Use a skin whitener to polish your intimacy.
The fairness obsession has reached an all-time ‘low’ in South Asian cultures with the recent launch of Clean and Dry, a feminine hygiene wash that promises “life for women will now be fresher, cleaner and more importantly fairer and more intimate.”
The product is the newest addition of Fair and Lovely, a company founded in India to give dark-skinned women ‘hope in a tube’ by lightening their complexions, it seems, just about everywhere.
The TV commercial for the wash features a couple who have intimacy issues because of the depressed wife’s dark privates.
Clean and Dry.
The intimate wash not only renews her vulva but also her husband’s lost interest.
While the demand for fairness products remain high in countries like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and China, the advertisement was sure to get some flak to which the the director of the commercial, Alyque Padamsee, said: “Lipstick is used to make your lips redder, fairness cream is used to make you fairer. So what’s the problem?”
Surprisingly, this ethos is so widespread that some of the most popular celebrities in the Indian subcontinent aggressively endorse these brands.
An earlier campaign, consisting of several episodes, involved a dusky Indian actress who is dumped by her fiancé for a light-skinned woman.
The heart-broken girl finds hope in a jar of Pond’s White Beauty cream, and sure enough, it changes her complexion and ex-boyfriend to give her a brighter future.
Another TV ad featuring Fair and Handsome depicts a dark young man spurned by his crush but, after using a magical lightening cream, attracts the girl like a magnet. Well at least they are fair about including men.
The business for lightening creams is huge in countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh with in-your-face advertisements constantly reminding them of their inferiority complex over skin color.
But while this industry plays on peoples’ insecurities, it is in reality a reflection of a widespread mindset: Fair is lovely and dark is ugly.
Fight it in the West but promote it in the East.
This kind of prejudice puts racism to shame and continues to exist in a large part of the Asian community settled in the West.
People from these cultures continue to long for white skin with all its positive connotations like purity, innocence and beauty in contrast to its dark rival.
Dark spells doom and at its very best, seductive, which is not the most desired quality within these societies. What’s more surprising is that this obsession has crossed over to countries where discrimination against skin color is glaringly discouraged.
When you walk into a Pakistani or Indian supermarket in the Bay Area, there is a wide range of fairness products in the beauty aisle that include whitening soaps, masks and creams from companies like Avon, Ponds, Jolen, Dabur Uveda and Shahnaz Hussain. Some claim to turn your color shades whiter in ‘just 7 days’.
In these cultures, your color can do wonders or blunders. And skin color is not only associated with beauty, but also success and marital bliss.
Harris Lodhi, a Pakistani American who has been living in Fremont since 20 years, says that even in a country where tans are sought after, this long-held prejudice has remained steadfast.
He started using a lightening cream recently because of negative comments on his skin color from his friends and relatives among the Pakistani American community. “When I went to Pakistan last time and met people who I had not met in a long time, they said, ‘oh my God. What happened to you? You have lost your color.’”
Lodhi admits that he perceives fairness to be synonymous with beauty. “That’s just the way Pakistanis think,” he says. He adds that the reason is probably an idée fixe that most likely developed during the British rule over the two countries before the partition.
What is even more surprising is that the younger generation, who have been born and raised in California, also equate light skin with desirability and almost have an apologetic attitude if they happen to be too brown.
Kasim Khan, a high school student of Pakistani descent who has lived here all his life also says that it bothers him when he gets a deeper tan during the summer. “I’m looking for something to use to become lighter,” he says.
Similarly, Aliza Ahmed, also born and raised in the Bay Area but of Pakistani origin, supports him by saying, “I hate getting browner in the summer because I look so Indian.”
Some say that the fairness craze is a product of the British rule before the partition of India and Pakistan, the Hindu caste system or fierce advertising but one thing remains certain: Products like Clean and Dry Intimate Wash have a lot of scope for generations to come and this color fixation is not going to be embraced by the pigmented race any time soon.