Impenetrating the thick polluted air and an ever increasing wave of traffic, I reached office 20 minutes late on my bike. It was usual for me. So usual that I started lying to myself that it is the unprecedented yet regular traffic jams that cause the delay in my arrival at office almost everyday. Oh, I can be a late riser on most of my days, but a will to do yoga and meditation in the morning has been waking me up early in the morning for over a month. I get up early, do yoga, and meditate on several good and bad past memories. It is a good exercise to keep the fluid flowing in your brain. See your memories unfold in your brain and no sight will ever be able to match the beauty and the emotions it brings to you!

It was usual in office with everyone already on their seats when I found my way inside. I washed my face with fresh water; the dust on roads can be irritating in summers, and occupied my usual place in front of my office computer.

Everyone in office was having breakfast on a centrally placed small circular table. We have a small team of exceptional individuals and I truly enjoy their company. Kim had brought Pau Bhaji and each one of us darted towards it as if it was the end of the world. We ignored every other dish on the breakfast table and helped Kim finish the Pau Bhaji first, though she never wanted our help, yet she never refused it.

“Did you watch the recent Kangana movie?” she asked me. “Tanu weds Manu Returns?” I inquired. “Oh, yes! That awesome flick. She was marvelous. Oh, she is the queen. She is the Lady Khan of Bollywood. She acted brilliantly. And the movie is so fun. You will keep rolling on the floor. You will have to laugh until your stomach hurts of intense pain, and your cheeks wouldn’t inflate more. You should watch it, if you haven’t watched it already with your kinky girlfriend!” Kim explained.

“Dude, Easy! She is my girlfriend and I find her beautiful and gorgeous. She is graceful, has a glow on her face without smearing it with fairness creams like most woman do all the time!” I blabbered showing resentment for her unwanted comment on my girlfriend being kinky.

“Really? I already have a fair complexion. I don’t put on fairness creams!” she reacted reflexively almost out of vexation at the indecent accusation on most women, somehow she felt it was directed at her, but it wasn’t.

“Okay, I was kidding! Don’t take it personally. I didn’t mean it that way. But I seriously want to know your opinion on the use of fairness creams. Do you think using fairness products is racist? I seriously believe we need to be more mature and stop running in to make our skin more fairer. I don’t know where did that trend come from. Anglicans? Yeah, Britishers chale gaye but ek superiority complex chod gaye!” I shrugged.

“Don’t you think Indians need to look up at themselves first, to be able to have that image in the world arena. I mean we want to be a superpower, Modi is trying so hard at it, but we don’t even regard our skin color as beautiful. Funny. Isn’t it? We all want to look fair, and why? Of course, we treat fairness a more important trait in humans than intelligence. Philistines! Parents looks for a “fair” bride while selecting the best woman in the world for their princes. Even girls want fairer boyfriends with a trend for shady rough beards. These trends for fairness are threatening, man! Advertisements never say “Keep your facial skin fresh and let it radiate flower-like softness and scent throughout the day by using our cream or face wash!”. Rather they always say, “Get a fairer skin within 10 days by using our cream daily!” I wonder if they really make you a cent more fairer.” I took it all out, what was rumbling and bumbling inside my mind since I read that morning article in Hindustan Times after the well applauded decision taken by Kangana Ranaut to not promote fairness creams because her sister has a dusky complexion, and it would be an insult to her if she advertises for a fairness cream.

“Of course, they use the sentiments of the middle class population by letting girls see dreams of becoming more fairer to get a more suitable hand in coming marriage proposals, lessening the demands of lofty dowry, and reducing the irrational pressure put on by relatives to become more gori. It is seriously rubbish! And I don’t use fairness creams, for your information. I use refreshing creams, and the creams that left a scent for the entire day, the feel-good creams. Please note that!” Kim put forward her stand on fairness products and justified her using creams, which are not to become more gori.

Various advertisements of fairness creams in India.

Various advertisements of fairness creams in India.

We didn’t talk much over the issue for the rest of day, because I really vexed Kim on the topic, thus we resumed our busy schedule in office. But after the evening tea and cigarette session, I noticed Sartaz putting on Garnier Men Power Light Intensive Fairness moisturizer in washroom. I was shocked at once! But then, I realized it is a societal stigma and a common superior perception about fairer individuals that make us crave for the expected-and-required fairness on our face. It is not just about women using fairness creams, it is about each one of us, men or women, who want to look fairer like that one colleague in your office, who want to become what they are not, and who look down on their own skin colors.

Most of us want to get appreciated by others for having a fairer skin and it is this trend of appreciating a fairer skin in society which causes much problem.

Perhaps, before putting the entire blame on marketing and advertising agencies, we need to look into our societal trends. People often get appreciated in society for having a fairer skin. But is it fair? Is a fairer skin a better skin? Is a brown or yellow skin not equally good or attractive? I condemn everyone who appreciates their colleagues at offices, siblings at family functions, friends at parties, and even a relatively non familiar acquaintance at a mall or subway, or a friend’s house, or at your own house, for having a fairer skin. It is unfair to all those who don’t have a fair skin. It is unfair to us, it is unfair to the notion of equality.

The question here is simple. Would your skin look better if you would be more fairer? Or would your skin look more beautiful, graceful, and glistening if it is clean? You don’t need to put on fairness cream to look better, you only need to keep your skin clean and full of glow to have anyone appreciate you. For once and all, let us remove the skin shade charts fixed on the sides of long vertical mirrors in your bedroom. Let us appreciate our skin color for what it is, do not demand gori skin in marriage, and treat everyone equally.

Skin Tone charts that come with many fairness creams.

Skin Tone charts that come with many fairness creams.

India is one of the largest market for fairness creams. Until we don’t bring in change in our perception of our own self, fairness creams will never leave marketplace, rather will do better with more rural uneducated class becoming middle class day by day. I hope I am contributing in changing this social stigma by writing this article on the the unfair use of fake fairness creams in our society. Please contribute by discussing about this topic among your family, friends, and colleagues. The change won’t come suddenly but in small steps, within many years. Main point is we don’t have to stop yearning for change.

How do you feel about this?