Friday, August 15, 2008

In all Fairness

Since today marks the 61st anniversary of India's independence ,I find it fitting to write on a phenomenon that has wielded a blow to the self esteem of several Indian women.It is called the fairness cream.While a lot of self-proclaimed intellectuals attribute the success of the fairness cream to a colonial hangover; I like to attribute it to a cunning marketing campaign that exploits an obsession,as old as tradition, to make women feel lousy about themselves.

It is no secret that the average Indian would like to feast his/her eyes on a 'fair' individual.I cannot really define 'fair','wheatish','dark' and the other near-racist terms used in matrimonial advertisements.From the eyes of an artist who regards color as a technicality; 'fair','wheatish' and 'dark' are really different shades of the same color.I've often heard bemused foreigners suggest that all Indians really appear brown irrespective of what matrimonial color scale they belong to.It is something like the phenomenon in Korea where women get cosmetic surgery to have sharper features and folded eyelids. I'd like to quote Oprah Winfrey's opinion on 'sharp featured' Koreans; 'They all look Asian to me!', she said with a sense of the obvious.

All of the above is little consolation to an Indian girl ,on the threshold of womanhood, who is told that she isn't a very eligible bachelorette as her skin isn't of the right shade.Her eyes are glued to the television screen as she watches the fairness cream advertisements that show 'fair' women snagging the all right jobs and the most eligible men.She then buys the pink and white tube(surprisingly all fairness creams irrespective of the brand come in pink and white tubes)with hope in her eyes and a prayer in her heart.Most fairness creams are glorified sunscreens containing a bizarre mix of substances.The girl stares at herself in the mirror every hour waiting for some visible change.The change is barely significant,even after the fourteen day guarantee period. She buys the second tube and the third and the next to gain a sense of fake comfort.The slightly wealthy bachelorette will risk infection, discoloration and unsightly allergies to get her skin whitened using a procedure that uses a deadly mix of lasers and antibiotics.

I resent the fact that the entry sounds as trite as newspaper editorials on India's independence day.I suppose it's because nothing really changes over the years.

1 comment:

Devadutta D Ghat said...

Totally agree.
But, I still cannot understand why/how no one in India has sued these companies and ad-makers. I wonder what the heck organizations which "fight" for the "rights of women" are doing. I guess most of them apply so much makeup themselves to look hide their age that they start thinking that the racist ad-agencies have a point.

If any company aired such a racist ad-campaign in the US, the company would have been sued for all its worth or more! Forget the ads, just the name "Fair and Lovely" which is atrociously racial would have attracted a 100 class action lawsuits.