“Fair and Lovely” is a face-whitening cream, which is advertised and sold mostly in India. The manufacturers claim that it’s 100% safe to use, “works like laser light to give best fairness,” “goes deep inside to brighten dark skin cells” and “gives glowing radiant fairness” (https://www.fairandlovely.in/products/advance-multi-vitamin-cream). If you go further to read what’s on the advertisers’ pages, you find that it is expected women will see results from the first week, but the product should be used “twice a day everyday” thus it is expected that this will be a billion-people market using this product for the rest of their lives. The language used along with this product is offensive because it suggests that only white is beautiful, only light colored skin is attractive and desirable and it says “cosmetically targets flaws” (https://www.fairandlovely.in/ask-the-experts?q=16). By using expressions like “fairness” and “flaws” the manufacturers are telling billions of women around the world that they are not quite “fair” enough, or “lovely” enough and they can do something about it, by using bleaching cremes to become whiter. One big issue with this is that there is no exact measure for “whiteness,” so there is no way for a woman to know when she is fair enough or white enough. Women are never supposed to stop using the product, therefore becoming an ongoing market, subjected to impossible standards of beauty that they cannot achieve because they are working literally against nature. Not only are women supposed to fight against their genetics, but they are supposed to fight under impossible conditions of living in hot, mostly sunny environment. This cream is just another capitalist-based, marketing induced scheme to make women spend money for impossible standards of beauty.
My jammed version of the ad shows some regular women walking past the ad, and it changes the writing to “Because White is Right” to show the ridiculous expectations and claims of products like these. First of all, the obsession with light skin is European-based and it has been exported to India and other countries along with colonialism. The colonists appreciated white skin as being a proof of higher economic class, as it meant that women who were not tanned didn’t work outside or in the fields. Now, this obsession with light skin is also a reflection of India’s bourgeois expectations, as more professional individuals are earning higher incomes, working inside and being upper class. The manufacturers of the cream are exploiting the same colonial expectations which were imposed upon the people of India, but they do so by suggesting to women customers that if they get lighter skin they will be better looking, more attractive and more high-class. This is injurious to women’s self esteem and it also causes them to want to purchase this higher status, by spending money on a product which fights against their biology. This is highly ironic considering that in North America we have an obsession with tanning, so the tanning salon industry is blooming at the same time a company like Fair and Lovely is making huge profits. This ad choice was inspired by a friend who brought Fair and Lovely from India when she moved here but, in a few years, she started tanning because now she’s buying into the North American expectation of tanned skin equals health. So, I hope my jammed version shows the colonial remnants of expectations of lightness and shows how marketing companies do nothing but exploit women’s insecurities, regardless of what country they live in. By always saying “You’re not good enough,” to women, companies can make obscene profits.