Stay UNfair, Stay Beautiful!
India should be guilty of depicting an insensitive message that “only light skinned people are beautiful”. Media, advertisers, and the cosmetic industries degrade and misguide Indian women by portraying that their natural complexion needs to be upgraded to a lighter tone. They highlight that fair complexion finds opportunities in all fields— employment, sports, marriage, etc. Many leading Bollywood stars endorse various skin whitening creams and create an unhealthy complex within women about their skin tone. A petition seeking actor Shahrukh Khan to prevent endorsing fairness creams was most debated, last year. The petitioners claimed that the youths get easily influenced by such advertisements when a national icon like Shahrukh Khan endorses it. It is a wonder how a person’s worth is often gauged by one’s skin tone. On the other hand, Nandita Das endorsed a sensible campaign called “Dark is Beautiful” and encouraged people to “Stay UNfair, Stay beautiful!”
In Maharashtra, over 100 tribal girls were trained to be airhostesses and cabin crew under an empowerment program, but most of them were denied jobs apparently because of their dark skin tone. In India where marriages are usually arranged it is really an ordeal for women because looking fair is considered as an important criterion to be eligible for marriage. This social stigma is reflected through the matrimonial advertisements wherein the fair toned brides are in great demand. “Don’t go out in the sun, you will get dark”, is an advice every Indian girl would have heard. The pressure to look fair and beautiful largely falls on women. It directs millions of women to seek skin lightening creams to look ‘fair and lovely’. The Indian fairness cream industry generates an income that crosses 400 million dollars, according to a study. The cosmetic business exploits people’s insecurities. Without any kind of sensitivity, they run irresponsible campaigns to allure new customers. Advertising industries ought to stand up for what is right and must think before propagandizing such discriminatory ideas, because such advertisements can create self-doubt and build low-esteem in people.
The pressure to look ‘beautiful’ is always there, but how to determine what’s beautiful? Beauty resides not in the skin, but rather it is deep within the layers of skin and flesh. What makes an individual beautiful is one’s good temperament manifested through one’s thoughts, words, and deeds. Beauty has nothing to do with one’s complexion or appearance. Dark is beautiful! — About the Author: The article has been contributed by our intern, Nandita Verma.