Growing up in India, I was conscious of my skin all the time. I would go into my aunt’s makeup bag and steal some of her lightening lotions and apply that to my face before playing outside with friends. I had no idea how bad my obsession with being a fair skin was until I came to America and I went to class wearing a foundation three shades lighter than my skin tone. The worst part now looking back as I have experienced discrimination because of my skin was not being good enough in India. When I was a 4th grader in India, I was chosen to perform a solo traditional dance for an important guest at my school. When the day came, my music teacher changed her mind and chose a classmate that was known for her fair complexion. I remember her saying that I need to work on my skin like the girl she chose because this role should go to a beautiful and presentable girl. She did not mention anything about my ability to dance or perform. At that time, I was young and I did not understand how wrong and cruel it was. I accepted and even blamed myself at that time for not being light enough or pretty enough.
I picked this commercial because it portrays a very similar story of what I went through.
This is an Indian ad for Fair & Lovely, a lotion to make the face lighter and fairer. Even the name of the brand, Fair and lovely are put together to give the idea that being fair skin is lovelier.
In this commercial, two Indian guys auditions for a motorcycle stunt. The first guy does the stunt with the helmet on and the director disapproves. The second again with the helmet on does the same stunt on the motorcycle, but this time everyone cheers on for him. The only difference between the first and the second guy is that the second guy has a fairer complexion as the first guy has a darker complexion. Frustrated, the first guy tries out the product Fair & Lovely, and automatically his skin becomes lighter than his opponent. He performs the same stunt the following day and he is applauded and loved by his castmates and director. He even gets the job and becomes a celebrity where the second guy watches him with an envy eye from the side having not as light skin as him.
This is an old ad, but you can imagine the kind of message this sends out to the audience. It had nothing to do with their ability to perform or their skills but everything to do with superficial reasons. It sends out the message that people who have lighter skin tone are more likely to win or get the job while the dark complexion people will be the ones losing and sitting on the side.