The ‘Get Fairer’ Syndrome
With new innovations, the skin whitening industry is growing by leaps and bounds. Creams promise a fairer you in weeks, but beware there is a dark side to it too...
Endless advertisements show that fair girls have it easy: both personally and professionally. These advertisements are slowly getting ingrained into our minds. Imagine the horror when I heard a five-year-old tell her dusky friend, you better start using fair and lovely or we won’t play together!
Asians have always been obsessed with fairer skin but the craze seems to be spiraling out of control. And if women were not enough, men too have joined the bandwagon. Bleaches, fairness creams, serums, there is a plethora of options that promise a fairer you within weeks.
But Why is Fairness an Asian Obsession?
The quest for fairer skin comes from deep-seeded inferiority complex that we Asians suffer from. This could also be a reflection of our colonial past when the fair-skinned Britishers ruled us. To emulate their power, began a system of copying them, their dress sense, language, food, etc. Many believed, if they were also fair complexioned, things would get easier. This desire for power and authority stemmed the craze for fairer skin.
Look at any matrimonial columns; the first thing that most people want is a fair bride. This puts a lot of pressure on young girls. In many families, it is the parents and relatives who stress on using these creams. They too believe that fair skin will help grab a better marriage partner.
Star endorsements only add fuel to the fire. When film stars endorse a product with flawless make-up and lightened skin most people get trapped. And spending money on beauty creams and bleaches seems valid. Today the market for these creams is gigantic. Reportedly, the market share for these creams in the last fiscal year was a boggling Rs 2 thousand crore.
The Dark Effects
However, what we all tend to overlook in this paranoia for fair skin are the possible side effects. When 25-year-old, Ashima Khanna used a popular and highly advertised brand of fairness cream, she ended up with burns and cystic acne. “It was horrible. Instead of the promised fairness, all I got was burns, acne scars and horrible skin. I paid a bomb to the dermatologist for getting it cleared up,” recalls Ashima.
According to recent studies, the side effects of fairness creams can get worse. Creams contain bleaching agents for fairness. And regular bleaching leads to thinning of skin. When this damaged skin is exposed to sunlight, photosensitive reactions take place. Sunburns, blisters, burning sensation, eczema are some dermatological problems you might face. Long-term problems can be cancer, kidney issues, and permanently disfigured skin.
Change is Starting
Amidst all the madness for fair skin, there seems to be a ray of hope with markets witnessing a slow shift in paradigm. This summer, many beauty brands introduced bronzers and skin tanners. It was a forbidden territory in India till now, but there is definitely a minute market that is opening up.
Moreover, on realising the adverse effects of fairness creams, people are shifting over to ayurvedic and eco-friendly options. Financial freedom is also giving many the chance to consult dermatologist and get expensive treatments.
When celebrities like Chitrangada refuse to endorse fairness creams and embrace her dusky complexion with confidence, people relate to her. The emotional and psychological pain of fairer skin to ‘fit in’ is too much. Our country idolizes fair skinned celebrities; they forget the immortal classic beauties like Smita Patil.
People get chemical peels, removals, creams bleaches et all. But they forget that beautiful skin is any day better over burnt, patchy or pigmented one. Good skin and confidence is all that you need to look pretty. Think twice before spending a fortune over fair skin- it's all about embracing your color!
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