Fairness as the beauty ideal in Asia is one that has been held for as long as I can remember. However, it wasn’t necessarily just this that I found fault with in my Not Fair column last September , but rather the stereotype that was perpetuated in the media that being dark-skinned meant that you’re uneducated, uncivilised and ugly. The message that skin lightening cream adverts sent out was clear: become fairer and you’ll have a fast-track ticket to a more successful and happier life.
Times are thankfully changing and the petition created by Women of Worth to take down the most recent Fair & Handsome advert starring Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, attracted more than 25,000 signatures. So, what happened next?
The team, together with their supporters, hand-delivered the petition to the Emami office in Mumbai (the parent company of Fair & Handsome), to Shah Rukh Khan himself and to Situations Advertising. Following this, Mr Mohan Goenka the Managing Director of the Emami Group then agreed to a face to face meeting with Kavitha Emmanuel, founder-director of Women of Worth to discuss his response to the petition.
The talks will be taking place on Saturday the 18th of January where the organisation hopes to ask the Emami Group to release a statement recognising the advert’s underlying bias and encourage them to lead the change in how the issue of skin tone is presented in both marketing and in the media.
Fingers crossed for a fair outcome. These downright ridiculous adverts and the exploitation of an out-of-date belief really has been going on for long enough.