India’s temptation with the white and fair skin is a gospel truth. Being Indians, we have never liked the idea of being labelled as people of colour. That is racism to us. But over the years, haven’t we invested immense part of our times in trying to figure out ways to turn fairer. Let’s face it, even in 21st Century when people are up in arms for achieving worldwide equality and fair play, India still remains a country obsessed with fair skin. And it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Bollywood being one of the most influential force of the country, has a major share in framing this cultural clichéd beauty standard- be it lyrics of songs, dialogues in films or advertisements for skin-whitening creams.
There is nothing wrong in being fair. But discriminating people just because they are not as white as you are or they are a bit darker than you is totally wrong and unacceptable. Endorsing a fairness cream brand means you are spreading the disturbing message that a person is defined by one’s skin colour and only fair skin is beautiful, to thousands of girls who look upto you. A girl in her teenage already goes through a lot when she questions her appearance and is insecure about her looks and then getting the fake promise that a certain fairness cream will make her beautiful or lighter skinned within a month. This is not the only problem of these advertisements, they depict how darker skinned people have great troubles in terms of employment, marriage prospects and relationships. They not only associate beauty with a lighter skin tone but also with success, confidence and acceptance. And it’s heartbreaking and enraging to know that it has been happening since a long time and we have done nothing to protect it.
Today we are talking about some of the biggest actresses of tinsel town and questioning their choices over endorsing fairness and skin lightening creams in India.
1. Deepika Padukone – Neutrogena Fine Fairness Cream and Garnier Fair Miracle
Undoubtedly one of the most leading actress of Bollywood, Deepika who is all set to make her debut in hollywood, endorses Neutrogena and Garnier fairness creams. Last year, she was starred in a video by filmmaker Homi Adajania to promote women’s empowerment called ‘My Choice’ talking about the choices women make in their life challenging a highly patriarchal society. Its hypocritical to glorify a beauty standard that is a colonial hangover and to be part of such a campaign. Well, even the video faced a lot of backlash saying that the video suggests adultery and that’s not acceptable for any gender.
By endorsing such brands, Deepika has definitely upset her fans who look upto her as a youth icon.
2. Katrina Kaif – Olay Natural White and L’Oreal Paris
In 2013, while promoting Dhoom 3, one reporter asked Katrina that if she is okay with the regressive idea of endorsing fairness creams. She said, “When endorsing a cream I will make sure that it does not claim to improve skin colour or fairness, as it is ridiculous and very wrong. I am not sure if I have done it in the past. But now, there is a lot of awareness on it and I am sure I will not do it henceforth.”
Katrina didn’t stick by her words and in 2015, she went on endorsing fairness cream for L’Oreal Paris. The fact she was aware that the obsession with fair skin reeks of racism and still made a choice to endorse such creams. Talk about double standards.
3. Priyanka Chopra – Ponds white Beauty and Garnier Fairness cream
World wide popular Quantico Star, Priyanka is no far behind these two above stated actresses because she has also been endorsing fairness creams since a long time. Ironically, Priyanka’s empowering roles in movies like “Mary Kom”,” Fashion” have been inspirational for the youth of India. And last year at world leader conference held in Boston she even sent out a global message of bringing women empowerment through education.
She further tweeted and expressed her emotions “Gratified, talking about my favourite subject #GirlPower 2 all the ladies out there… Happy Valentine’s Day. Always remember u are so VALUABLE. Really Priyanka ? Well, it’s seemingly easy to talk about feminism and women empowerment. It takes guts to actually take a stand for it and implement in real life.
4. Yami Gautam – Fair and Lovely
No doubt Yami is making a lot of money from Fair and Lovely endorsements, she has been doing it for a long time now. With great power, comes great responsibility. These actresses need to realise that they are in such an influential positions and it’s definitely not okay for them to promote such ideas. Every cream promises to make fair, but the results of such claims are never tested. All these advertising are demeaning and need to be stopped.
5. Sonam Kapoor – L’Oreal Paris
Sonam Kapoor is one of the most popular and talked about actress among youth. Her fashion sense has captured everybody’ eyes at one point or another. In 2014, when asked about her views on women empowerment, she said – “Women need to be smart about themselves. Nobody is going to empower them. If we want change, we need to be the change. We can’t expect to talk about it and do nothing about it,”. Exactly Sonam !
6. Sonakshi Sinha – Fem Gold Ultra Creme Bleach
Sonakshi Sinha has always been vocal about the socially-relevant issues and specially when it comes to women empowerment. “Be it sports or business or in any other profession, women should be paid an equal amount,” Sonakshi said at Inglot’s Guinness World Record event. Her recent movie Akira was also supposedly about women empowerment. Well, actions does speak louder than words. And it has been proved in Sona’s situation as well. Spreading a message to literally bleach your face to get a lighter skin tone ! Not cool..
These are not the only actresses who endorses such fairness products. There is Diya Mirza, Kareena Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai and many other who everyday choose money over social responsibility. Now even male Bollywood stars are endorsing whitening products. All this needs to stop and it needs to stop right now! Already these advertisements have done a lot of damage over the years, it’s high time to break all the stereotypes and cliches of what beauty stands for. Everyone is beautiful in their own skin. You don’t need to be fairer to be confident or successful. You are much more than a skin color.