Dear Fair and Lovely Brand Owners and Promoters,
I grew up watching the “Fair and Lovely” or “Fair and handsome” advertisements that are all over the television channels. The advertisements of your product has played a very significant role in my growing up process. Why, you may ask? To put it very straight, I have a dusky complexion – which does not fit into the stereotypical definition of beauty that is assigned by the society we live in. Whenever I would watch the advertisement of your product, I would feel like I have done something wrong to have been born into this skin color, and I felt like I should change it. Well, you should be happy because that is what your advertisements promoted anyway! The basic story-line always was that a dark-skinned girl is experiencing failures, rejection, hatred etc. from people around her until she uses your product that makes her dark skin go away and makes her fair and ta-da, she gets promoted, she has more friends, many boys ask her out and she is loved by everyone basically.
Imagine an 8-year-old girl watching this advertisement, looks at herself in the mirror and sees that she is the same skin color as the girl in the former part of the advertisement. What thoughts does she have inside her mind then? Let’s brainstorm over it! Well, she might think she is not beautiful enough, she might feel as though people won’t be friends with her, she might think she is not smart enough and mainly, she would feel like she must change her skin color. I have a 7-year-old niece who tried to wash her dark skin away by excessively using some whitening soaps on her legs. And the worst part is that all her mom did was laugh at what her daughter was doing. Later she confronted her daughter saying that the dark skin will go away if she studies well. A 7-year old girl, who knows nothing about the world, has been conditioned into the notion that she is ugly because she has dark skin and she can either use some whitening product or she can study well so as to remove the darkness in her skin. Well, cheers to that! The media promotes fair skin. The parents promote fair skin. And from very childhood, little girls and boys grow up thinking that fair skin is the epitome to describe beautiful or handsome. Awesome! Well congratulations to you, because your product has a great role to play in encouraging this perception.
To be honest, I am not against fairness products or whitening creams. I am not against your product, let me specify this. I am only against the representation of these products by the media. I, personally have gone through some major self-esteem issues in my early childhood because of these advertisements. I would look at myself and all I saw was an ugly girl, and I associated it with everything. I thought I was not good enough to come first in my class. I thought I was not capable of making friends. To be honest, I don’t remember finding myself beautiful until the age of 13 or 14, and that impacted a hell lot in my life. And to top it off, I had a lot of relatives telling me that I was uglier than my sister because she has fair skin. I would secretly use Fair and Lovely before going to school and all I wanted was fairer skin. As I grew up, I became more confident about my skin. How? – Because of my mother, who made sure that I was comfortable in my skin and in my body. She made sure I did not degrade my self-image because of what others had opinions of me. She would call me beautiful even when I thought I was not. She would always tell me that we should not focus on what we look like because there is much more to a person and there are no parameters to beauty. And that gave me confidence. I started looking at myself and I liked how I look like.
I am one in a million people who are affected by your advertisements. We talk about racism in a large scale, and I think these advertisements of fairness products are also promoting racism. In the earlier 20th century, the term “mongoloids” was used to refer to people with down-syndrome, highlighting on the fact that Mongoloids are not as capable as Caucasians, and that became one of the things that triggered racial discrimination against Mongoloids in the earlier days. Quite similar to this, your advertisements also promote that dark-skinned people are not as capable as the fair-skinned people are, and that has a greater impact on people because it is the media that is promoting the idea in a very large scale. I mean, it was an Indian advertisement originally, that was translated into many other languages including Nepali so that people of all language understand it and believe in it. And it was promoted internationally. That is how important the media thinks promoting fair skin is. You want to sell your product, I get it. You have a huge market demand because of it. But I think we are in the time where we are well-aware about how much media can affect a person’s self-esteem. Then, how come you haven’t understood that? Why is it that all that your product promotes is how magical it is to have a brighter skin complexion? Why?
As much as I hate it, your product has a great market value. Your advertisements get a lot of audience. So here’s an advice! Why don’t you use your media platform to aware people that every skin type is beautiful and you don’t have to have ”fair” skin to achieve great things in life? For once, instead of promoting your idea of what “beauty” is, try promoting “self-love” and maybe then your advertisement will start making sense. Because you know what? Not everyone’s mothers teach them to love themselves. In some families, dark-skinned people are considered as curse and your advertisements put a cherry on that cake. Well, this is just an advice, take it if you want! And please once in a while, ask yourself, is fair only the lovely?
With hope for change,