Answer by Raakhee V. Menon:
Thank you for the A2A.
That’s because ‘natural dusky skin’ is not seen as a thing of beauty by many. A lot of people in India don’t care if a woman has a nose like a pig snout or lips that look like they’ve been bitten by an army of ants if she has milky white skin. Personally, I like women who have dusky skin. I am not very ‘fair’ myself.
If you switch on any Indian TV channel, the maximum number of advertisements would be for fairness products and life insurance 😀 Apparently, those are the two most relevant products in an average Indian’s life.
The messages being put out by these ads are repulsive to say the least. They suggest that a woman who isn’t noticed by a man she fancies would suddenly notice her after she uses a certain face cream for two weeks! Or that she gets ignored at a job interview because she’s dark and then after she uses the fairness cream, she gets selected even without an interview! Like how sickening is this?
A lot of organizations have raised their voices against these ads and have received tremendous support.
There is was this nationwide campaign that was launched to curb this rage some time back. There’s a particular campaign video that I’d like to share here…
This is the typical scenario in any average Indian household…not the girl’s reaction, but the grandmother’s concern. That grandmother is the voice of millions of mothers and aunts across India. And that girl’s voice is that of millions of helpless girls who have little they could do but meekly obey.
Indians have mixed skin tones…some are very dark, some are dusky, some wheatish, and some look like they’ve just stepped out in a milk body pack!
And everyone wants to look a little fairer than how they actually are. They feel that they would be more socially accepted if they look fair. And mind you, this isn’t just with women. Even the men aren’t far behind.
These ads talk about how men can get extra successful in their professional life and their love life if they ‘look fair’. Like wow! -_-
When I was at college, I have myself seen so many guys buy fairness creams discreetly off the counter. They didn’t want anyone to know they’re using those. The guys used to buy fairness creams with the same level of discreetness as the girls used to buy their packs of sanitary napkins 😛 LOL
Even today, when there’s a marriage happening, one of the first descriptions of the bride-to-be or groom-to-be that is given to eager relatives is their skin color.
The boy looks like a north Indian, very fair chap!…The bride is not very fair but she has long hair…
What a stupid set of descriptions!! And it goes without saying that in communities where giving and taking dowry is common, the amount of dowry the girl’s father has to shell out is directly proportional to the girl’s duskiness. The darker she is, the more money he has to raise. Disgusting! >.<
Indians have always been obsessed with fairness. It’s nothing new. When a woman is pregnant, she is given milk infused with saffron so that baby is born with fair skin. I don’t know if there is any science behind this. Before a wedding, the bride (and in some communities, even the groom) has an elaborate ceremony known as Haldi.
This involves the application of turmeric on the face, neck, arms and feet of the bride (and groom) by near and dear ones. Besides other reasons, one of the purposes behind this is to make the bride look extra fair and radiant on the wedding day. This is an age-old tradition and is still followed very religiously even today. It’s largely a fun event and nobody really thinks about the deeper meanings much.
So it is only natural that Indians do have this obsession with fair skin and they would go all out to see to it that they appear at least two notches fairer than how they actually are. I don’t claim to have been immune to this. When I was in my teenage, I remember hesitantly asking my mother to buy me a fairness cream. She looked at me and asked me “Why?” I told her that I felt I looked very dark and that all my friends at school were using fairness creams. She bought me a good quality moisturizer and told me not to believe in this fair skin mumbo-jumbo. It was definitely desirable for a woman to have healthy, soft and supple skin…but it didn’t matter if she was dusky or not. She explained to me how these creams had bleach and other chemicals in them and how they would destroy my natural skin texture in the long run. My skin color is still the same. But thanks to my mother’s timely advice, I have good and healthy skin now 🙂 And to me, that is more important than looking like a tube light.
Thankfully, the government has finally taken notice of this menace and a major crackdown is happening on at least the fairness cream ads ()