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By refusing to promote a fairness cream, Sai Pallavi has set an example for other celebrities. Her unwillingness to use or promote such products makes her a great role-model for the many women shamed for having dark skin.
In a tropical climate like India, dark skin is an evolutionary advantage. The naturally higher amounts of melanin in dark skin absorb UV rays and reduce the negative effects of the same. In our society however, dark skin is regarded as a disadvantage. The marriage market demands ‘fair skinned’ brides, and the narrative that dark is ugly is pushed even on impressionable children.
Needless to say that this obsession with fairness, be it because of internalized racism or international beauty standards skewed towards ‘whiteness’, has led to an ever increasing demand for skin-lightening creams and other similar products. Even though these products are usually ineffective and often contain harmful ingredients.
The estimated worth of the fairness cream industry in India is $450 million. This booming industry often enlists popular movie stars and celebrities like Sonam Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Priety Zinta, Deepika Padukone, Shahrukh Khan and others in peddling these creams by paying them big bucks. A couple of years ago, actor Abhay Deol had garnered praise for calling out celebrities who had endorsed such products. He had also praised celebrities like Nandita Das, Kangana Ranaut, Ranbir Kapoor and Randeep Hooda for going against this trend.
The latest actor to refuse to endorse fairness creams is actor Sai Pallavi, who first won hearts for her performance in the hugely popular Malayalam movie, Premam. Considering that people in the south of India are widely considered to be more dark skinned and are often mocked for it, Sai Pallavi’s refusal to endorse the product, for which she was reportedly being offered Rs 2 crores, is a huge step.
In fact, Sai Pallavi wears little to no makeup on screen, and has never shied away from showing her natural skin, acne and all. Her popularity, in spite of this, is testimony to the fact that talent and hard work are much more important than conforming to arbitrary beauty standards.
As a ‘fair skinned’ South Indian woman who has seen loved ones try and discard one skin lightening product after another; as someone who is hyper aware of the advantages that my lighter skin tone offers me; and as someone who has been witness to brilliant and talented women putting themselves down because of their insecurity about their skin colour, I cannot help but cheer for Sai Pallavi and her confidence in herself.
May the tribe of such women, who are confident in their natural skin increase!
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