People in the sub-continent have always been obsessed with fair skin. Colorism, or discrimination on the basis of skin color within the people of the same race, is the direct consequence of the centuries-long British colonization. And while the colonizers have long left the sub-continent physically, the deep-rooted inferiority they inflicted upon our forefathers is still rampant in our generation.
Darker-skinned people, especially women, have faced discrimination for a lot of years now. Be it in their professional or personal lives – people with light skin color tend to be favored by society. Although the discussion on the topic of colorism and the toxicity that it perpetuates has been going on for a long time now, things took a whole new turn with the Black Lives Matter movement gaining momentum on a global scale this year after the death of an African American man, George Floyd.
And yet, our celebrities continue to endorse the products that directly and indirectly promote colorism. But it seems like their industry colleagues are now tired of this behavior and are actively calling them out!
After the brutal death of George Floyd, many celebrities all over the world lent their support to the Black Lives Matter movement. Pakistani and Indian celebrities also did the same. However, their support wasn’t well-received by the netizens of the countries. People called these celebrities out for their hypocrisy and said that on one hand, they raise their voices for dark-skinned people, yet on the other hand, they endorse fairness creams, such as Fair & Lovely.
The backlash that the company Unilever faced, when the conversation about race and color was being held at a global level, led to Unilever changing the brand’s name from Fair & Lovely to Glow & Lovely, since the brand’s original name equated whiter skin with beauty and confidence. Mawra Hocane, who has been endorsing the product for a while now, continues to be associated with it post its rebranding.
Changing a product’s name and marketing technique doesn’t change its disturbing and deeply rooted history. Sajal Aly and Sanam Jung who have also endorsed skin whitening products have received their share of criticism as well.
A few months ago, Zara Noor Abbas posted a video of a small girl talking about the discrimination she faces as a kid with dark skin. Netizens were quick to point out how Zara was sympathizing with the dark-skinned girl, yet she starred in a Pond’s beauty face wash advertisement earlier this year. She even made a perplexing comment under one of her Instagram posts where she said starring in such an advertisement has nothing to do with being a racist.
Zara seemed to have completely missed the point that while colorism and racism are two different things, they are equally dangerous. A face wash might not be killing someone in the literal sense, but the ideas that the brand perpetuates through their products kill the self-esteem of countless people every day.
Recently, Ayeza Khan shocked the internet when she endorsed a fairness cream that is known to have harmful chemicals and has been banned in the country a couple of years back. Ayeza enjoys a very good social media following and she is definitely one of the country’s most in-demand actors as all her dramas get good TRPs and online views. For her to choose to associate with a brand like Faiza Beauty Cream is truly an astonishing move.
Celebrities against fairness creams
Thankfully, in Pakistan, many celebrities have revealed themselves that they said no to promoting fairness creams. In an interview, Sanam Saeed said that she would never do anything to change her complexion because that’s who she is. Mahira Khan, Ayesha Omar, and Momina Mustehsan admitted on Twitter that they have been turning down fairness product endorsements ever since they started their careers. Iqra Aziz and Mansha Pasha also voiced their strong opinions about not promoting such products.
Models turned actresses Amna Ilyas and Eman Suleman often criticize their fellow actresses for promoting skin whitening creams. Amna Ilyas even went on to mock Ayeza Khan for starring in a Faiza Beauty Cream commercial. These actresses haven’t shied away from calling a spade a spade, and more power to them for doing so.
It is 2020, and if our actresses are still proudly starring in commercials that deem dark-skinned women as undeserving, then it isn’t just about starring in commercials; it is about believing in a wrong ideology. And it is good that the celebrities’ colleagues are not shying away from calling them out for it.
These popular actresses and celebrities can change the way standards of beauty are perceived in society by promoting how to love one’s own natural skin color. More power to those who do so! And to those who continue to promote products that prioritize a person’s skin color over everything else, may they see the light soon.