Shame, Shame

17 Aug, billed as the world’s #1 Matrimonial Website with over 2 million marriage matches, has been added to the “Shame Shame” category.

Why? They don’t make skin-whitening cream and they help further romance in the world.  But they also keep reinforcing the idea that skin color is tied to self worth.

In’s “Smart Search“, skin color, or “complexion”, is more important than habits such as whether the person eats meat, smokes, or drinks.  It is placed much higher than even the person’s field of work or education.  The “Smart Search” for complexion includes the choices “Fair”, “Wheatish”, or “Dark.”  (Click the image to see the location of “complexion.”)

With that in mind, it’s better to be a “Fair” unemployed, 3-pack a day smoker who hits the bottle than to be “Dark”, sober, and employed.

More to the point, according to the AGP (Angence-French Press):

In 2009, a poll of nearly 12,000 people by online dating site, revealed that skin tone was considered the most important criteria when choosing a partner in three northern Indian states. [boldface added]

Shame, shame.  What is wheatish anyway?  Can it be checked with a brown paper bag test?  Perhaps someone should make a Facebook app  for this–oh, but Vaseline already did that.  Ayy!


Hope for Peace: Letter of Praise for Fair & Lovely

15 Aug

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to thank you for your wonderful skin care products. I am a US Resident of Indian Origin and, while on a visit to Bombay, I discovered your “Fair and Lovely” cream.

Three months ago, while visiting a friend, I saw a bottle of Fair and Lovely (FAL) by her sink. Of radiant complexion, the friend swore that FAL gave her skin its fair glow. As I darken easily, I asked her if the product might help me in avoiding the strong rays of South India while away from my Boston home. She smiled and handed me a container of FAL.

I am 32 years old. I am not one to delve quickly into new habits and two days passed before I first used Fair and Lovely. During this time I questioned the women in my uncle’s business office–all of them used skin-whitening creams. Except for one person, her face marked by old acne, all of them preferred Fair and Lovely. However, given the millions of dollars spent on such creams each year in India and my cautious nature, I did not take dinner party advice and a half dozen office women as definitive counsel.

As a test, I purchased two additional whitening creams, brands which a trusted pharmacist called his top sellers. I tested the three creams, applying them to a discrete area according to their various instructions–each cream given a 2″x2″ surface to prove its worth. After only three weeks, I found Fair and Lovely to be a far superior product. Despite sitting and water exposure during a trip to Goa, Fair and Lovely performed exceptionally well at whitening. Its closest competitor, produced far less whitening and also an itch, causing me to discontinue its use.

For the last months, I have used Fair and Lovely for my entire skin area, causing friends and co-workers in Boston to comment on my improved appearance. I attribute my recent nomination to a management training program to the effervescent skin produced by Fair and Lovely.

I cannot say enough in support of your product. However, one friend who works in academia became outraged when I told her about my use of Fair and Lovely. She charged that the product took advantage of cultural biases in India and reinforced the stereotype that people with lighter skin were endowed with more intelligence and beauty. As I mentioned earlier, I am not one to delve quickly into new habits, or the use of personal care products, without doing some research. I reminded her that Unilever boasted a long, proud history of cultural sensitivity, as well as a commitment to helping improve conditions throughout the impoverished countries where it sold many of its products. However, the friend could not be deterred and accused Unilever’s TV commercials in India, such as the one showing those with Fair and Lovely lightened skinned receiving better jobs and marriage offers, as morally wrong.

After much thought of her knee-jerk reaction, my respect for Fair and Lovely deepened. If one is to accuse Fair and Lovely of cultural bias, then one might as well ban all of the advertising and top movies in India. No billboard fails to show pale skinned models. Top movies feature only light skinned stars. No one has called to tear down billboards or stop movies because of skin color. The Indian preference for lighter skin will continue for generations with or without Fair and Lovely. The expensively educated elite, such as my friend who criticizes your product, do not appreciate the life situations of the poorer people who purchase Fair and Lovely.

Use of Fair and Lovely can actually help poor people advance their stations in life by opening doors previously closed. With fairer skin many will have a better chance of being hired. Once selected for a job, their skills and perseverance will determine their future. In a way, Fair and Lovely, has succeeded where India’s preferential treatment programs have failed. Once Fair and Lovely users reach higher positions, they may reduce their usage of the cream, showing that skin color is not a determinant of intelligence. Widespread Fair and Lovely usage may even reduce the number of generations needed for people of darker skin to be more widely accepted in all walks of life.

My liberal friend believes that only time and education will allow reduce Indian color consciousness. However, she comes from a utopian view. As I work in the business world, I prefer more practical, multi-pronged approaches when faced with problems. While education will help, skin-whitening creams may also play an integral role in helping reduce the color problem. It is certainly more effective than preferential treatments which waste tax payer money and cause resentment from all sides. Instead, use of Fair and Lovely pays for itself. Pardon my brazen words, but in some respects, Fair and Lovely may prove more effective in reducing social tensions than the plans of esteemed personages such as Martin Luther King and even Gandhiji himself. Although both men provided personal dignity and hope, their policies of equality ended in failure. Their actions changed laws but not social realities. Although I would not betray such musings to my academic friend, in some ways, I think of Fair and Lovely as a quiet revolution.

I regret not discovering Fair and Lovely earlier in my life. I realize it would be quite a fragile task to increase Fair and Lovely marketing in the US–being away in India reminds me of how sensitive and protective US citizens are. However, I hope that you find a way of introducing it to others in the States, as an effort to reduce discrimination which appears in forms ranging from police profiling to discriminatory prices when applying for a car loan. Already I have sent tubes to two people.

The first, a close friend, is a dark-skinned American of Indian origin. Although Ivy-educated and successful in business (made his first million by age 27), the police stop him two to three times per year because of his skin color and nice car. Although the stops never last more than 15 minutes, they cause him days of anger and a deep feeling of humiliation.

My younger brother, in his last year of college, has also received a tube. During his last semester, not a week went by without someone from a passing car calling him a “#$!%$ Arab!!” and telling him to leave the country. In the last months, he has been inclined to attend his karate practice with more diligence. But I tell him it’s not the way. Violence makes no sense in these situations. As he is already of light complexion, FAL would simplify his life in a matter of weeks. Although he resists using it now, I hold out strong hopes for his future, especially If skin-whitening creams become more socially acceptable in the U.S.

Thank you again and I look forward to seeing more of your product in the U.S.



(bleh!  puke!  Several years ago I sent this faux letter to FAL and actually received a response–which I can no longer find.  In short, they were quite happy.)

India: World Leader in Skin-Whitening Product Diversification

10 Aug

It’s not only armpits, a new shower wash targets more intimate areas.  See the video below for “Clean and Dry Intimate wash” by Midas-Care.

As reported in the Hindustan Times, Midas-Care calls attention to the products health properties: “The wash keeps the skin clean, fair and safe from infections. Fairness is just one of the many offerings.”

Really? We thought soap did that too.

Read more about this on Slate, especially the disturbing statistic that 40% of women in India “think they are too dark to be attractive.”

Not to be ignored, National Geographic  has additional coverage and statistics.

Congratulations to Midas-Care, for reaching a new low in the skin-whitening war for market share.

Shame, Shame Shah Rukh

7 Aug

Shah Rukh Khan, arguably the world’s most famous actor should withdraw his support for “Fair and Handsome” skin-lightening cream for men.

Until then, he has claimed the top spot on our “Wall of Shame.”

As Shah Rukh Khan heads into his 5th or 6th year of skin-whitening product endorsements, we can only imagine the psychological anxiety he has been able to create.  See a 2007 BBC magazine article for when SRK made a clear choice of cash over conscience.

For those not familiar with SRK, if someone in the US had the combined star power of Tom Cruise, Michael Jordan, Clint Eastwood, and Justin Beiber (at their peaks), that would only begin to touch SRK’s power in India.  It’s as if a god had come to the earth.

Nearly everything else he does is quite honorable, but what is this SRK?  Shame, shame.

“Epidermalization of this inferiority”

7 Aug

Substitute “negro” for dark-skinned Asian: the “need” for skin cream starts on the inside.

“For several years certain laboratories have been trying to produce a serum for ‘denegrification’ … embarked on research that might make it possible for the miserable negro to whiten himself.”

” . . . the internalization – or better, the epidermalization of this inferiority”

This quote is from Frantz Fanon’s Black Skin, White Masks, published in 1952.  More information on this book may be read on the Emory University website.

Read more information on Frantz Fanon or look at a list of his books.

China sun protection

6 Aug

Sunbathers in China have found a way to reduce skin cancer!  According to an August 4th New York Times article, sunbathers preserve whiteness by wearing specially fitted masks to reduce exposure.

The results are ridiculous.  For those who naturally have more melanin, the market in China has skin-whitening creams produced by L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, and Clinique.

Further reading:

A Ligher Shade of Pale  – China Daily USA

– See more pictures in the Wall Street Journal

photo: New York Times