Leave fairness creams in the dark ages

Aug 13, 2018, 07:40 IST | mid-day correspondent

Dysmorphophobia or negative body image, which is a psychological condition, is not something you want them to inherit

Leave fairness creams in the dark ages

India's obsession with fair skin is legendary. And, thanks to it, the multi-billion dollar fairness cream industry is laughing all the way to the bank. Yesterday's report in the Sunday mid-day highlighted the research by Tata Institute of Social Science on the worrying trend that has only picked up pace over the years. The report states that 59.6% of women and 46.1% of men surveyed had used fairness creams at some point in their lives. Even sadder is that the 63% were in the age group 18 to 24.

A report released in June 2017 by the research firm Global Industry Analysts had pegged spending on skin lightening across the world at $31.2 billion by 2024. Why this obsession with skin colour? Children as young as six are forced to rub household condiments into their tender skin in the hope of defying genetics. Fair skin is perceived as an advantage in a cut-throat job industry or in the marriage market. Check the matrimonial ads anywhere and fair skin is one of the most-wanted criteria for a 'good match'.

Two years ago, a ban fairness cream ads was debated in Parliament, with lawmakers insisting that these creams were degrading to women. But, these days, the creams are even targeted at men, promising better career prospects or popularity with women, an idea largely enforced by celebrity endorsements.

What isn't discussed is the veracity of these claims. While the creams can probably help reduce a tan and prevent it from getting darker, it is impossible for them to change one's natural skin colour. For those of us using these creams, let us be aware of the impact on our children who see us using them. Dysmorphophobia or negative body image, which is a psychological condition, is not something you want them to inherit.

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