Skin Whiteners Label Racist In Asia
September 10, 2009 Leave a comment
Cosmetic advertisements in Asia are targeting men with blunt campaigns aimed at skin color that one lawmaker labels racist.
In one TV commercial, two men, one with dark skin, the other with light skin; stand on a balcony overlooking a neighborhood. The dark skin guy turns to his friend and says in Hindi, “I am unlucky because of my face.” His light skin friend replies, “Not because of your face, because of the color of your face.”
Suddenly the light skin guy throws his friend a cream. It’s a whitening cream.
It is one of several television commercials aimed at men in Pakistan and India. In the end the darker skin actor is shown several shades lighter and he gets the girl he was after. Most of the ads end up that way.
The commercials are sending a not-so-subtle message to men in Asia: Get whiter skin, and you’ll get the girl and the job of your dreams. Or at the very least you’ll be noticed.
“We always have a complex towards a white skin, towards foreign skin or foreign hair,” Jawed Habib says.
Habib should know. He owns a chain of 140 salons located in India and across the world. “We Indian people, we Asian people are more darker, so we want to look more fair.”
But in a country where most people have brown skin, the message being sent to men and women has some people outraged.
“Basically if you need a job you have to have white skin. If you want a good partner, a companion you need white skin and you always seem to get it once you’ve used the fairness cream. Basically I think it’s completely racist and highly objectionable,” says Brinda Karat.
Karat is a member of India’s Parliament who has made formal complaints about the advertisements to Indian authorities. She says the ads are simply playing on a social stigma that already exists in India
Arranged marriages are still commonplace in India, and the advertisements for brides and grooms often list physical attributes of the person being sought. Many of the ads list “fair” as one of the wanted physical characteristics.
“I mean at a time when we’re talking about talents and skills, and the need for the accessibility to that to develop our potential; what does it do to dark persons’ self esteem?” Karat says. “I think it should be stopped.”