Fair & Lovely, is a global cosmetic brand with one aim – to provide ‘effective and visible fairness to women’. You may think I’m joking, but ever since Unilever established the brand in India, they’ve been reinforcing the idea that lighter (and whiter) skin is more beautiful for 40 years.
Using 100% safe ingredients, [we] provide effective and visible fairness to women, and more than that, it provides hope. Hope to millions of women around the world, especially in Asia, who desire fairer and even-toned skin, for how it makes them feel about themselves, and for how it makes the world see them.
Sadly, it’s only one of many products selling like hotcakes all over the world. But to contrast the scrubs, lotions that tear into the pigments of our skin and destroy the melanin – there’s a campaign that’s been launched to disenfranchise the skin whitening regime.
#UnfairandLovely is a hashtag celebrating dark-skinned people of colour. The social media campaign has been created by Pax Jones, and sisters, Mirusha and Yanusha Yogarajah, a group of black and South Asian women, who study at the University of Texas.
It’s a campaign which has been well-recieved online.
Mirusha Yogarajah recently told the BBC she readily agreed to be a part of the campaign, a concept created by 21-year-old black student Pax, because shadeism & colourism is rampant within the South Asian community.
‘Most of us are advised not to go out in the sun because we’ll get darker. It’s as if darkness is undesirable.’
Mirusha touches on the aggressive ideology that manufacturers of these whitening products thrive on.
They prey on basic human insecurities – consumers are encouraged to believe that lightening their skin tone a shade or two will lead them on to getting ‘better’ jobs and partners, and generally improve the quality of their lives. Why is the stripping of melanin being promoted as standard?
This campaign stamps on those messages. It strives and succeeds in reminding women that not only is ‘dark skin beautiful’, but also that every colour is beautiful. But what’s especially evident is that it’s prompting conversation, and according to Mirusha that’s exactly what they set out to achieve.
We wanted to start a conversation and I think we have succeeded in that.