Are fairness creams racist?

Youngsters call out unethical ads, but say the disease is a deeper bias.

By Author   |   Published: 10th Jan 2017   11:18 pm Updated: 10th Jan 2017   10:38 pm

A campaign against fairness creams started by the news channel NDTV is gaining ground, with many coming out in support of it on social media. The hashtag #FairnessCreamRacist has been trending on twitter and discussions are gaining momentum on the question-answer forum Quora as well.

While the channel claims it has not aired any fairness cream ad for a year now and got kudos for it, some on social media questioned how the news organisation’s digital app has a fairness cream ad on it and why the channel does not have any dark-skinned news anchors.

In any case, we asked youth in the city what they think about fairness creams and the racism inherent in their promotion, as actors SRK and Yami Gautam are being mocked online for endorsing fairness cream brands.

Techie Srushti Kaste tells us that it is annoying to watch advertisements that blatantly promote fair skin. “It is insulting to women, as these ads shamelessly show women with dark skin shades looking depressed and dejected. What century do the people working for such brands live in? Today’s woman is proud of her body, complexion and profession – no matter how they are. I know more than a dozen dark-skinned ladies personally who are deeply comfortable in the way they look,” says Srushti.

But, says bestselling writer and creative writing professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Junot Diaz, the tendency to look down upon those who are not white in complexion may be something inherent to mankind. “White supremacy is not about white people at all. It is about a good majority of all human beings wanting to look whiter than they are,” he has said in several of his talks.

Deccan College of Engineering and Technology student Mohammed Fahadullah Khan says he partly ascribes to the idea put forward by Diaz.

“It is not just fairness cream brands who are to be blamed. After all, people working for these brands are also just normal people like us. They don’t come from any other evil planet. They see that a big number of people want to get fairer, and cash upon this urge. While what these brands do is wrong if you go by ethics, change will have to come from within the society, and not just from the cosmetics industry,” he says.