India’s obsession with fair skin is an age old attraction. Here is India, where 70% of Indians are dark skinned, women suffer in silence dealing with the cruel society. A movement called Dark is Beautiful in India is promoting the beauty of all skin colors is pushing back against the country’s obsession with fair skin.
The desire in India for lighter skin is fueled by a widespread belief that dark-skin is ugly and inferior. Fair skin is perceived to be an essential element of self-confidence, success, and a key to happiness.
Women of Worth (WOW) a non-governmental organization based in the southern city of Chennai promoted a campaign called “Dark is Beautiful” to counter deeply held cultural perceptions on race and beauty.
The campaign was initially launched in 2009. It gained popularity in the year 2013 after Bollywood actress Nandita Das backed the campaign with advertisements that called on every Indian to “Stay Unfair, Stay Beautiful”.
Influence of advertisements
brands have been quick to tap into this fervor, selling creams, lotions, soaps, cosmetics, promising skin-bleaching. An array of leading Bollywood stars endorse various skin whitening creams often send regressive messages that end up promoting prejudice around skin color and looks.
The Indian fairness cream market generates revenue of more than $400m and has been growing by 20 percent annually, more than the sale of Coca-Cola and tea in India, according to The Atlantic magazine and Bloomberg.
“The glorification of the fair skin has been there in our films for long, long time. But it only reflects the bias of the society,” Das said.
The campaign is being promoted actively across social media and has caught the eye of mainstream.