We hadn’t even busted the concept of ‘Fair and Lovely’ and men came on the fairness race tracks. Since time immemorial, fair skin had been on the top in the checklist of attractiveness for women. Little did we know that it would become a top priority for men too. The immediate spur in the market for male fairness creams shows that men were using skin-lightning products meant for women, all along. The obsession to score high on the skin shade card is such that the famous, ‘tall, dark and handsome’ has now shifted to ‘tall, fair and debonair’. So what’s it with fairness creams for men?
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Until a few years back, women in advertisements were captivated and drawn towards men by the smell of their cologne, now they also flock towards them due to the whitened skin. The fixation with fair skin shades reveals the hidden racism and colourism in the minds of people and how it is affecting the masses into living by the beauty norms. A fairness cream ad read, ‘Real fairness for real men’ which indicates how low we’ve stooped in the sense that we’re defining the identity of people with regard to how they look.
The advertising brought men’s desire to look good, out in the open. It all started when the nation’s heartthrob, Shah Rukh Khan was first seen sitting in the bathtub filled with rose petals endorsing the women’s favourite, Lux. Then came the famous jingle, ‘Hi handsome, hi handsome’ by Emami that brought in a product specifically for the male skin to look whiter. Since then, fairness is being packaged and sold in tubes by various brands that guarantee success on all fronts just because of the colour of one’s skin. Read that line again and think of the foolery so many are being swayed into.
Apart from the adverse effects on the confidence and self-esteem of those with a dusky complexion, the prolonged use of such chemical-based creams can harm the skin and can result in kidney and liver malfunction as per research. In 2017, the global skin-lightening industry was worth $4.8bn, and it is projected to grow to $8.9bn by 2027, fuelled by a growing middle class in the Asia-Pacific region. These huge numbers indicate the deep-rooted inclination towards the standards of beauty and attractiveness.
We need to look beyond what is visible. The message of the specific notions of beauty have been propagated over generations and need to be questioned.
We are distinct human beings and more than anything else represent diversification, in and out. Why do we then end up posing threats to what makes us different from the others? More than what we look like, who we are from the inside is what matters. It’s important to feel comfortable in one’s skin.
With many people thrashing these stereotypical standards of beauty by refusing to abide by them, we know that we’re on the right path.
Nevertheless, it’s going to take years to disrupt the corrupt social conditioning that weighs fairness over everything. So, dear men, instead of investing in your complexion invest in your soul and mind. Learn to look through what is visible. Let’s all collectively disregard the preconceived ideas of beauty and come out proudly as who we actually are.
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Saavriti is an intern at SheThePeople.TV. The views expressed are the author’s own.