From the Viewsroom

Be comfortable in your own skin

PT Jyothi Datta | Updated on June 28, 2020

Fairness products perpetuate the worst of beauty stereotypes

Fair is foul in a very literal sense these days, as skin-lightening creams and marketing campaigns are taken down for perpetuating prejudices that link the colour of skin with beauty, success, and other stereotypes.

While this took a long time coming, the moment of change needs to be seized and with both hands to make it more than just a cosmetic change. Many have pointed out that continuing a “fairness” product but under a different name will not change attitudes in society. The product needs to be nixed, entirely. But the onerous task of change cannot be laid only at the doorstep of a corporate or advertising agency that is expected to prey on insecurities and prevailing trends. Society too needs to step-up to make diversity second nature to us, backing this up with safeguards and counsellors to protect people from being targeted for being different. Our world is replete with stereotypes, take the tall-dark-and-handsome image for men or advertising commercials that are obsessive about youth. Whether life imitates art or the other way round, the reality is, there is always going to be a benchmark that gets created that leaves someone feeling left behind.

Getting brands to become inclusive to show regular people (not air-brushed perfect specimens), is at best, a good start. And customers have forced that change, so now models with different skin-types promote creams and shampoos are promoted by women with grey-hair and unapologetic about it. Ethical consumers are forcing cosmetics firms, for instance, to stop testing products on animals and to mention it on their labels. But this needs fortification at a core level. Classrooms need to reflect diversity where children understand that all are made differently, and that’s the beauty of it. There are different economic and ethnic backgrounds, beliefs, gender, vulnerabilities, imperfections, and all of it is a strength, not weakness. People need to be empowered with education to be comfortable in their own skin and stand tall in being different.

Published on June 29, 2020

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