Have we ever given a thought to the fact that dark complexion is most natural to a huge majority of our population and there is nothing to be ashamed about it?
IF you are a woman you ought to be fair. Or else… No male will give you a second look, no girl will be jealous of you. The perils are too many. So goes the message of at least 10 products, whose advertisements support 90 per cent of programmes on TV.
This insinuation is not suggestive or sexist. It is worse. It is utterly racist and no one seems to be protesting. One will have to invite Mandela (Nelson) to the Gandhi country to fight apartheid.
There is the good old Fair and Lovely, the Fairglow, the Himani cream and so on. Have we looked around us? Have we ever given a thought to the fact that dark complexion is most natural to a huge majority of our population and there is nothing to be ashamed about it?
Call it colonial hangover or a newfound fad for beauty in white skin. The advertisements are downright offensive. And here we go removing ads that are only “suggestive”. The whiteness creams don'thide or insinuate. They state it. Look at this ad, for instance. A girl sings beautifully, she has even a few students. But the guy next door is not noticing because, you guessed it right. She is dark. In six weeks, lo and behold, he is desperately waving to get her attention.
There is another one. One girl stays back when all her friends and sisters go for a party. Why have you not gone, the mother asks. With this skin? The dark-coloured daughter asks. And the magic again, she is included in the party circle.
All the ads have the same punch line. Enjoy the fair skin and hide the agony of dark skin. All in a mere few weeks. The not so suggestive advertisement messages leave behind indelible impression on the minds of all, especially children, who are the most avid watchers of advertisements. Several children think it infra dig to be black (please read dark). I could not believe my ears when one day my son came home and told me that his pencil had gone missing and he thinks it is that ?kali? girl who must have stolen it. “She must be bad because she is black”, he said. That'swhen I decided to pick up the sword and fight the ads. In my own little way.
There are a lot of objectionable things about several ads. Most of them are sexist. They put women in stereotype roles. They use women'sbody as a commercial proposition. But the fairness creams condemn a whole race to dust, a huge part of humanity, a majority of our women, millions and nobody seems to be bothered. The promise of new life with new skin is reinforced by the countless TV serials. I have seen at least 25 serials. I am yet to come across one person who is dark, whether it is Tamil, Telugu or Marathi. And it is these very soaps that are supported by the fairness cream. It is difficult to miss the connection.
There is an ad council, which is supposed to monitor offending ads. What are they doing? The I & B ministry has banned direct and surrogate liquor and tobacco ads. But the cosmetic industry is more powerful. It builds the ?pride? of India, though district-level beauty contests. Liquor and tobacco are only injurious to health. But the fairness-mania is destructive to the mind.
Beauty has become a business. It is acceptable in a globalised world. But should that be at the cost of destroying self-confidence and self-pride of a race? Should these ads, which glorify fair skin be allowed to go on? I am sure the answer is a loud no.