Fair And Lovely? So What?

Actor Abhay Deol has spoken out against top stars such as Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone for endorsing fairness creams. I do not know whether Deol has refused such offers in the past like Kangana Ranaut. Even if he has, it would have been much easier to say no, as I am sure he'd have been offered a pittance compared to Khan, Padukone or Ranaut. As a matter of fact, there is always a grey area about the intentions of fading or failing celebrities espousing a social cause to grab a bit of the disappearing spotlight.

The big question is, are our top stars being "racist" by backing the distorted mindset that fair is superior? Are they appealing to a baser instinct that differentiates humans based on the colour of their skin? Is this distasteful post-truth advertising? I do not think so. If it were so, the catch-line should have been bleached and lovely. And if fair girls were such an asset, northern states such as Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi, the supposed home to "white" Indians would not report the worst sex ratios in the whole world. The professed "dark" states Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, on the other hand, are at the top, in terms of number of girls born per thousand boys.

There are "corrective" options for everybody. A darker person can aspire to be a little fairer, just as a pale-skinned person may want to look bronzed.

Indeed, fairness products are just a minuscule part of a global multi-billion industry dedicated to looking better, mostly for women, increasingly for men. There is a sound business proposition at work here, which is that nobody is born perfect—hence there are "corrective" options for everybody, tall or short, fat or slim, fair or dark. A darker person can aspire to be a little fairer, just as a pale-skinned man/woman may want to look bronzed or tanned.

Marketers will continue to find niche areas to push their products, piggybacking on a Khan or Padukone to deliver real or imagined results. In all fairness, they are at best being opportunists rather than racists. If anything, the fashion industry fetish for size zero models is probably more harmful for the way a girl may look at herself.

As for fairness, yes there may be an emphasis on it in the matrimonial context, but is it really given more weightage than, say, height or a good degree. And don't we also know that love can transcend colour, religion, caste and economic status.