Indians have a racist streak in them. They all like fair people.
First there was a demand for fair girls. Now, the advertisement industry features girls who are so pale that they would give Bella of 'Twilight' a run for her money. They not only look so fair that they reflect sunlight, they don't even look as if they are from the Indian subcontinent. Neither with their golden brown skin, dark eyes and dark hair, nor with their size zero figures (that is a rant I have already gone on, so I shall spare me the trouble here again).
Then came a controversial whitening cream for 'those' regions. Now, it seems that even dark men cannot get good wives. Even the men who could do anything before, (despite their skin colour), are now struggling with 'womanly' problems like dark, dull skin and colognes that evaporate too quickly.
One of the problems Hrithik seems to have set out to solve. The superhero of India, Hrithik 'Kkrish' Roshan has been roped in by Emami to be the 'fair and handsome' face of the brand. Because obviously stars don't go to expensive skin treatment clinics to make their faces camera ready, they resort to cheap gimmicky fairness creams for their dermal needs. Or so we are being made to believe.
Now, the fair skinned Jr Roshan is going to attribute his success to a skin whitening face wash that leaves him glowing and fresh after a dusty day in the studios. I wonder if his assistants are going to be offended by this - since his well-groomed look is the combined hard work of his nutritionist, make-up men/women, gym trainer, and the designers who dress him up in his suave style.
First, it was the 90s boy-next-door turned king Shah Rukh Khan telling the boys how his natural charm was a waste compared to the super powers of skin-whitening cream. Now, here is Hrithik on the verge of saying that women all over the world swoon over him not for his style and poshness, but more for his fair skin. His otherwise dull face till now has only managed a million fans – now his 'renewed brightness' is going to put Sirius (the brightest star in the sky) to shame.
Why do stars have to do this? Why do they endorse products that should have been banned decades ago? Why encourage this blatant racism and negative body image? He surely does not lack product endorsement offers. Why not take the high road like Kangna Ranaut or Ranbir Kapoor?
We in the subcontinent already face so much insecurity, added to this has come the pressure of being fair. The fans of these stars worship the ground they walk on and they just help the big companies capitalise on this gullibility. Being fair in a country that already faces so much bias is being encouraged by these stars, despite there being countless stories of how such products are actually harmful for the skin. What is unfortunate is that the country ends up consuming products that have chemicals like hydroquinone, mercury, unprescribed steroids, bleaching agents which will not make you fair but only expose you to skin diseases and rashes.
This kind of irresponsible advertisement plays on our insecurities and only increases societal pressures on young men and women who idolise these big screen heroes/heroines. More and more men and women are under pressure to use these products as the markets are flooded with them. Not only that, this adds to the underplaying discrimination that the country is plagued with.
These stars have no excuse today to not know the repercussions of the role these products play in the society. That being said, Hrithik is a star for whom endorsements are easy. But backing a fairness product may just be the low that his fans never expected him to get down to.
Coming from Hrithik who has been a strong supporter of good health and keeps posting about body work-outs and fitness, this is just sad. I wish he did stand up against this vile discrimination instead of joining in it.
Today, I lost respect for a man I always thought was great because of who he is. And not because of the colour of his skin!
This article was first published on Zeenews.com