A Gender Specific Fetish

Amrita Ghosh has written an incisive column on gendered colorism in India. She describes the damaging classification of darker-skinned, or "dusky" women as not marriage material and generally undesirable. The makers of one product, "Fair and Lovely" skin-lightening cream, are particularly egregious (but, as Ghosh points out, are just making explicit undercurrents in the culture that were already there):

In 2001 they ran an offensive ad claiming that darker skinned women are incapable of getting jobs in the corporate world. I was shocked during one of the trips to my hometown, to see the advertisement flashing several times on one of the mainstream television channels throughout the day without respite. A 'dusky' girl goes for an interview to be an air-hostess for a reputed airline. She is obviously rejected because of her darker complexion. She returns home forlorn and sad, and faces her father who wishes he had a son who would have taken care of the parents in their old age; instead all they have is a dark daughter who is only capable of causing misery to the family.

Although protests were made sometime later against this commercial, I still can't reconcile to the fact that it was incessantly shown to the masses, validating not only the idea of color fixation but also the fact that a girl child is worthless and unwelcome in the 21st century. And the aforementioned fairness cream is certainly not the only product of its kind being marketed in India. There are various others which conjure similar normative truths and claim to their authenticity in changing skin tones, some even with the richness of ancient 'ayurvedic' formulae.

I'm making it a point to start checking over at Cerebration more often. Good stuff over there.