Even though Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was made in 1937, Snow White’s standard of beauty has endured for over 70 years. We are all very aware of this trend in Bollywood and I previously wrote a post on Bollywood stars advertising for fairness creams, but the issue of attaining fairer skin is just not contained within India. From Jakarta to Johannesburg, achieving lighter skin is a goal for thousands of people.
The fairness cream market is very successful in other parts of Asia, such as Thailand, Malaysia, and Hong Kong, where the ad above is pictured. According to a 2004 survey by Synovate, a research company, 50% of surveyed Filipino women used fairness cream, followed by 45% of women in Hong Kong, and 41% in Malaysia. The survey also noted that companies behind these fairness products, like Unilever and L’Oreal, have increased product lines to meet the high Asian demand.
Skin lightening is not only a female only trend, it impacts males as well. Outside of India, two famous examples of this are not models, or actors, but rather a veteran baseball player and a rap star. Sammy Sosa, the Chicago Cubs (a baseball team) legend, above, attributes his new look (on the left) to a side effect of a facial moisturizer. Another example is Jamaican rapper Vybz Kartel, below, who raps proudly about his lighter skin.
Thus, this “fair” standard of beauty is a global problem, and it does not seem to simmer any time soon. While I really hope Bollywood takes an active stand against advertising for these creams, I also feel that us as consumers should actively boycott these products as much as we can. I am very happy to support Miss Malini’s “Brown is Beautiful” campaign!