The White Battle- How Fair is your Skin Tone?

The White Battle- How Fair is your Skin Tone?

Fair Game?

According to statistics, Indians raving for unabashedly white skins have triggered the already booming growth of cosmetic market which touches an unprecedented record high in its demand each year. But is everything fair in your fairness products?

Glutathione, the whitening agent used in fairness creams is actually a chemo drug meant to help cancer patients cope with the chemo toxicity and skin lightening is one of its many side effects. Ousting its original use a cancer drug it is far more popular as a skin lightening agent (No wonder!). The steroids used to tone down the skin increase the risks of skin infections, acne, hyper -pigmentation and slow wound healing.

Why White?

White, associated with cultural and racial superiority of our colonial masters against the savage bestiality of our ancestors, today provides a great deal of opportunities like better marriage prospects for brides and grooms alike and is a mandatory pre- requisite in many cases (If surprised, which isn’t likely, Look up the matrimonial section in your newspapers), helps one land with jobs in aviation sector ( Remember those are-you-the-cover-girl-for-Vogue type Air Hostesses?) and of course, with the ever growing purely magical cinema. Even without all the economic value attached to this whiteness myth, it helps one fit in better, socially. The real travesty is that this sort of internalized racism goes unquestioned in most cases and seems totally normative (Many thanks to the racist advertising and my Grandma’s sermons!).

Responsible advertising?

Bollywood damsels, ranging from Padmini Kohalapure to Juhi Chawla to the present day divas, have unthinkingly been promoting these deeply rooted racist biases through their fairness products’ advertisements. King Khan, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and likes of them who are supposed to be more educated and responsible as celebrated icons of masses, have been propagating the racial attitudes (For big bucks, of course!) instead of setting examples (Like Kangana Ranaut, Randeep Hooda and some others who turned down big advertising offers in wake of their social responsibilities ) for common people to do away with the deeply entrenched racial perceptions. These promising fairness creams, along with the various health hazards, capitalize on one’s low self esteem and end up lowering it further.

After all these years of independence from the British rulers, I think it’s high time we got rid of their self- created ideas of superiority of white over any other race or color (Notice the spelling *wink*) and do everything humanly possible to stop this bourgeoning burden of having peerless, immaculate skin because #AllThatIsWhiteIsNotBeautiful. Remember Nandita Das’s “Stay unfair, Stay beautiful”? So the next time someone suggests a fairness product to tone down that gorgeous tan, don’t forget to quote Nandita Das.

By- Pratibha Dahiya
Pursuing- English Honors, Lady Shriram College for Women


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