Fair & Lovely, Shaadi.com, and other brands have decided to remove words like ‘fairness’ and ‘whitening’ from their marketing approach.
The world is gradually opening its eyes towards a culture that is primarily defined by skin color. And thus, the voices against racism is getting louder and louder.
The insensitive killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by the hands of a white policeman, has raged the public all over the world. #BlackLivesMatter has revived the need to end racism and colorism.
This wave has stoked the debate on selling points and advertising strategies used by various brands. More often, words such as ‘fairness’ and ‘whitening skin’ are employed by companies to sell their beauty and cosmetics products.
There is an increasing worldwide consensus to put off conversations that promote racial discrimination. Social media has empowered people to speak up against conventional notions of skin color. The anti-racism movement also witnessed public criticizing beauty brands to give up on the ideas of fairness and whitening.
Fair & Lovely
Fair & Lovely is a skincare product owned by Hindustan Unilever Limited (HUL), an Indian subsidiary of Unilever PLC. The advertisements for Fair & Lovely usually play around the idea of a dark-toned woman deprived of all the opportunities. By applying the product, she becomes fair and prosperous. Thus, flaunting the concept of fair skin people always getting what they desire.
On much opposition faced by its audience, Hindustan Unilever took a corrective step this week. It decided to scrap ‘Fair’ from Fair & Lovely, the skin lightening product. The move was admired by various Bollywood figures such as actor Nandita Das, actor Sonali Kulkarni, director Onir, etc.
L’Oréal, a French personal care company, is the largest beauty brand in the world. The marketing of its various products did focus on terms like ‘Lightening’ that people are now finding offensive. Consumers posed some severe questions on social media about changing the stigma related to skin color.
L’Oréal made a statement showing concerns overusing the words ‘fair’, ‘lightening’ and ‘whitening.’ It will drop the tags of fairness and whitening from its USP ( Unique Selling Point).
Top matrimonial website Shaadi.com faced criticism on its complexion filter after a petition was filed against it. Shaadi.com is India’s leading website for finding a spouse. It offers a color filter to choose a potential partner based on it.
The petition was filed on change.org by US-based Hetal Lakhani. She wrote in her online petition, ” the obsession with fair skin is still notorious within South Asian communities.” Another woman, Meghan Nagpal, posted on her Facebook where she is asking the company to ditch the skin filter.
Shaadi.com responded by deleting the filter. It also made a statement saying, ” the filter was not serving the purpose.”
Johnson and Johnson
Johnson and Johnson is an American MNC selling medical and cosmetics products all over the globe. Its skin whitening products received much disapproval. Under tremendous pressure, Johnson and Johnson announced that they would no longer sell their skin whitening products in Asia.
The company was about to launch its Neutrogena Fine Fairness line in Asia and the Middle East. But after getting many questions on using racist comments in its advertising approach, Johnson and Johnson decided to put off the new product. The popular product Clean and Care will also come out of the shelves in Asian countries.