Fair But Never lovely

Have you been stepping out in the sun without applying proper sunscreen? Look how dark your skin tone has become this summer! Have you tried applying a paste of turmeric and curd? How about some raw milk to brighten the skin? Pastel coloured clothes and bright lipsticks don’t suit your skin tone? Try some brightening creams or you wont get married.

 These are some of the common affirmations and remarks brown or dark skinned girls have been hearing since the day they were born. 

Who is responsible?

India’s obsession with fairer skin finds its roots in cinema and Bollywood worshipping mindsets of people who are wrongly misled by the prejudiced film community. Bollywood has for long been the culprit for persuading young women and girls into believing that they are flawed and ugly if they don’t have fairer skin, in fact, what they see on screen is the epitome of perfection and beauty. Thats what actual beauty is. Dark-skinned  people are stereotyped as the antagonists or the sidekicks of the heroes who are in fact will be desired by any.  is what actual beauty is. Print media and television advertisements for skin brightening creams and treatments are not a new phenomenon in the country. Every two out of three advertisements is about a skin-brightening product. A girl with dark-skin who has low esteem, transforms into a confident women after she uses the endorsed product. 

Why do people still buy these products?

The reason as to why the markets are flooded with such products is because the brands use famous actors as their USP (Unique Selling Price) so as to attract buyers into buying their products. With popular celebrities these days consenting to be brand ambassadors for skin-lightening products, the emergence of the female crowd as blind followers believing the product to be worthy and result-oriented has increased tenfold.  


Stereotypes related to skin colour in India

Opening the matrimonial pages of any mainstream newspaper you will see the cultural fixation that people who looking for brides have with fair girls. It’s not just women who are under the radar to be fair, men have been discriminated against equally on the grounds of their skin colour which has lead to the introduction of men’s fairness products by the same brands. The words fair and lovely or fair and handsome are often paired up together like they are one and the same. 

The Indian obsession with fairer skin is very noticeable considering how even today in this generation, marriage proposals are turned down if the girl’s skin tone is on the darker side. Neighbourhood ladies and parlour owners suggest home remedies and popular treatments to get fair skin is something that has been experienced by nine out of ten women in the country. There have been various incidents where dark-skinned people are often being mistaken for janitors or helping staff at supermarkets. 

The harsh truth behind these products

As the stereotype for fair skin runs deep in our veins, India has come to be known as one of the most racist countries of the world. For many years and more to come, cultural superiority and ethnocentrism has always been linked to fair and pale skin tones which win turn has paved the way for discrimination amongst people. 

The fairness creams that make one oh so bright contain harsh chemicals which have been proved to be very harmful for the user and for the Indian skin in general. The products are loaded with bleaching agents, chemicals like hydroquinone, steroid-based skin lighteners are being sold in most parts of the country.Some creams contain an active ingredient - Mercury which is a very detrimental to health as bleaching can lead to mercury poisoning which can further cause neurological and kidney problems.  Young girls these days are often attracted to short-term  and immediate results of the products and do not take into consideration the long-term harm that is being inflicted onto their skin.The beauty and cosmetic industry is well known for capitalising and making profit out of people’s insecurities and flaws. It targets a person’s self-esteem and they tend to question their abilities. 

The sad truth

It is really sad to think about how normalised skin-colour discrimination has become in today’s world. The fairness creams advertisements, mentioned above, are broadcasted regularly on national television, and barely anybody sees a problem in them. In fact, these beauty products tend to do very well in the market, as they are now made for every age group young, adult or old. Even in the case of marriages, a person’s skin-tone often becomes a key determinant of how “good” a match they will get these days. Its like their qualities don’t matter, only their skin tone does.


Beauty, it seems, has become one with bright and light skin-tone. But we know there’s much more to it than that, there has to be because this shortcoming is only created by people and the society we live in. All one has to do is carry themselves with that utmost confidence.