"I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character".
Martin Luther King, Jr.
|Fair and lovely? Really?|
Let me take you on a trip down memory lane to a time when I was still a teenager.
It is a nice sunny day in a small city in India. I sit down to watch some television. I think of watching a bollywood movie or some peppy music videos for some entertainment. After a while I realize the only thing I have been able to catch on the multitude of channels are a string of daft advertisements. I get mildly annoyed but carry on channel surfing as always. Then I see it....the advertisement for a 'Fair and Lovely' fairness cream. A dusky, forlorn young girl appears on screen. There is an air of melancholy about her (am I imagining it or are there subtle tints of sepia adding to the dullness?). We see her hopes of procuring her dream job go down the drain when her application to a prestigious flight attendant training institute is curtly rejected. It seems as if she has nothing going for her. Her parents watch over her anxiously, their faces etched with worry. It is quite apparent that they are thinking on the lines of "Alas! What is to become of our dark (and potentially ugly) daughter?". And then, out of the shadows emerges a friend (the incarnation of an angel, minus the halo) and passes her a tube of fairness cream. The dusky girl looks unsure at first but then her expression changes as she is struck with the realization that her destiny is tied to this small tube of white muck. So she religiously applies it everyday....morning, noon and night. We are helpfully shown a color transformation chart with a shade guide as a reference. And then, lo and behold, in a period of few weeks, the ugly duckling has transformed into a beautiful swan! (by the way, at this stage, the sepia tints have been replaced by a glowing luminescence). Her skin is ghostly white and we see a obvious albeit unnatural radiance emanating from her. No prizes for guessing that she also nails the interview to become a flight attendant. The interviewer looks like he has been struck by the "thunder bolt" (I'm quoting The Godfather here), so mesmerized by her "loveliness" that it seems that all she has to do is sit in front of him and flash her pearly whites (which by the way matches her skin tone) to qualify for the job. Her parents are predictably elated and shed copious tears of of joy. Although, the advertisement ends on a happy note, I feel anything but that. On the contrary, I realize that I am quite incensed. Coming back to the present, I don't really know if such ads are still being telecast, but I sure hope to God that they aren't!