Desi Aunties Skin Color Drama that gives Us Mama’s a Dilemma

 Now many might’ve never faced this or faced this on the daily, aunties bickering and passing rude remarks. Oh you’ve gotten quite healthy (overweight?), stay out of the sun because your skin has darkened (why to lack vitamin d?). Listen up aunties, mama’s and to anyone sitting in the back!
Skin color has to be changed, it’s thought to be an error in many’s mind. Thats true according to the mind of many Indians in South Asia. Things such as “You became very dark”, “Become a little fairer” is common talk among this society, and but ironically that is the most dreadful thing an Indian women can ever hear. Upon hearing such “common talk” women rush to the store to buy the most recognized lightening cream, Fair & Lovely. Fair & Lovely is the Queen of all Lightening Creams. Manufactured and sold in India and most South Asian countries it is a non prescribed beauty product. The product is profiled mostly towards women in the 18-35 year age range. The price is affordable amongst medium class and up and it is found in many nearby corner stores. This product is also sold in little sample sized packets for lower class groups. It is looked as more inexpensive and desired more than other expensive whitening products. “Kavita Kurapati, a 30-year-old Delhi housewife, has been using a fairness cream for almost a year. “The last time I went to my parents’ home, I got compliments on my fair skin from everyone,” she gushes. But most users aren’t so lucky. Nirmala Pandit, a 26-year-old working woman, is a regular user for the past eight years but to no avail. “I should have turned into Snowhite by now but my skin is still the same wheatish colour.” (Sinha, S)” Whether it is preparing for a wedding, being on the media, or social gatherings, women in India are judged upon their beauty as being fair skinned.  Skin lightening creams serve as an important role in expressing hidden sentiments for Indian women. The product provides them with cultural and socially challenged limitations from reaching their full abilities. Skin lightening is the only option towards success or beauty for Indian society (especially women in society), this barren mindset will keep making themselves into victims of society and businesses.
One must be aware that cultural thoughts and stereotypes are merely a way of thinking that has been stemmed for centuries and passed on. The concept of lighter over dark skin has been favored even before and during the British colonized India and its sub continents. When the British took hold of India in 1858 to 1947 stereotypical images of British women being symbolized as Light skinned beauty drifted upon society. The effect fell radically among Indian women who rationalized this by lightening their complexion.The cast system of India was and still is in use as of today. It had to do with being certain type of skin color and look dividing society into sects. The complexion based stereotypes follows up on religion as well. “In a country where even the gods supposedly lament their dark complexion – Krishna sings plaintively, “Radha kyoon gori, main kyoon kala? (Why is Radha so fair when I’m dark?)” – a skin deficient in melanin (the pigment that determines the skin’s brown colour) is an ancient predilection. (Sinha, S “Fair & Growing”) The Hindu mythological tales of light skinned Gods fighting dark skinned devious creatures. Not to mention Lord Shiva teasing Goddess named Parvati for her unattractive color later became known as “Kali Ma”. This name still followed upon her even though Goddess entered a state of heat to become lighter and more brighter. A lot of people in society disagree that this promotes stereotypes. But nevertheless this stereotype is attained in the minds of the readers and passed on for decades. In reality who is to blame but the product market of skin lightening. Even for India’s skin color biased society, religion, and historical background, it seems fair that the skin industry take part in breaking cultural and stereotypical thoughts. The goal of India’s skin industries is to take these thoughts and mend in into the minds of Indian women. Thus, providing Indian women in society with nothing but oppressive hidden sentiments and delusions of true beauty.
If skin industries such as Fair & Lovely keep revealing more inadequate ways to market its goals. Indian women will find it hard to succeed.Culturally and socially this stigma is applied and it might be very hard to break. The very popular themed ad that runs through channels is the unsuccessful girl becoming successful after using Fair & Lovely. This theme is applied in reality when Indian women go to look for jobs. Women are hired as receptionist upon looks and talent in India. Before going into education, professional, character, personality the skin color is something taken into consideration. Indian women in society should change their views and show society as a whole that ones physical appearance is irrelevant to their education or career. Then society wouldn’t take advantage of this stereotype used on women.
Fair & Lovely has some struggles of its own. It has made many consumers unhappy for various reasons. “…Most users aren’t so lucky. Nirmala Pandit, a 26-year-old working woman, is a regular user for the past eight years but to no avail. “I should have turned into Snowhite by now but my skin is still the same wheatish colour. (Sinha, S)” Fair & Lovely may not always show signs of damage to the human eye. It can go as far as disintegrating hope psychologically. In addition skin lightening creams are  also damaging to ones health and physical appearance. Fair & Lovely can also make skin cancer more prone and attracted to UV rays. The product contains a lot of whitening agents which require strong sunscreen when going outside. Thus, whitening agents can attract a lot of UV rays. Unfortunately Fair & Lovely does not relate to any sort of legit sunscreen. According to “Fair & Lovely’s website” it does not mention any dangerous ingredients. Although the company mass produces different types of the product itself and it does not mention anything in big or small print to look out for. Fair & Lovely contains many ingredients which cause cancer and contact dermatitis. Phenoxyethanol, methyl paraben, propyl paraben and the most ingredient in this products is perfume.
India is at the time going through reformation, and has changed a lot of its stereotypes. Actors such as Frieda Pinto has come on screen with what is known as “tanner” skin. Many young generation of Indian women are now recognizing the damaging effects of skin lightening creams. Even “expert verdict doctors” are revealing the truth. “Dr R.K. Pandhi, who heads the department of dermatology at AIIMS in Delhi, declares, “I have never come across a medical study that substantiated such claims. No externally applied cream can change your skin colour. ” (Sinha, S)” While actors, doctors, and former consumers realize this delusion, it will take others in society some catching up to do. “Going by the matrimonial ads in the classified columns of newspapers, it seems fairness is the most important definer of beauty in this wondrous land. With such an attitude firmly entrenched in the minds of millions of people, the fairness products industry will never see dark days. (Sinha, S)” The excessive obsession with defining beauty by skin color is destructive to the very fiber of this population especially the women.Not to mention the concept of human worth based on traditional stereotypes of skin color is one that ultimately deteriorates the value of intrinsic character in Indian society. It isn’t acknowledged exactly how long this stereotype will take to diminish. And if India remains constant on the same traditional stereotypes of skin color, the business of Fair & Lovely would be everlasting.

Reference:

Sinha, S. (2012, November 26). Skin care: Booming sales, multiplying brands, market for fairness products changes colour. Retrieved from https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/economy/story/20001204-skin-care-booming-sales-multiplying-brands-market-for-fairness-products-changes-colour-778754-2000-12-04

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