Satire in the Age of Letters and Technology- more than just a pinch of it.
By Shivani Khare
I don’t know why Fair and Lovely, a product of Hindustan Unilever and the highest selling fairness cream brand in the country, even bothers with that name and the gazillion commercials, for in India, Fair IS lovely. It’s a trend which is fast turning into an obsession.
The market for fairness creams equals approximately Rs. 800 crores. Surprised?! I wonder why. Have you not taken a look recently at the matrimonial section of the newspaper or even at the billboards and hoardings around you? Everybody wants a fair skinned spouse, or if commercials are to be believed, a fair skinned employee. Oh yes, now the obsession for fair skin isn’t even gender restrictive; it’s caught up on the men too! Progress, I must say.
Since times immemorial, Indians have attached a special significance to skin colour. The caste system is essentially based on colour, with the fair ones being at the top of the order and so on. We can all see how well that has worked out but now that we have ‘evolved’ we have started attributing colour to class distinctions. This is prominently visible in the movie industry, any character that has to be rich, successful, famous or desirable in any way whatsoever has to be fair whereas anybody in any derogatory position is typically of a darker skin tone.
The main ingredient in these magical potions is bleach which explains how people turn fair and it is this which causes most of the harm. In the long run constant usage leads to skin deterioration causing it to become thin, photosensitive and acne prone. In the mad rush to become fair, all this is overlooked. You may turn fair but you’ll certainly be paying a hefty price.
Are we today living in a world where it’s only the superficial that matters, where nobody has the time to look deeper within, is beauty truly only skin deep? I have heard people passing comments like “He’s quite handsome even though he’s dark”, now how is someone’s skin colour a reflection on the kind of person they really are, how intelligent and competent they may be or how sensitive and humane they are…or have these things just stopped mattering ?
Another bewildering trend is how celebrities who have dusky skin tones and are very successful and hold influential positions choose to endorse these fairness creams. It sends out a very warped message.
An interesting fact is that it’s scientifically proven that dark skin is less vulnerable to diseases than light skin. When a couple, where one partner has dark skin and one has light skin, has a child, usually the child inherits the dark skin. Nature just makes the better choice.
Another common defense that people adopt is “What can I do if these creams are being manufactured”. Well, for one you can stop buying the product! The only reason it’s marketed is because people like us buy it, the day we decide to say no, it would automatically stop. Even after knowing all these facts, well educated people disregard this knowledge when the time comes to making a choice between purchasing these products or not. Despite everything this industry has a firm foothold in the market.
The desire to be fair overcomes all boundaries of income strata and gender. It seems unlikely to disappear anytime soon even as India marches towards modernity. This trend is here to stay, and that is the unfortunate bit.