Stellar Chariot

By Arun Neelakandan

Skin Fairness Creams Suck

Udo applying shaving cream to his face
Photo by Juhan Sonin

For those that don’t know, fairness creams are skin-whitening creams that purport to making your skin lighter where applied. Such creams are used in many countries and especially popular in India (my country of origin) amongst both genders.

They reinforce the widely-held but unjust notion that lighter skin is superior. I realise that these kinds of products surfaced from public demand in a past generation, where ignorance may have been rampant [ref] My mother recalls that ‘Fair and Lovely’ was around in her time and that it must have been around by the 80s. But why still today? It frustrates me that the baton of ignorance is being passed on to the newer generations. In India, such attitudes are perpetuated by thoroughly silly marketing campaigns channelled via mass media outlets, popular culture and the general lack of outcry demonstrated by a great majority of the public. Matrimonial advertisements (a tool oft used in arranged marriages) frequently list ‘being fair’ as a requirement of the bride/groom being sought. Children are brought up with little exposure to dark-skinned people thriving in entertainment and popular media. When was the last time you saw a dark- skinned lead actor in Indian cinema that’s not from South India? (South Indians tend to be darker skinned) But light skin is still very much favoured over dark skin.

India is not the only country with this affliction. This issue with skin colour is widespread around the world. Consider the doll test in A Girl Like Me.

So what makes lighter skin colour desirable in the first place?

It appears to do with physical attractiveness and sociocultural factors. People from the higher echelons of society tended to develop a lighter complexion, because they weren’t tasked to perform physical labour in the sun. Moreover, a cyclic process is born by their children often inheriting light skin colour, helping retain class status. Of course, higher classes also tended to have more wealth — a common indicator of success. And it clearly makes sense to be associated with success, right?

Subconsciously, my tendencies are to favour lighter skin. I may not like to admit it, but that’s the truth. With this said, consciously I try to favour no particular skin colour. However, I am not a perfectly conscious being.

The bottom line is that unmerited discrimination should be avoided. Do not worry about about the colour of your skin, focus instead on keeping your skin healthy. Conscious, thinking beings will be able to look past their primitive programming and embrace you as you are.

Now, excuse me while I go and exfoliate my face.

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