Racism is so built in all of us today that even when the comments are passed right under our nose, we fail to notice it. The recent racist and xenophobic attacks on African students in Noida and the remarks made by former Parliament member Tarun Vijay stirred up a storm on social media. Twitteratti strongly condemned the statements, sparking off a discourse about the inherent racism in the Indian society.
What is the root of all of this? Well, it is our obsession with the colour of skin. The thought that fairer is better still prevails among many of us. Why would we invest in fairness creams otherwise? Actor Abhay Deol hit the bull’s eye when he took to his Facebook page to pull up all the A-listers of Bollywood for endorsing fairness creams. He openly slammed many Bollywood celebrities who have endorsed fairness creams in the past. He urged stars to leverage their celebrity status to make a difference rather than influencing people into believing that only fair skin is beautiful. Previously, Nandita Das championed the cause of ‘Dark is Beautiful’.
While the series of his posts are more of a slap on the face for fans of these stars, the film industry is not all populated with such names who are splashed on the pages of the magazines and endorse fairness creams. The outspoken Queen of Bollywood, Kangana Ranaut surely did not regret turning down a lucrative offer from one such company. Reacting to rumours that she was offered Rs 2 crore for endorsing a fairness cream, the feisty actress had said, “Ever since I was a kid, I have never understood the concept of fairness. Especially, in such a case, as a celebrity, what kind of an example would I be setting for younger people? I have no regrets about turning this offer down. As a public figure, I have responsibilities”.
Randeep Hooda also refused to be the face of a brand that profited out of India’s obsession with the skin colour. He had stated that he did not want to set a bad example, and was completely with turning down the deal. Swara Bhaskar was approached by a skin care brand in 2015, asking her to endorse a skin lightening product. The ‘Anaarkali of Aarah’ star declined the deal which promised big bucks, by saying, “This fair skin obsession has to be discouraged. It’s so regressive and problematic to put a value, negative or positive to skin colour. It’s actually the seeds of racism and it only promotes low self-esteem. For me, I believe in loving yourself just the way you are. Dusky, dark or wheatish, you are perfect, all I want to tell the girls is don’t change.”
In an online discussion for International Women’s Day, Kalki Koechlin offered what she thought of fairness products in the Indian beauty market. She said, “I don’t think there is anything wrong with being fair, but it has become such an obsession in our country that it is all we look for in beauty. There are so many stunning people who are dark-skinned and it should be celebrated. I would love to have a product that makes me darker”. She further added, “I endorse an anti-ageing cream because I do feel I have to take better care of my skin with age, but I am clear fairness is not something I promote with them, I would love to endorse a cream which makes me darker, I am always trying to get a tan.”
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