Bollywood actors Richa Chadha, Bipasha Basu and Abhay Deol have welcomed the decision to rebrand popular cream Fair and Lovely.
Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL) on Thursday announced it was dropping the word ‘Fair’ from the name of its best-selling fairness cream.
Basu shared a long post on Instagram while addressing the deep-rooted stigma attached with skin colour, mentioning how she had to deal with being described as “dusky” all her life.
“From the time I was growing up I heard this always, ‘Bonnie is darker than Soni. She is little dusky na?’ Even though my mother is a dusky beauty and I look a lot like her. I never knew why that would be a discussion by distant relatives when I was a kid,” she wrote.
“Soon at 15/ 16 I started modelling and then I won the supermodel contest ... all newspapers read ... dusky girl from Kolkata is the winner. I wondered again why Dusky is my first adjective???” she posted on social media.
“Then I went to New York and Paris to work as a model and I realised my skin colour was exotic there and I got more work and attention because of it. Another discovery of mine.”
“Once I came back into India and film offers started... and finally I did my first film and from an absolute Ajnabee [stranger] to Hindi film industry ... I suddenly was accepted and loved. But the adjective stayed, which I started liking and loving by then. DUSKY girl wows the audiences in her debut film.”
“There was a strong mindset of Beauty and how an actress should look and behave. I was different as it was pointed out. Didn’t really stop me from being and doing all that I loved. Well you see I was confident and proud of who I was from childhood. My skin colour didn’t define me ... even though I love it and wouldn’t want it to be any different ever,” Basu wrote.
“Many skin care endorsements with loads of money was offered to me in the last 18 years (some were very tempting)... but I stuck to my principle always. All this needs to stop. This wrong dream that we are selling ... that only fair is lovely and beautiful when the majority of the country is brown skinned. It’s a deep rooted stigma. It’s a mammoth step from the brand... and other brands should follow in the same footsteps soon,” Basu added.
Better late than never
Chadha welcomed the decision, saying defining beauty with fairness is an “unfortunate byproduct of colonialism and casteism”.
“'Not Fair but Lovely', I had gotten this printed on a T shirt back in 2015. Yesterday, the brand @fairandlovely_id and I were finally in agreement! Yesterday, they dropped the word FAIR from their product name...”
“Before you attack the brand for only paying ‘lip service’, please remember, it takes many generations for ideas to change. There is demand and hence there is supply...We have been told since we were children, that fairness is the only definition of beauty! It is also another unfortunate byproduct of colonialism and casteism! But it’s 2020, and a lot of BS is getting dismantled!” she said.
“It took me many years of unlearning to gain confidence and start LOVING my complexion! Der aye durust aye [better late than never], I say.”
“I welcome this decision by the brand... and it’s not easy... brands have a thousand meetings before they change even the FONT in their logo... I hope slowly and steadily mindsets change... we must continuously and without any influence of the West, define our own idea of beauty. Beauty must be inclusive! Bravo @fairandlovely_id,” wrote Chadha on Instagram.
Sign of the times
Deol feels ongoing anti-racism campaigns are a major trigger behind the fairness cream rebranding.
“It took a world backlash and the #blacklivesmatter movement to give us a push in this direction. But make no mistake, all of you who have been vocal about the need for a cultural shift in regard to the sale and endorsement of fairness creams in our country contributed to this victory.”
“We have a long way to go in breaking our conditioning of what constitutes for beauty, but this is a small step in the right direction. It’s the starting point to a long road ahead. What a beautiful beginning! #nomorefairandlovely #peoplepower,” shared the actor.