Ever thought had the Britishers or whites not ruled on us, but, we had ruled on them, would white/ fair skin still be considered superior and beautiful in colonized nations like India?
India has for long been under the influence of the Britishers, be it the language superiority, cultural transformation or the continuous striving of being like ‘the civilized them’; Indians have looked up to them and built taboos alongside breaking the progressive cultural norms of the Indian society and shackling into a narrow mindset.
Just like the law against LGBTQ was made in the colonized India and considered to be a normal scenario in the pre-British era, skin color based business and inferiority/ superiority complex was also adopted by the Indians with the coming of the Britishers and their White Mission. The beauty industry and natural beauty tips have since then been a lot about HOW TO BECOME FAIR?
British India And The White Mission
The very reference of India for Britishers was ‘The Non- White Colony.’
Although controversy prevails of the fair Aryans and dark Dravadians yet the racial difference was never a reason for being divided. With the Britishers; for the first time, a clan had come from the outside with such a vivid plan to loot and to stay put in the country. India has always been a land of scholars, thus only cultural differences could not help the Britishers build a base for themselves in the minds of the people. They had to make Indians believe that they were here for a mission of their betterment, this was only possible by making them feel inferior about the attributes and characteristics of the Indian society and genetic shaping. SKIN COLOR was one of the characteristics the Britishers smoothly sailed on to build inferiority amongst Indians.
This was carried on and fed upon for creating differences and complexes until the beginning of the 21st century in India.
The FIRST FAIRNESS CREAM was introduced in 1919’s called AFGHAN SNOW. The obsession for white and fair skin prevailed in the Asian markets for long, this fairness cream was also endorsed by an actress at the first Miss India Concert in 1952 sponsored by Afghan Snow.
India saw the uprising of the fairness cream market in 1975 when HUL launched Fair & Lovely. Just the launch wasn’t enough to serve the already prevailing fair is the beautiful mindset of the people. Soon with the coming of the 1980s, when television was a common sight across India, advertisements portraying fair skin being more receptive to success in life, healthy marriage, and finding a good groom were broadcasted and aired during prime time further shaping and strengthening the concept.
Many other products followed Emami’s Naturally Fair Herbal Fairness Cream, Godrej’s Fair Glow, Fairever, etc, positioning themselves with taglines such as ‘For Flawless Fair Skin’, ‘No Compromises With Fairness’, Gori Gori Fem-Fem se, etc.
“I was told as a teen by my parents, use this cream maybe your color will lighten and it will be easier to marry you too,” says Nidhi, an Indian now settled in Las Vegas.
The 2000’s- Era Of Change
Today, a global Icon Priyanka Chopra was crowned Miss World in the year 2000, she became an inspiration for many as ‘fair is beautiful’ was started to being recognized as a myth. Priyanka Chopra regardless of her skin shade stood put at the platform, winning the Miss World title and proving to many Indians that all shades are beautiful.
In 2005, a whole set of television series was produced and aired on the hardships a dark skin girl faces in the Indian society to bring to light the mental stress a dark skin girl goes through due to the narrow minds of the society. The series was a big hit ‘Saat Phere: Saloni Ka Safar’ and ran on for approximately 4 years.
“I remember my mother scolding the photographer who was clicking my pictures to send to a potential groom- Don’t lighten her skin tone, my daughter is of a darker shade and that isn’t a problem for me or her”- Indian residing in New Delhi
In 2009, the Women Of Worth an NGO based out of Chennai, initiated a campaign ‘Dark is beautiful’ further being endorsed by actor Nandita Das ‘Stay Unfair, Stay Beautiful’. In 2014, The Advertising Standard Council Of India also issued guidelines, prohibiting to depict dark skin as a disadvantage in society.
The Advent of social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc, globalized the population of India, ensuring that they discover and broaden their mindset regarding color shade variation across the world. Popular celebrities like SRK, Deepika Padukone, Virat Kohli, and many others who had endorsed the fairness products in the Indian market were being downed on social media platforms for promoting fairness creams and bleaches.
The Makeup Revolution
In 2012, many makeup artists took to youtube and Instagram promoting makeup especially evening makeup, that was contrary to the belief of Indians. HOW TO DO MAKEUP FOR DARK SKIN TONE!
Makeup in India even in the 2000s is seen as a means for becoming fair. “It is a mindset of the people that fair is pretty, and they want makeup artists to make the shades lighter, I always tell my clients to enhance their features through makeup instead of going for fairness,” says Muskan Malhotra a makeup artist of the beauty industry in India.
Many brands introduced and launched makeup and evening makeup products that would match with the shades of brown and black skin tones too. Rihanna’s Fenty Make Up line is a revolution in the beauty industry, as it is all about the inclusivity of all shades in makeup. Huda Beauty Makeup is also promoting makeup products for all skin types and shades globally.
Digitalization has brought a lot of changes in the beauty industry as now, natural beauty tips are also about enhancing the skin health and skin glow instead of providing tips about getting fair.
Effects On Indian Women Due to Color Discrimination For Decades
Decades of color discrimination has affected the Indian women and men alike.
- A psychological mind-frame that fair is lovely and dark is ugly leads to under-confidence in many women.
- The belief that as they are dark they can’t make a career in glamour and film industry.
- Looking up to fairer women and men and idolizing them and their actions.
- Preference to appearance instead of talent
- Growing with the mindset of compromising in every situation due to skin color (finding a groom, job, etc)
- Societal and peer pressure of continuously striving to look good.
- Depression and mental stress leading to staying away from society get together’s.
Vinayaka Goyal now in her 20’s, a resident of Uttar Pradesh, recalls “I wasn’t fair and I used to love swimming during my pre-teens. This made me tan, during one of the occasions a family member in a very condescending tone snapped and commented- No! what are you saying Vinayaka is not as fair as her, how can you even compare her to her aunt?” she further added, “It was so hurtful that I haven’t taken a swim since then.”
I Knock Fashion Desk
Super Model Padma Lakshmi called out to Fair & Lovely commenting ” For Years I Have Been Saying That Fair & Lovely Needs To Pack Their Fake Cosmetics Go!”
The world is changing and embracing every skin tone and color. Fair & Lovely, dropping Fair out of the cream’s name is yet another example of the changing mindset of the people. It is time to bring a collective revolution and promote inclusivity ripping of concepts like skin color discrimination, body shaming, etc. With all rising and supporting campaigns such as #blacklivesmatter, #darkisbeautiful we are sure to see a new culture in the beauty industry and makeup industry.
I Knock Fashion is doing its bit to support inclusivity in every sphere of fashion beauty by providing news, information, natural beauty tips, and evening makeup tips for all skin types. STAND UP TO DO YOURS!