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Glow and Lovely- From An IPR War To a Run From Racism

Fair & Lovely, a skin-lightening cosmetic product of Hindustan Unilever Limited has recently decided to drop out ‘Fair’ from its brand name. Sold in many countries of Asia, namely India, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand, Pakistan, this brand is facing criticism from many years for promoting colorism. Because of its advertising and packaging, it suggests that if one has a fair or whiter complexion then one can be an achiever. In other words, it equates fair skin with beauty and self-confidence.


Fair & Lovely products have been endorsed by leading Bollywood actresses and had regularly advertised the association of beauty with marriage, a job as an air hostess, and even as a doctor which has been a subject of dislike among people. Thus, the flood of commentary speaks volumes of the stranglehold skin tone has had on the commerce around beautiful and desirable, blighting a nation of immense color diversity.



BACKGROUND BEHIND THIS DECISION

In the wake and light of Black Lives Matter due to the recent murder incident of George Floyd in Minnesota has sparked up protest all over the world and has called out beauty brands for committing a bias based on skin color. Due to this heartburn among people, many brands like Johnson & Johnson, Neutrogena Fine Fairness, and Clear Fairness by Clean and Clear have announced to discontinue its skin creams which advertised the words ‘fairness’, ‘whitening’ and ‘lightening’. Followed by them, Hindustan Unilever Limited on 25th June 2020, proclaimed that it would drop the word ‘Fair’ from its Fair and Lovely brand.

Another reason for this announcement was Chandana Hiran, a 22-year-old girl from Mumbai who became the backbone of this protest and started a petition on Change.org where more than 10,000 people signed the petition which eventually compelled the company to change its name.


REACTIONS ON THIS DECISION

People are rejoicing after hearing the news as it is a huge step in changing the narrative that has been built over decades.

Nina Davuluri, the New-York based actor, producer, and the first woman of Asian descent to win the Miss America title in 2014 and creator of a docuseries called COMPLEXion, had written an open letter to Alan Hope at Unilever Limited on 23rd June 2020, calling upon him to take back skin lightening products. After hearing the news, she applauded the move and said that- “This is a big win, but it’s only the beginning”.

Ronita Mishra, Business Consultant and Founder of Brand Eagle Consulting commented that- “Nonetheless, it’s a big step forward in the right direction and will eventually shape and influence consumer psyche towards a more holistic perception of beauty”.

Lloyd Mathias, Business Strategist, and Angel Investor said, “I think this is a positive move by Hindustan Unilever Limited, though long overdue, should be welcomed”.


CONCLUSION

Hence, it is a major step taken by the companies and people should welcome the same because healthy skin is one that is fresh and spotless, not whiter and fairer. The brands have now understood the concept of colorism and have also decided to adopt a more diversified approach to the portrayal of beauty. They have removed the shade guides and will also remove the cameo of two faces from the package of Fair & Lovely. Thus, people are now much awaited for the new brand name and new packaging of the same.

Thus, it could be understood and concluded that-

“Colorism, as the practice in the glamour world is also known as, is perhaps the most visible form of racism in the subcontinent”. - Seema Chishti

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tanya Sharma is a 3rd-year student at the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, Dehradun.

They can be contacted at tanyasharma5608@gmail.com

Edited By: Arushi Gupta

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