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Coffee Breaks With ISLM: Whitewashing Women!


Whitewashing of Women in Advertisements

Guest Post By: Priyanka

Ever looked at that fairness cream advertisement on the front page of your newspaper and wondered who the hell the Caucasian looking woman is? From previous experience, I can say that it would be some Indian woman along the lines of Deepika Padukone, Asin or even Priyanka Chopra!
The mainstream ad world never hesitates to white wash women till they are almost unrecognisable. In fact, why limit ourselves to advertisements? Atleast I can understand the concept of lightening a dusky woman’s skin tone for a fairness product advertisement, but what about magazine covers or even advertisements for lipsticks and hair colour? What is the point of this white washing? To propagate this silly notion that fair is lovely and dusky is not? I would certainly think so!

We live in a society where the media controls our perception of beauty and tries to shape our personality from a very young age. As a society we have collectively become attracted to a certain kind of beauty that the media has taken control of. The whole inane concept is that as long you are lighter skinned, you are more beautiful and if you are any darker than the societal standard your beauty is worthless. Ever seen those repulsive Fair and Lovely ads that show a dark skinned girl with no self confidence who then use the fairness cream and miraculously become more successful in life? 

I have and it always leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. How can the I&B Ministry allow such blatantly colourist advertisements? How are there no regulations in place against this grievously harmful ads? 
I am certainly not saying that all sections of society are endorsing this inanity but a vast majority certainly are. The ever rising sales figures of fairness creams just proves my point. The fact that Bollywood big weights like Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone endorse various fairness creams also does.  
Nandita Das endorses this beautiful campaign called “Dark is Beautiful”, while I feel that any sort of sectionalising, even reverse colourism, is harmful to our society in its totality this campaign is a giant step in the right direction. This campaign has found supporters in numerous actors like Bipasha Basu, Priyanka Chopra and Freida Pinto who have previously pointed out how airbrushed and fair their ad and magazine images have looked.  Freida Pinto has even gone a step further and put the “Indian obsession with fair skin” on the world radar.
To conclude, I would like to say that obsession with fair skin isn’t always an Indian obsession, even Western media with their racist behaviour have been very “unfair” to performers like Beyonce, Kelly Roland or even Aishwariya Rai. The pictures in this article just illustrate my point even further!


  1. It's a disgrace that people still fall for this! Indian skintone is beautiful- dusky and earthy, I don't know why the industry does not celebrate it :/


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