In a very recent news a leading FMCG company Unilever removed the words ‘Fair’ and ‘whitening’ from the product Fair and Lovely, that is actually a pioneer in the skin segment. And while I was penning the article I came across the news the it will now be called Glow and Lovely.
Not sure how much of a change that will be and how much will it help in changing mindsets? But today I wanted to share the impact it has had on my life and those around me.
Growing up I was really dark. My skin tends to tan easily and I was always an outdoor person. There was no sunscreen or any knowledge around it. I was always told to not have tea or go out much in the sun or I will get ‘Kaali’.
I was always a rebel and while I never showed it to anyone, it subconsciously affected my confidence within me. When my grandma said;
Ye to bahut kali hai, kuch karo nahi to shaadi nahi hogi.
(She is too dark, if you don’t do something she will not get married)
Or when the boys I had a crush on did not give me a second glance. Or even when my mom, made me various uptans(scrubs) to brighten my complexion. I did not show it ever, but I sat in front of a mirror every day, hoping and praying that I wish God had made me just two shades lighter. I never wanted a white complexion but a light shade of brown would not be bad.
I felt I had beautiful features but felt that my complexion doused them. Soon I grew up and complexion improved or stopped mattering, I don’t know what happened first. The more confident me felt pretty and then came the attention of the opposite gender.
I spent countless hours sitting and playing dress up in front of the mirror and wishing that if I was just two shades brighter it would be enough.
Then came college and I moved cities and of course, the sun exposure reduced but at the same time I was offered this cream by my younger cousin. So I correlated my skin clearing up to the cream and really used it religiously for some years. I think till education made me smarter and get over my complexion complex. Role models like Nandita Das and Naomi Campbell, helped.
Luckily, the new city, my new peers and my college changed my perspective to the way world worked and it was now more about being a better, smarter, more confident and educated person. Thankfully, the complex never came back, the complexion kept changing though.
You would think, good I healed but no, soon I was surrounded by body weight issues. I was always skinny as a kid never had to worry about putting on weight but now I could see metabolism slowing down and those unwanted bulges appearing. Now I was spending time worrying about clothes fittings, trying out fad diets and more.
Broken relationships left me even more confused as to what really went wrong, what am I missing? Am I not pretty or nice? Am I not good enough?
I would see these ordinary looking women project auras which will hold you captive and wonder why they feel so attractive when they are not conventionally pretty? Wonder why I never felt like them. I never understood until I overcame my own insecurities and realised that every person, every woman is pretty if they feel pretty. It took years of mental battling to overcome these complexes and now when I look back I do feel what if I had grown up feeling confident in who I am? Would I have turned out to be a different person?
Have you ever felt the same or been called out for your complexion? In my household where we don’t promote such talks, I see my elder one fight the same battles because his peers have made him believe that his dark complexion makes him not good enough. I feel a sense of Deja vu.
In another instance, D=during the full lockdown when I asked my helps what they needed the most. I was trying to procure essentials. The two things they asked me were sanitary napkins and Fair and Lovely.
I was a bit taken aback. Both my helps have lovely complexions. It is sometimes sad to see that this cream has been sown into their mindsets as an association to being pretty. Such is the penetration of this cream.
I am really happy that company like Unilever has taken this huge step, still I would had preferred if they had come with something more innovative and inspirational. However, it’s a start. It takes years to build a brand but staying true to your core values is way more important and the new young India needs it. I personally love the way Tanishq has changed their entire marketing campaign to talk about single moms, women over 40, remarriage and more.
In another news, Shaadi.com was asked to remove complexion filter from their website. Another huge win for a country surrounded by people with the, Only fair is beautiful, thought process.
Finally, I would like to say look beyond, there is a pretty you within you, just waiting to be evoked. You do not need creams or even affirmations from others to know this. You are lovely and unique in our own way. We all are.