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Is being fair and lovely ‘perfect’? if not, what is? Here’s an interesting take on the fairness syndrome.
You know what Fair and Lovely and politics have in common? Neither is fair nor lovely.
Usually a Fair and Lovely (let’s call it FnL for ease) ad has two variations, one – she can’t get into some job or audition until she uses the cream, and second – she can’t get the guy to look at her because of how dark she is. These pretty much sum up all the ideas of FnL’s creative team, and I’m quite used to seeing and critiquing the latest variation they come up with.
The new FnL ad is no different. Once again, FnL’s creative team is so marvellous that, in less than thirty seconds, it manages not only to link skin color with ability but also with every girl’s biggest insecurity- marriage.
How? Well it starts with a father-daughter duo in a park, talking about the girl’s marriage to a man who is able and earns well; the woman is visibly conflicted. Back at home, she tells her ‘fairer’, hence wiser friend about her decision to listen to her dad and marry the guy. To this, her wise friend hands her a tube of Fair and Lovely cream (she carries a new tube in her purse) and tells her other ‘darker’ friends to get ready.
The ‘darker’ friend then reflects for a minute, all the while washing her face, and comes back to dad, 7 shades fairer and decidedly wiser and tells him she’ll marry the guy in three years ( so that she can get a job, a house and a bank balance and be equal to the guy so she can marry him). End of ad.
I left out nothing nor added anything. If you thought that was torture to read, think of the millions of girls who are likely to believe this ad and equate skin color to ability. There is nothing more to add, to be honest. It’s my daily dose of practiced writing. However, those of you who do end up reading this (and aren’t Caucasian) try getting fairer for a day, and see if people treat you differently. They will.
If you’re fairer, you’re nicer, more able, and of course, more deserving.
I’ve seen it in my own life and continue to see it wherever I go. If you’re fairer, you’re nicer, more able, and of course, more deserving. But you know why FnL ads don’t bother me? Because somewhere down the line, they help someone feel good about themselves because it’s not the ad, not the brand, not the cream that are responsible for this mentality. They never were. They reflect the society we live in.
We perpetuate these cycles (fair, young, skinny) and then people sell to other people what they think they want. I could blame the companies for putting up ads as shallow as these, but I won’t. I will, instead, let the ads run, smoothly and happily, till the day we stop perpetuating these ads and stereotypes. Of course, a lot of you will have a mouthful to say to me, and will tell me how these multinational, rich, greedy companies are exploiting people, and I’ll just smile and wonder why you talk so much.
I’m not fair, and I never needed my TV to tell me that. My TV provided a way out for me and a way to make me feel better about myself, and then, almost instantly, when I found joy in my TV, you told me I’m perfect the way I am.
When we didn’t have FnL, no one thought to remind our young girls that ‘fair’ is not the only definition of beautiful. But when FnL exists now we tell them it isn’t. When we didn’t have anti ageing, we forgot to tell our mothers how pretty they are, now that we do have anti ageing, we tell then that they are perfect.
We’ve only told our mothers, daughter, sisters how perfect they are when they discovered their flaws, but by then it’s too late, for they believe themselves and their flaws before they believe you. And why not? They knew their flaws before they even knew their strengths.
So, today remind your mums and daughters and sisters how perfect they are and that their ‘flaws’ merely make them human. That being ‘dark’ or ‘fair’ or ‘skinny’ or ‘fat’ doesn’t define them.
Only they define themselves and always will.
The Obsession With Fair Skinned Women
Unfair and Lovely
Our Fixation With Fairness: Not-So-Lovely
The Misogynist’s Formula For The ‘Perfect Indian Bride’
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