’ is an old fashioned term, and is being replaced by terms like ‘radiant, bright, light, and white’. When we turn on the television, all we see are ads telling us that our skin is not radiant or bright enough. And not just the face anymore, but our whole body also has to be as ‘fair’ as our face. Brands are perpetrating the idea that “your fair skin is just hiding behind a layer of dirt/oil/dead skin and the cream just removes that ‘dark layer’ or ‘repairs cells’ to make you look as fair as you rightfully should”.

At the outset, the advertisements target the audience psychologically by saying over and over again - “if one does not have fair complexion, then that is the worst thing that can happen” and they have been successful in making people believe that! Once the wrong notion of a relation between fair complexion and success in life is implanted in the minds of the people, purpose of the advertisement is served.

Let us think

What could be the cause for this surge in popularity of fairness creams? Is the new guise of a ‘radiance’ cream more acceptable than a ‘fairness’ cream? Are the advertisements perpetrating the idea that fair skin is not only desirable but achievable? Do we think negatively about someone based solely on their dark skin colour? Is this ok? Is skin colour an indicator of someone’s abilities, nature or goodness? Are we encouraging the future generations to go back to a colourist frame of mind? Above all, are we sure about the chemicals that are used in those creams?

What is the kind of regulation on these creams? How ‘natural’ are natural fairness creams? Do we fool ourselves into believing the skin of the model in the fairness cream advertisement actually changed after using that cream? Let us understand that it is ‘melanin’ that is produced in the body which makes skin look ‘dark’ and protects us from the sun and skin cancers. Be warned: meddling with melanin using skin whitening creams can cause numerous skin problems.

Something fishy

If we look two decades back, suddenly many Indian women started winning at the international beauty pageants. The trend continued for a few years and then stopped. Does that mean Indian women are no longer beautiful? Of course not! If we read between the lines, the women started bringing home the crowns right at the time when India opened its economy to the world and the cosmetics industry.

Especially when the fairness cream industry was targeting a huge population for its lucrative business. The major sponsors of the beauty pageants are fairness cream manufacturers. Now that the cosmetics industry is very well established in India and is growing at the rate of 20% per annum, there is no need to crown Indian women any more. Although not all the cosmetics are harmful and many of them may be useful, in the name of cosmetics, the natural skin tone of most Indians causes it to be a target for cosmetics manufacturers.

Reality check

A decade ago, the claim made by the fairness creams to give a fair complexion to the user in six weeks did not seem to yield the expected results and in the next claim time span was reduced to four weeks, and now the claim is ‘instant fairness’. If we think realistically, we will know that all these are false claims that have been in the air for the past two decades. First of all, let us think - even if the claims made by fairness cream manufacturers are true, why do we want fair skin? Do we think it is superior to dark skin? Since when did the skin colour we were born with become an indicator of our abilities and success?

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