Obsession for fairer complexion in the sub-continent

7 July 2016

Objective It is being observed that the obsession for fair skin is increasing among both male and female. Though in our country, most of the people are brown-skinned, they prefer fair skinned people while they chose partners. Black is always considered evil in our country. So, dark people often become the victim of various superstitions. Dark girls find it difficult to get married. Previously women were concerned about getting a fair skin. Now-a-days men are also trying to make their skin some shades lighter. My objective was to determine the reasons behind this obsession as fair skin is not the only pre-requisite of being attractive.

Hypothesis None could define beauty perfectly. It is not dependent on anything. Flowers are found in different colors. All flowers are beautiful. The beauty of a shiny clear sky charms us. We also get mesmerized to see the dark sky with glittering stars at night. Everything around us that makes us pleased is beautiful. Even the smile of a child who does not have any teeth can give us enormous pleasure as it has a beauty of its own. In our country we stereotype attractiveness and beauty according to skin color most of the time.

Obsession for fairer complexion in the sub-continent Essay Example

Though, in this sub-continent, people relate beauty with fair skin, fair skin is not the only determinant of attractiveness. Methodology Both primary and secondary data has been used in this research. Questionnaires were used to determine the expectations and interest of the students at North South University. A randomly selected sample of 25 students received the questionnaire and 100 percent returns of questionnaire were achieved. Of the respondents, 60 percent were male and 40 percent were female. Among them 23 students were aged between eighteen to twenty-five years of age.

Only two students were found in the age range of twenty-six to thirty years of age. For secondary data, I have gathered supporting data from different online magazines, journals, printed journals, magazines etc. Introduction In this era of globalization, world has become a global village. Every moment we are competing with each other to make our own stand. Whole world has become our battle field. All the time people look for a reason to stand aside from the crowd and establish a distinct identity. It is truer in a highly populous country like Bangladesh. People go all the way to shine like a glittering star among all other people.

People compete each other to achieve their goal in this race of life. People now know only doing their best is not enough. We need to think of others who are in the same race. Since childhood we are aware that western people has greater grip in science, literature, business, education etc. Middle class people of sub-continent try their best to educate their children so that they can nail English language and achieve the supremacy which is already achieved by English speaking white people. Since childhood, we are grown up with the stories of foreign heroes like Albert Einstein, Shakespeare and take them as role models in our mind.

We do not realize we get obsessed with every aspects of their life. Though we are not born with it we try to adopt everything which we think will take us to their level. Big corporations know human psychology well. They try to capitalize every opportunity of making money. They try to make money even playing with human emotions. Big corporations sometimes use media to turn things around them. Corporations are fueling our enormous desire of being singled out from the crowd by propagating that if we are fair skinned we will get better life partner, desired job, money , luxury , confidence, recognition etc.

Media has got greater control in human mind in this new era of technology. Media creates and redefines human perception about good or bad, beautiful or ugly etc. Youngsters are agents of change. A youngster always like change and they are quickly adaptable to change . Media sometimes uses to take this attitude of youngsters as a weapon to gain a certain corporate motive. Young generation of this subcontinent always admire western lifestyle and products. Big corporations are trying to capitalize this obsession even by changing concept about human attractiveness.

Though fair skin is not equivalent to good look, obsession for fairer skin is increasing among both men and women in this subcontinent. Root of Obsession for being fair There are historical, political and geographic reasons behind the obsession for fair skin in the sub-continent. Jayaprakash (2008) noted that Obsession with fair skin is probably a hangover from the British Rule. The white skinned people tried to ingrain in our mind that they are superior to others and much of the colonization happened in this premise. As Indian history has had a succession of fair-skinned invaders from the north pushing darker-skinned people southwards.

Fair skin is therefore associated with power and success. Ahmed (2006) remarked that it is ingrained in colonized culture that fair-skin is civilized and good, and natives or indigenous peoples are dark, uncivilized and dangerous. Ahmed (2006) added that many of the gods that are portrayed as blue-skinned in Hindu religion were originally Dravidians and as the colonizers/Aryans spoke of the darker Dravidians as being ugly, making their gods blue was a way of coding the dark skin, in a manner that still made them acceptable as gods.

People associate historical economic status with skin color in this sub-continent. Dark skin is associated with labour and field work in the sun, and fair skin with wealth, aristocracy and higher education. Femininity and class have interacted to produce the ideas of fair as beautiful. Fair was considered beautiful because it indicates women belong to rich family and didn’t work outside to do manual labour and stayed inside, and it was only peasants (chasha-bhusha) who worked out in the sun, and got dark. (Ahmed, 2006) Our culture is influencing our obsession for fair skin.

The idea that fair is lovely is easier to unpack if we phrase its opposite, namely that to be dark is considered ugly. Culturally dark is considered malevolent and evil. The fairness of skin is a yardstick of purity and innocence. In Bangladesh, fair (or pink-complexioned) women as heroines variously cast in roles of virtuous wife, virginal bride, loving mother or sister etc. Women belonging to the pantheon of Bengali folk myths when visually represented are also fair-skinned. (Ahmed, 2006) These complexion-based rifts were further emphasized through religion.

Hindu mythology, for example, depicts heroic tales of fair-skinned benevolent gods, such as Ram and Shiva, fighting the darker-skinned devils and demons, analogous to the Aryan versus Dravidian battle. Religious stories, such as that of Lord Shiva ridiculing his wife, Goddess Parvati, for her dark-skin color, remain part of the religious literature: One day the god Shiva teased his wife, the goddess Parvati, about her dark skin; he calledher “Blackie” (Kali) and said that her dark body against his white body was like a black snake coiled around a pale sandalwood tree.

When she responded angrily, they began to argue and to hurl insults at one another. Furious, she went away to generate inner heat in order to obtain a fair, golden, skin. (Padma Purana, Hindu religious text) In Quran it is said that “We shall marry them (believers) to Hooris (female fair ones) with wide, lovely eyes” (Al- Dukhan 44:54) One could argue that these scriptures were not meant to promote racism based on skin color, but nevertheless they have created stereotypes in the minds of the readers and followers-stereotype that have lingered for generations. Fair Skin and Marriage

“Looking for a slim, homely and fair girl for our son” – that is usually how most matrimonial ads read, the stress being on the word “fair”. Many say it is proof of our obsession with a person’s skin color (“Indian Obsession”, 2009). Most women is concerned about good marriage but in rural areas dark women are usually married off to someone much older or the girl’s side need to offer a higher dowry than usual to make up their darkness. Mothers become anxious when their baby girls turn out to be dark as this puts their daughters at a disadvantage in the “marriage market”.

Many young women are rejected and humiliated when they are checked out by the prospective groom and his relatives because of dark complexion. Would-be mothers-in-law crave for fair-skinned brides for their sons and men of all ages prefer lighter-skinned partners. As a result, women from all socio-economic backgrounds go to unbelievable lengths to become just a little whiter. Now-a-days even young girls are conscious about not getting tanned in the sun. In our country bridal make-ups are done in way so that the bride look lighter skinned on their wedding day so that they are praised and appreciated on the big day.

(Islam, 2005) Fair Consciousness among Male Aspiration for lighter complexion is considered the prerogative of women. This perception is no longer valid. In recent years educated, affluent men or men with well-paid jobs have emerged as a group that seeks to improve what nature has endowed them. A number of exclusive salons for men in Dhaka testify that in the race for beauty men are not lagging far behind. Though the trend is a recent one, the number of men visiting beauty salons is certainly on the increase.

(Khan & Zaman, 2006) Islam, Ahmed, Karim & Amin (2006) said that Beauty salons for men are springing up offering a wide range of treatments, among them those that promise to lighten the skin. Thus it is not a strange thing to see men slathered with ‘fair polish’ or bleaching creams braving it out on the reclining chair in the hope of a fairer complexion. What’s more, there’s a new product in the market called ‘Fair and Handsome’ that promises to make a man a few shades lighter over several weeks of use.

It seems the standard of ‘tall, dark and handsome’ doesn’t conform to the South Asian ideal anymore. Asian men no longer believe that fairness is only for women. Now-a-days Asian men want a skin tone which is very close to fair. Fairness cream for men is highly being promoted in the market. Indian men, as well as their counterparts in other Asian countries, including Korea and Japan are turning to fairness cream. According to trade analysts, men’s fairness products are valued at Rs 30 million, and constitute 35 percent of the market. (“Fairness Cream”, n.

d) “And so women, and, actually, even many men (32 percent of consumers of fairness creams in India, apparently), make the sun their worst enemy and go in search of their true complexion (usually brought out in four to six weeks) in tubes and sachets and pots and packs, generally costing between Tk 6 and Tk 50. ” (Islam, 2005) Advertising via celebrity endorsements for skin-whitening products has had profound influence in making fairness creams popular among men. Sportsperson like Tamim Iqbal, Shahid Afridi are also endorsing Fair & Lovely-Men’s active.

They claim this product saves their skin from getting dark while they play in the sun. Shevde (2008) said that Shah Rukh Khan has been signed on as the new brand ambassador for the recently launched male beauty cream Fair & Handsome. This has resulted in a mass following for the product based on the deadly combination of Khan’s appeal as a Bollywood personality and his ratification of the fairness cream as an element of his success. This product has had astounding success, even though there are strong taboos against Indian men using cosmetics creams for beautification purposes.

Khan & Zaman (2006) claimed that in a globalised culture looks are a serious matter. Good look is one of the criteria of getting a good job especially in multinational companies. However, good looks are not only important for social acceptance but also for self-esteem which is deeply attached to it. How one wants to project oneself in the society is something that is very important and it is eternally tied to the ability to take care of one’s appearance. A well-groomed look certainly goes to bolster one’s confidence.

Corporations and Media In South Asia the preference for fair skin has been exploited by the manufacturers of fairness creams. International cosmetics giants were the initial manufacturer. However, now-a-days local companies are also producing fairness creams. Fairness creams have been estimated to account for up to 40% of the profits of the cosmetics industry. (Shankar, Giri & Palaian, 2006) The emergence of a paler global entertainment industry has served as a stimulus to the marketing of an international beauty ideal.

Beauty pageant winners are usually extraordinarily tall and breathtakingly slim, have light honey-colored skin, and peddle Western ideals of beauty. Fairness cream manufacturers sponsor beauty pageants and carry out an advertising blitz in the print and audiovisual media. (Shankar, Giri & Palaian, 2006) Shankar et al. (2006) observed that Fairness cream manufacturers have exploited the preference for fair skin as they have portrayed it as a necessary prerequisite for success in all aspects of life starting from career to relationship and promoted the use of their product to achieve the ideal.

Many leading manufacturers have expanded their range to include fairness lotions, cold creams, and soaps and creating hype about their product. Islam et al (2006) concluded that, in mid and late 1990, fairness product ads, while still maintaining the husband-catching function, also began to focus on things like self-confidence, success and prosperity which will be brought by fairness. Women are showed to become more confident as their beauty open doors to success. A controversial ad was multinational company Unilever’s Fair and Lovely’s “airhostess ad”.

This ad shows a father unable to afford tea with his sole pension. He sighs, longing for a “support” (He actually longed for a son). His dark-skinned daughter, realizing her inferiority and incapacity in providing this, becomes determined to be an airhostess and does so by using the fairness cream and then takes her father to a posh hotel for coffee. Some television ads show that a dark-skinned woman who is maintaining the Fair & Lovely skin-whitening routine before the arrival of a prospective groom can instantly make him fall in love with her due to the radiant glow on her

newly beautified face. Some ads depict the benefits of having lighter skin in the professional beauty industry. These ads are determined to give this message that if one buys the fairness product can make her family proud, look beautiful, and secure a wonderful husband-all of which are considered to be vital determinants of a woman’s happiness in the highly patriarchal and male-dominated society. Oddly, the current brand Proposition for the cream—”Fair and Lovely: The Power of Beauty”—implies a more modern message about choice and economic empowerment. (Shevde, 2008) Islam (2005) said that

For ages, we’ve been taught and we’ve taught that fair means beautiful, and with outer beauty comes every other success in life. In the modern day and age, businesses pick up on this obsession, advertise like mad to create demand lest we stray from our inherent beliefs, and provide us with just what we want and desperately need. And, for most of us, who just want to look like everyone else, this is fine. Who are we to want diversity, to challenge the stereotyped, i. e. , accepted notions of beauty and glamour and success and set our own standards and trends? Fairness Cream and Skin Disease

Scientists say that brown skin is better as it can protect itself more from ultra violet ray as it has more melanin. The chemical that are used in fairness products are harmful and may lead to skin cancer at it destroys the protective melanin of the skin. Islam et al (2006) reported that Dermatologists claim that there is no such thing as a fairness cream, certainly not without using skin-bleaching agents such as hydroquinone, steroids, mercury salts, and a number of other ingredients including bismuth subnitrate, hydrogen peroxide, magnesium peroxide and zinc peroxide.

All of these ingredients, says Prof ABM Faroque, Chair, Department of Pharmaceutical Technology, University of Dhaka, can cause, among more serious health hazards, nephrotoxicity, mercury toxicity and serious allergic reactions. Nephrotoxicity refers to irritation to nephrons in the kidney, causing kidney damage. Mercury toxicity includes effects like metallic taste, increased thirst, abdominal pain, bloody diarrhoea, nephritis, decreased flow of urine, colitis or constipation, tremors, anaemia, and skin problems. Mercury has adverse effects on the developing brain of a fetus.

Survey Findings I conducted a survey among 25 students of North South University. Most of respondents were of age in between 18-30. Among our respondents 15 students were male and 10 students were female. They gave their opinion for various questions. Among the 25 students 40% people reported that they are extremely satisfied with their own complexion. 12% said they are not satisfied and 48% said they want to be fairer. Among my respondents 80% said people need not be fair skinned to be beautiful or handsome. However, 20% believes a person need to be fair skinned to be beautiful or handsome.

Among the respondents 56% said they do not have any preference for a particular skin-tone while choosing partners. However, 44% of them said skin tone maters to them while choosing partner. Among the respondents , 24% said they never edit photo to look fairer before uploading it on social networking sites. 32% of them said they all the time edit photo before uploading it. Another 16% said they sometimes edit photo and 28% said they edit photo most of the times. Among our respondents 50% said they use make-up or do facial before going to parties.

Another 50% reported they do these activities sometimes. People who reported their affirmation for these activities were women. Among 25 respondents, 11 reported that fair skin sometimes can make a person more confident. 8 persons said all of the time fair skin can give confident. Another one person reported it stimulates confidence most of the time. Among our respondents 12 agreed that fair skinned people get attention very easily. Seven people reported sometimes it helps to get attention whereas another four persons said i helps most of the time. Only one person said it does not help at all.

Among our respondents 10 people said that skin tone sometimes play a role in career success. However, eight persons totally disagreed that. Three persons informed fair skin can play a role most of the time. Three respondents said that fair skin has an enormous contribution to career success all the time. 35% of the respondents reported that fair skinned people enjoy better marriage proposals all the time. 23% said it happens most of the times and another 15 % reported sometimes it may happen. However, the rest 27% people completely denied the link among fair skin and relationship etc.

Alarmingly 68% of the respondents believe that now-a-days people are more attracted to physical features. They do not pay attention to inner qualities. While choosing partner they give highest preference in the physical attribute of the partner. In the open-ended question, I asked the respondents to specify the physical attributes that they want in their partner. Most of them said they do not have any preference. They crave for beautiful minds. However, some respondents have bias for certain physical features. Tousif, another student said that “I want my wife to be fair”.

Mushfekun Nahar said, “I like tall and slim guy”. Limitations I faced lots of limitation during our preparation of this report and they are : Word limit: In this report we have certain word limit, so it is not possible to focus on each and every topic in details within this word limit. Limitation of time: Time was a big barrier for me as I had to collect information then had to analyze it and finally had to prepare information based on that information. The collecting information was in primary basis so it was also hard to have selected people.

Moreover, North South Students is not a perfect representation of the overall population of the country. I have found only people of only a certain age group and economic class. Young people may lie as well to prove them more progressive. Conclusion From the survey, it can be concluded that North South University students have mixed feelings for complexion. However, this does not prove that obsession for fair skin is not increasing in the sub-continent and people are now no longer preference for marrying fair partner.

A fair-skinned person is considered attractive regardless of whether that person has a symmetrical face or a healthy figure. People who would not be considered attractive in the United States are considered beautiful in the sub-continent because of their light skin. Some who are considered unattractive because of darker skin would be considered attractive in countries outside of this subcontinent whereas, many fair-skinned Americans and Europeans use tanning salons and fake cream to darken their skin . It indicates complexion cannot be the yardstick of good looks and attractiveness.

There is no logic to conclude that fair and beauty go hand in hand. However, people should be judged by their inner beauty, not by appearance. References Fairness cream (n. d). Retrieved from http://www. copperwiki. org/index. php/Fairness_CreamIslam, K. (2005, February, 4). The fair factor. Star Weekend Magazine, 4(32) Retrieved from http://www. thedailystar. net Islam, K. , Ahmed, H. , Karim, E. , Amin, A. (2006, May, 12). Fair factor. Star Weekend Magazine, 5(94) Retrieved from http://www. thedailystar. net Jayaprakash (2008, March 14).

Fair skin obsession in India [Electronic mailing list message]. Retrieved from http://www. window2india. com/cms/admin/article. jsp? aid=680 Khan, I. , Zaman, M. (2006, July, 21). Male grooming. Star Weekend Magazine, 5(104) Retrieved from http://www. thedailystar. net Ray,S. (n. d), Does fair mean Beautiful? Retrieved from http://worldhaveyoursay. wordpress. com/2010/03/24/does-fair- mean-beautiful/ Shankar, P. , Giri, B. , Palaian, S. (2006) Fairness creams in South Asia— A case of disease mongering? PLoS Med 3(7): e315. DOI: 10.

1371/journal. pmed. 0030315 Shevde, N. (2008) All’s Fair in Love and Cream: A Cultural Case Study of Fair & Lovely in India. Advertising & Society Review, 9(2) The Indian obsession with fair skin. (2009). Retrieved from http://articles. timesofindia. indiatimes. com/2009-10- 01/beauty/28105867_1_skin-colour-fair-skin-obsession Appendix-A QUESTIONNAIRE This survey is intended to know why the obsession for fair skin in increasing in the subcontinent. The findings will be used in a research. Please tick the answer which seems appropriate to you.

Name: Gender: Male / Female Age: a. 18-25 b. 26-30 c. 31-35 d. 35 and above Occupation: Relationship Status: a. Single b. Married c. Engaged d. In a relationship 1. How do you define your complexion? a. I am dark b. I am fair. c. I am yellow skinned. d. Others. 2. Are you satisfied with your complexion? a. I am extremely satisfied of my complexion. b. I am not satisfied with my complexion. c. I want fairer skin. d. I want darker skin. 3. Do you think people need to be fair to be beautiful/handsome? a. Yes b. Sometimes c. Not necessarily 4.

Do you think skin complexion is a matter of concern for you when you will chose boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife? a. Always b. Sometimes it matters c. Never d. Rarely 5. Do you use skin lightening product? a. Always b. Never c. I don’t use but I want to use d. Sometimes I use. 6. Do you go to beauty salon regularly to take care of your skin? a. Always b. Never c. I don’t go but I want to go d. Often 7. Do you edit your photos in Photoshop/Picasa and make your skin lighter before uploading it on social networks (Facebook, Tweeter etc. )? a. Always b. Never c. Most of the times. d.

Sometimes. 8. When you go out for a party (birthday, wedding etc) ,do you use make up (or do facial ) so that you look fairer? a. Yes b. No c. Most of the times. d. Sometimes. 9. Why Do you think fairer skin can give you more confident? a. Because I feel good b. People find me good c. Don’t have any idea d. Others_ 10. Do you think skin tone has an important role to play in career success? a. Yes b. No c. Most of the times d. Sometimes 11. Have you ever experienced that people are getting better grades, job prospects and better married life for their attractive Physical features?

a. Yes b. No c. Most of the times d. Sometimes 12. Do you believe now-a-days it is equally important to have good physical features along with intelligence and personal qualifications? a. Yes b. No c. Most of the times d. Sometimes 13. Have you ever got dumped, refused , rejected or were ridiculed for your skin colour? a. Yes b. No c. others_ d. Refused to answer. 14. What do you want in your girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband? (If you have any preference for any physical attribute like being fair, tall, skinny etc. ) (Tell me your fantasies)

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