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All's 'fair' in advertising

Yesterday, this paper carried a debate about how ethical it is for stars to endorse fairness creams. With more fairness creams coming into the market, the birth of the metrosexual male and the increasing tendency to rope in Bollywood stars as brand ambassadors is on the rise.

There are now several stars pushing creams onto aspiring consumers. These creams profess to leave you several shades lighter, take away your tan, and give you glowing skin. In other words they claim to leave you looking fairer -- and in words not spoken -- lovelier, more desirable for a job or a spouse.

A fair complexion is still pushed in Indian society in covert and overt ways. From our matrimonial ads to folklore, lyrics of songs, and dialogues in some movies — all of them reinforce the social stereotype about fairer being better. Stars with their huge followings have rushed to endorse such creams and, in the process, reinforce stereotypes. While one can certainly say that celebrities do have a responsibility to society, it is also realistic to think that not everybody will turn down a lucrative commercial opportunity. It is time to get more discerning about what to believe and what to follow, never mind the media and ad blitzkrieg. Parents can combat this by teaching their young children about how it is wrong to judge and discriminate on colour, and not take these advertisements so seriously.

In fact, the stars themselves when asked about ethics claim that people must make their own judgements about what to follow, so why not take them up on that? After all, we don’t need to emulate or believe everything they do or say. We should be fully aware that while we may idolise them but they are not about monetary considerations, just like other mere mortals are. 

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