Fair = Perfect Partner. Yeah Right !

By | 16:17 14 comments

sspIndia is full of stereotypes.  I’ve come to learn of them during my 3.5 years in the country.  But what really irks me to my core is how everyone associates ‘being fair’ to ‘finding a perfect match’. 

Ladies and gents (from India) – you know what I am talking about.  My grandmother hates it when I get tanned; she feels that no guy (or guys’ family) will want a ‘dark’ girl as a potential addition to their household.  I love being tanned – the way my skin has a healthy glow to it.  But apparently it will restrict my chances of finding a nice guy !

So no surprise that I was appalled and shocked at the series of advertisements (5 actually !) for Ponds Cream to promote their cream ‘White Beauty’.  Here are the adverts for you to watch : Episode 1; Episode 2; Episode 3; Episode 4 and Episode 5.

makeup advise

How on earth can one justify that by using a ‘fairness’ cream can help one land the man / woman of their dreams.  It’s just SAD.  Within the Indian society – there is this uncanny obsession with being ‘fair’ and using that as a criteria to select a partner.

Of course this also happens in other countries but it’s not used as a basis for finding a partner.  European & American ‘white’ men & women want to get ‘tanned’ and ‘get darker’ so they can look good.  Then you have the Indian community who instead of being happy of their natural skin tones (and mind you there are some beautiful tones out there) are going out of their way and using products that can harm and damage their skin.  For what ? To be FAIR because the society thinks it’s better than being your natural colour ??

skin pigmentationI sometimes feel that Indians are the most racist amongst themselves as a community due to the prejudices within the society as a whole.  Have you ever come across a matrimonial advert or seen the criteria on match-making / matrimonial websites ?  There is a section for ‘skin colour’ !!! If that’s not racist – I don’t know what else is !  For those who opt for ‘arranged marriages’ – being ‘fair’ is one of the criteria set out for brides-to-be.  Oh and if the girl is ‘fair’ AND ‘thin’ then she’s a prize winner (doesn’t matter if the guy in question is an ugly ducking or the size of Yokozuna)

What shocks me more is that celebrities are even promoting and encouraging such ridiculous and delusional ideas.  The advert itself is just so OTT it gets on my nerves.  I’ve seen Priyanka Chopra (the actress who uses the cream in the ad) in person and the woman is NOT fair by any standard.  She’s got a dusky complexion.  In fact most of the models / actresses in Bollywood are ‘dusky’ rather than ‘fair’ i.e. Bipasha Basu (she’s hot); Rani Mukherjee; Kajol; Kareena Kapoor (she was always dusky, don’t know how she got so ‘fair’ now!); Shilpa Shetty; Sushmita Sen etc.  Shouldn’t they be taking a stand and NOT encouraging such attitudes ?  The majority of the population is in awe of these actors / actresses and fall into the herd mentality of believing that if the celebs use XYZ products then it must work ! 

One can’t go around stating that being ‘fair’ means that you are automatically better than the next person.  I think the adverts fail (for me at least) as it’s a very unrealistic story and doesn’t quite fit the product.  Now if they were using the product to help get rid of excessive tans; reduce dark pigmentation on skin due to excess exposure to the sun – it makes more sense. 

Unfortunately (and fortunately for Ponds) – the product can capitalize (and IS) on the fact that people within the Indian societies have inferiority complexes and hence will actually buy the product !!

What are your thoughts on the subject ? Do you believe that celebrities should endorse products that somehow impose an inferiority complex on the population ? Should ‘skin tone’ even be considered as a physical attribute when describing your ideal partner ? Don’t we have other things to worry about in an already very complex world  ?

Further Reading :

  1. Lost Love & Fair Skin by Reema
  2. Conversations - Great White Hope by Kuzhali Manickaval
  3. Fairly Neurotic by Mark Jacobs
  4. The Dark Side of Skin Whitening Cream by Sunny Hundal for the Guardian (link courtesy Angelina JoLoveless)
  5. Beyond The Pale by Naresh Puri for BBC

And if you have a 5 more minutes to spare – check out the views shared by The Young Turks network channel.


rustom said...

so agree. totally disrespect SRK and any others who advertise skin bleaching crap. Of course SRK is fair - his family is pathan.

in the west, they make an effort on TV to represent the ethnic diversity of the country - here they make an effort to do the opposite - 95% of indians are darker than the fair n ugly idiots on TV and films, whose main qualification is their fairness. And that cream must really screw up people's skin too...

But I wonder - would a TV company/media group seriously risk running a campaign against the concept of fairness creams? After all, they are one of the biggest advertisers...

What would be good would be to have some dark skinned heros and heroins in bollywood - asthetics can change quickly through bollywood influence - look at how ideal women have gone from being plump to slim in 15 years.

Dazediva said...

@ Rustom .. it's so true ! Brands almost consciously only use the extremely fair models / actors to represent themselves; even the Bollywood TV soaps portray the same thing. It's just sad that as a country, one is ashamed to accept the fact that there is a diversity in the skin tone of the individuals.

I reckon if media took a stand, sure there might be a bit of whiplash from the brands promoting these products (they stand to lose business) but it would at least create 'awareness' amongst the population that it's OK to be the person you are i.e. you don't NEED to be fair to be accepted. You can be who you are.

Fairness creams should take a different approach to promoting their products. There's a brand Lotus that offers a 'de-tan' / 'after sun' cream .. yes in it removes the tan and 'lightens' the skin so in essence can fall under 'fairness cream'. The difference is that its brand message is not abut the fairness, it's about protecting yourself from the effects of being in the sun too long.

There are quite a few dark skinned heroes & heroines i.e. Akshay Kumar, Hritik Roshan, Suniel Shetty, Abhishek Bachan, Ajay Devgan; and all the ladies I have mentioned.

All the other B-town ladies have gone through body bleaching and other skin treatments to look 'fairer' than their natural tones.

Thanks for your comment :)

Sunil Ahuja said...

You're right- Indians are the biggest racists and they victimise themselves most of all.

It's quite disgusting the way our whole population seems to be brainwashed with this idea of fair skin being more more attractive. Supposedly educated, forward thinking people find it absolutely weird that I have a thing for tans.

If you want have a good laugh, visit any matrimonial site and search for women by skin colour. I will bet good money that in a whole country of dreamy brown skin there wont be a single woman listed as 'dark'. (Why I know this is a matter of considerable embarrassment and amusement; but that's another rant.)

Angelina JoLoveless said...

I once saw a before and after picture of an African-American actor who had used bleaching creams. Before the cream, he looked good and healthy. Afterwards, oh man, he looked 'ashen' and splotchy. It was very sad to think that he thought that he'd improved his looks by bleaching his skin.

I suppose it has long been ingrained so deeply into some cultures that fair skin = higher class and dark/tanned = peasant working in the rice fields.

I found this article on the same topic, written by a man who learned that someone actually died from using a skin bleaching cream:


(I'm of mixed ethnicities and I LOVE having a perma tan and I LOVE getting even browner in the summer!)

Dazediva said...

@ Sunil .. Don't worry, I also know 'why' you know about search criteria on matrimonial sites !!

@ AngelinaJoLoveless .. thanks for your comment and sharing the Guardian article link.

I'm with you on how some cultures ingrain thoughts that lighter skin is associated with higher class; and darker skin with workers / farmers / labour work in the sun. The Indian culture definitely has that mentality. It's just sad that after so many advances and progress in all areas of life - the few things we can't change is attitude and mindset.

I'm so happy about my own natural olive / dusky skin tone; and I look forward to getting that bronze glow on my skin from a tan. I remember back in uni in Montreal - the cold eventually took its toll and I looked like I had been 'sick' for weeks with this very faded ashen & spotchy look !! Eww !! I couldn't wait for the sun to come out so I could soak in the rays !

N.C said...

I say lets hit the beaches of goa.... sun spa sangria ...tick tock flip *ahem* *ahem* work on the sex-eh tan is an awesome plan!I dont care if I'm 60 single and wrinkly coz I'll still "be comfortable in my own skin"...xxx

Dazediva said...

@ NC .. tick tock and Goa calling baby !! Its good to know you are comfortable in your own skin, will keep reminding you of this line if you ever complain about anything :P xx

Anonymous said...

I've said this earlier-things r not as bad as they seem. i am freakishly fair (u have to see me to believe me) but all thru school and work etc the girls who got the attention were the 'hot' ones with better figures. which brings us to the body image debate. oh well, u cant win them all!

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Prateek Bagri said...

Indians are definitely racist among themselves. The stereotype of fairness has always been a subject of my irritation.

Dazediva said...

@ ConfusedYuppie .. don't even get me started on the body image debate; women are just a piece of meat to men. The perfect woman will be educated, intelligent, very fair, tall, very slim, and can cook & clean !

Why not just make a cream that is 'fair & slim' instead of 'fair & lovely' ?

@ Prateek .. thanks for stopping by my blog and sharing your thoughts :)

Internet Person said...

My thoughts exactly, and I'm a guy. :/ Even my intellectual snob friends (all of 'em :)) are not exempt from this kind of thinking - the only difference is that they're aware that such views are stupid, and so go around half-apologizing for holding such without ever coming close to rejecting them (that's worse).

The sheer *scale* of skin-colour brainwashing that's prevalent in our society is staggering because hardly anyone ever considers that there might be something morally dodgy happening. Well, all change starts small and I'm personally happy to observe the recent trend towards appreciating 'hotness'. Now that's something far more egalitarian than some pointless pursuit of fairness.

(Oh, and you forgot Deepika Padukone. :) )

Maverick's Musings said...

Had written on the same topic. Let me know how u feel abt it.. http://rcindranil.blogspot.com/2009/12/skin-deep-prejudice.html

Dazediva said...

@ Abhinav .. good to hear your views on this subject :) It's sad but true - society doesn't believe there is anything 'wrong' with this kind of brain-washing.

@ Mavericks' Musings ... thanks for your link; checked out your post; interesting debate going on in there :)