By Sehar E. Tarar
Fair, white and light, a requirement for almost everything in life (as so wrongly portrayed by the fairness cream ads). But nobody really pauses and observes anything wrong with this, right? To most people it’s just a simple ad promoting a product just like another candy ad. Well, there is something really disturbing with this whole must-be-fair-to-win mentality and due to this beauty notion, companies have put their products in the market for decades and lured money out of thousands of pockets of customers who want a lighter skin shade. Why? What is the obsession with being fair skinned?
People like you and me have grown up in a society where tanned is looked down upon and fairness is a first-rated beauty standard for all the wrong reasons. There’s been an ongoing debate about banning fairness products and ads promoting them. Firstly because they don’t work in 7 days, not even 15 days. The promises made by these ads are blatant lies. Think about it, how a cream can reverse the effects of thousands years of evolution and ultraviolet light exposure in this phenomenally short time period. Doesn’t make any sense. Also, these advertisements never speak about the biochemical side effects of their product. A fairness product is not all flowers and roses, it contains chemicals that act on melanin, the natural pigment in your body that determines your skin color. Darker people tend to have more melanin than lighter ones. Reducing the amount of melanin is linked to skin cancer and with an increased risk of malignant melanoma, a cancer of melanocytes (melanin cells).
Furthermore, a typical fairness cream ad shows a girl who is unable to get a job, or can’t marry off well because she’s not fair enough. Then she gets her hands on a fairness product and -boom, the next thing you know is that she’s soaring through the stock market. These ads are a height-of-creative-low. I’m not even sorry to break it to you but your skin color doesn’t go up on your resume. Being black didn’t stop Beyonce from selling out Wembley Stadium. The fairness cream ads latently project the idea of cleansing the dark-toned population. This births low-self esteem for dark people and racism against them. What these ads and products say under the guise of beauty is that a tanned woman is inferior to a white woman because she doesn’t have the ‘right’ skin color, so she should use our product to be like her. Discrimination based on skin color is a diseased problem. Research has found extensive evidence of discrimination based on skin color in criminal justice, business, the economy, housing, health care, media, and politics in the United States and Europe. Racist hate crimes have tripled since 2017 and fairness products ads may unintentionally, to some extent, add to the mentality causing this problem.
Fairness creams have had their fair share of criticism. But an entire industry cannot just shut down so easily. What actually need to change are the social norms concerning skin color. Every human being is so much more than the unimportant things that society cages them into; skin color being one of them. And it is about time we broke this cage.