A celebration of skin-whitening

I’ve previously expressed my utter surprise on learning that Gandhi seems to have been more conservative than usual in his views on race. It isn’t too surprising that a black cheerleader is turned away from a cricket match in this country, I thought, in light of what Gandhi’s opinions seem to have been.

What is surprising, though, is the sheer number of celebrities in India who have started endorsing skin-whitening concoctions. And it isn’t just the women. In what has to be the most misplaced application of gender-equality, very popular (and rich) men have started endorsing these cans of chemicals too.

Once upon a time, there used to be only one brand of these pouches of discrimination. And that brand used to be regularly berated for reinforcing stereotypes and encouraging discrimination, at least by sensible people. No longer.

There are now, and I’m certain I’ve missed a few, half a dozen names for these tubs of bleach, each with a bigger name from bollywood asking people to use them. Shahrukh Khan, John Abraham, Shahid Kapoor, Genelia, Katrina Kaif, Sonam Kapoor, Deepika Padukone have all endorsed some bag of crap or the other… and again, I’m sure I’ve missed a few. Even if I haven’t, it’s probably only because the manufacturers didn’t want the celebrities and not the other way around.

If we assume that ad-films are made to appeal to their audiences*, I have to ask: WTF is wrong with this society? Screen-tests, job-interviews, friendships, dates and marriages are all going to be decided based on skin-colour, now? I think I even remember one ad where a father doesn’t like his daughter because she isn’t the right colour.

For crying out loud!

The one instance I seem to have read about where a celebrity has turned down one of these pouches of stupidity is that of Aishwarya Rai turning down something called ‘White Perfect’, although you might find ‘unseen’ ad-posters on the internet somewhere. (If the posters are real, does that mean she agreed, but then weighed the money against her public image? Does that make her better or worse than the others?).

Bipasha Basu seems to be the only other of the bollywood who’s-who to have never been associated with this stupidity, and to have called these spades out for what they are. Should one be surprised that she isn’t fair-skinned to begin with?

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*(It is possible that the people making these ads are the same idiots who made this ad)

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