Unfair and Ugly !!

If one were to do an analysis of Indian television after the liberalisation phase, one striking feature will be the huge influx of fairness creams into our lives. I don’t know why, but I can’t seem to remember any fairness cream ad during the Doordarshan days.

Is it that just after liberalisation happened, people started realising that they need to get fair? Was there a feeling that we need to be fair and ready to face the world? Or did the entire country just become dumb, after eating McDonald’s and drinking Coca Cola?

The earliest one I remember showed Genelia D’ Souza getting rejected for having no talents (the only shred of reality in the ad). She then, looks down dejectedly, and someone suggests she apply Fair and Lovely. She applies it, and lo and behold! She gets a ‘fair’ selection in the commentary box with Krish Shrikkanth. Which is a disturbing thought, considering that Srikkanth is now the Chairman of Selectors, and Virat Kohli applies Fair and Lovely. What message are we giving out to budding cricketers?

For years, we have tolerated outrageous ads that show girls who are rejected, unsuccessful, and untalented, change their fortunes, due to a fairness cream. It’s almost like saying, “Life is not fair, so you have to be.”

There have been fairness creams for girls, for women, for men, and for sportspersons. The ones for men are disguised under names like skin lightening, skin whitening, power whitening, and what not. I suggest some company comes out with a fairness cream for infants as well. Make the child fair from childhood, so that future is secure. And what about bure nazar wale? Why should their mooh be kaala? How about one for them too?

If we are showing girls of today that they need to be fair to be successful, what kind of message are we sending out? As long as there are ads like this, people like Shakti Kapoor will have something to do. Because we are endorsing the idea that good looks is the way forward, that one needs to apply fairness cream to get a job. It’s as if companies mention in the job notification – “Candidates who do not apply, need not apply.”

Then there are the ones that show the girl applying cream and becoming more presentable for the numbskull who has come to choose a bride. In the 30 seconds that the girl has applied the cream, everything about her changes. Her skin, her dressing, the walls of her house seem brighter, even her parents seem to be in a better mood. I am sure in a few days there will be a fairness cream for ‘maximum pleasure’ as well. Apply cream so that your wife looks fair, guaranteed to make you last longer.

It is revolting.

I don’t know who are the douschebags who do research and market surveys for these fairness creams. I am sure it is someone from Arindam Chaudhri’s ashram who dared to think beyond the IIMs. Well, here’s where you went wrong, dickheads:


Since times immemorial, from Draupadi to Chitrangada Singh, Indian men have fantasised about, worshipped, loved, chased, and proposed to dusky women. I am not saying fair girls are not hot, but not all of them are. If only being fair was enough to make someone hot, I’d have a Dolly Bindra wallpaper on my computer. There is nothing as sexy as a wonderful, intelligent, dusky girl. Dusky girls seem more earthy, and sensuous. I somehow have found fair girls to be more finicky about getting tanned in the sun, getting their skin dirty, about pimples, dimples, and crumples. I have always wondered if it was a constant pressure to remain fair. At the same time, I know morons, guys, who apply Fair and Handsome. May be they took the phrase ‘Everything is fair in love and war’ quite literally. It’s sad, because as long as you have men applying skin whitening shit on their faces, there will always be ads that talk about changing your life through fairness lotions.

My problem with the terms is more than just the usages. The problem is with the etymology itself. The word ‘fair’ has stood for “justice”, “nobility” and “good looking”. At the same time, “dark” has stood for the evil, the ignorant and the sinister. With the usage of these words, we are just reinstating what our idiotic ancestors thought of such issues. Our mythology is replete with stories of queens who are cursed by rishis for being too proud of their good looks. And what does the curse entail? That they turn dark and ugly.

While I do not have huge respect for such kind of stories, what is saddening is that our parents and grandparents have all believed that, and enforced it upon us.

If one believes that today’s people have gotten over such beliefs, one has to open a Matrimonial page and have a look. No matter what the religion, caste, educational achievement or income levels, what unifies us as a nation is our obsession with being ‘fair’.

Check this out: Wanted Fair, homely girl for boy, 28. B.Com now running family business. Caste no bar.

The guy is probably some dimwit who completed his graduation and now sits in his father’s sweet shop, but he wants a fair bride for himself! And notice the magnanimity in his search for the perfect girl. She can belong to any caste, but needs to be fair.

Fair is everything in love, obviously.

29 thoughts on “Unfair and Ugly !!

  1. Pingback: My Biwi Sanskari-est | Heartranjan's Blog

  2. sudha kanchi

    Regarding the matrimonial ads…. if the guy wants a fair girl tell the guy to get married to a barbie doll.

    1. sophia ava

      I come across TVM Fair Look as I was looking for some product who can work on pimples on my oily skin with out any adverse side effect on the skin.
      I decided to use TVM fair look as I found it complete ayurvedic solution with no known side effects. I must confess, initially, I was a bit apprehensive but when I used it for a couple of weeks, I get my pimples removed and a visible glow on my face. I would like to recommend
      it for anyone looking to get rid of pimples and in general as well. check this link http://tvmall.in/ to know more about this product

      1. heartranjan Post author

        Really? How nice!

        How about this? Buy lots and lots of TVM Fair Look. I mean, truck loads.

        Then slowly, apply it on your body. Then on the body of your family members. Then on the walls, the corridors, the doors of your house. Then on the streets, your neighbours, the entire community.

        Point I am trying to make? You like in the Dark Ages. May be some Fair Look will draw you out of it!

        And please stop spamming my blog with your stupid comments! I don’t want to have a look at your product. It is fucking stupid. And instead of pimples, you should look for large gaping holes in your brain. It will help humanity in general.

  3. Manish Mishra

    a very valid post. the reasons run deep though. and how could u omit the vaginal whitening creams? when this has come, can penile whitening be far away?

    as far as fairness is concerned, i believe the reason is the dravidian debacle agaisnt the aryans and maybe, just maybe the rule of outsider white races on us for 1000 years.

    and as many people have already pointed out, the whole cosmetics industry survives on making us feel inferior because of who we are.
    “because u are worth it”! who said she wasnt? (in their mind, maybe they picture the consumer looking at her husband/boyfriend and thinking “damn right i am!” and leaving rt away to buy the loreal product).

    and why be restricted to cosmetics, even underwear (mujhse badhkar usme hia kya!!) is sold by making us feel insufficient cos of the brand we wear.

    in conclusion, i believe it all begins when parents weave the story of good boy/girl for their kids. “tum good boy ho, doodh piyo” meaning nahin piya toh u r unwanted , unloved.

    since the need to be liked, fit it, not be left out of the tribe is primitive, almost evolutionary in nature (the rebels were thrown out of the cave for pissing people off, and off went the gene from our gene pools) everything can be sold, including law and order, oppression, religion and yes.. fairness creams creams too… using this.

    do tell me how far do u agree with this theory…

    i like ur blogs and look forward to them now. keep it up.

  4. Neha

    ‘Beauty is skin deep’ has been taken too literally by the companies offering Fairness products. Too much emphasizes on fair skin tone is really demeaning for the dusky girls (like me). No matter how well-read the person might be, the world just seem to end at the skin tone.

    It is really amusing to read the Matrimonial columns, flooded with the demand of Fair, slim girls? Hah!

    It’s time that these companies should come up with the disclaimer ”Your color, whatsoever, is not injurious to your soul”.

  5. Anwesha

    Its not a battle! Of who is is the more ‘sensual’ lot! The point is, why should there even be a battle at all? Its not just fairness, ads promote everything from curves, size zero, perfect hair, what not! The counter argument is not to promote ‘dusky skin’ now, an eye for an eye. It is to NOT ENCOURAGE ANY TYPECAST STEREOTYPICAL OR OTHERWISE FORMAT ?!

  6. Shuti

    Very true…. I remember, Bipasha Basu saying in one interview that she was rejected initially due to her skin tone!…… Very very sad!

  7. Soumya Mukherjee

    Matrimonial profiles are surely a reflection of the obsession with light skin…I wonder why don’t these dumb-asses search for their brides in Europe or US…perhaps they feel Indian women are dumb enough to be their partners.
    This advertisers also do not realize how violent they are and how bluntly they insult a section of the population.

  8. Somyakanta Nanda

    How on earth did people come up with that video!
    Marketing has always been about satisfying a need that people have or identifying a ‘pain point’ (e.g. fevi stick instead of glue for non-messy applications, dandruff shampoos that don’t dry out hair etc.). The advertising/communications show this need/pain point & highlight their brand as a solution. And most people fall for it. hook line and sinker.
    From that perspective, Just analyse the ad.
    What could possibly have led them to make this product? And what do the communications convey? A lot of research goes into making a product. The costs of manufacturing & marketing have to be justified with numbers. Surely, however dumb they may be, they would have identified a certain category to whom they plan to sell their product. Not you. Not me. But some of them out there.
    Call me pervert, but I am trying hard not to let my imaginations run wild. 😛

  9. Nag

    Nice one…………people who use them shud think abt it….. wondering if people just apply those creams for five weeks or so(thats wat the ads claim) then they shud become fairer in a month or so. Which then means the whole business would be down in 2-3months are so….as everyone in the world would be fair….but its not just cosmetics who get away with these false ads…..there are many…..just as an example….some edible oils claim they have all kinds of vitamins and nutrients in them….if it was really true….then the whole of country would be nutrition-balanced and malnutrition would have been wiped out from indias map

    1. heartranjan Post author

      Hahaha. I love your point about the whole business cycle ending in 5 months’ time! And I agree with your point on edible oils and other stuff. It’s sad. Actually, there is an Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) that has been set up to monitor advertisements for exaggeration, and giving out false information. Sadly, not many people bother to approach it about such dumb ads.

      1. RR

        Dude, I happened to read this in ET 2 days ago. The same issue was under discussion (false promises) and ASCI has decided to ban this ads altogether. Especially the vitamins and nutrients one….Though I am not sure when they will get going…..

        lol – Candidates who do not apply, need not apply

  10. rytnowab

    The fair-dark debate at least gets some listeners, and this has been a debated topic. What about those who are mediocre-looking or below, irrespective of their skin color? for the fear of cliche, i won’t abuse the ‘inner beauty’ phrase. And to get to the point, why are women forced to look sensuous/beautiful/attractive, that too under definitions? Cliche again, but read ‘objectification’.

    It may be subtle, but what sums it up is that many who speak against fairness creams were first instigated when the fairness market also targeted men! “Sheesh, why use women’s products/concepts”, some of us thought, deep inside.

    1. heartranjan Post author

      I disagree. The Fair and Lovely ads made me cringe long before they came out with products for men. See, there is a clear difference between the way the ads for men’s fairness creams and women’s fairness creams are made. For me, it is about getting the chick, or being noticed. For women, it is about improving the general condition of life. It’s a subtle, but substantial difference.

      1. rytnowab

        I agree with u, that the ad-makers show, in whichever way, the different ‘apparent’ causes for the two genders to choose a fairness product. But I never said that YOU protested only after the onset of the men’s products – it is evident from your post that it’s otherwise. I was speaking about some men and women I have been conversing with, on this very topic. It is an unmissable trend to me.

        Thank you for helping me phrase it – I reiterate, not just fairness, but (almost?!) any women’s beauty product or idea that can be bought in the market or sold to the mind, is about shaping a woman into another product itself, so she can “improve her general condition of life”.

  11. Priya

    I do not recall Vicco Turmeric ads to be about healthy skin..didn’t the person always end up looking fairer at the end? I recall research done some years back that the largest consumer group for the fair & lovely product (before fair & handsome was launched) were malayalee men – lol. Also did not appreciate the comments on fair girls being finicky etc… but figure if you are going to make a case for one shade, it augers that you need to bring down the other somehow…

    1. heartranjan Post author

      Well, I don’t know about the Vicco ads. They might be selling fairness, but not in the way the others do these days. So I can forgive them that.

      About it being used by men, yes. In fact, Emami found 40% of its products were being used by men, so they started Fair and Handsome.

      About the fair girls being finicky, well, it is a generalisation. And no, I didn’t do it to put down one to make a case for the other. May I add that that is true, at least of the girls I know. So yeah, you are right, it’s not universal.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.