Mirror, mirror on the wall, who in the land is fairest of all?

Thank You, Blogadda

We have all heard the story of Snow White,havent we? We know how the evil queen resorted to her cunning ways to get rid of Snow White because she wanted to be the fairest of all.

Then there is the story of this poor duckling who was always pecked and kicked by one and all because he was ugly. And as he grew up to be a beautiful white swan, he was accepted by everyone.
It’s strange how,when the duckling was dark and brown, he was thought to be ugly. But the moment he saw his white reflection, he knew he would be considered beautiful by everyone and accepted thence.

For one, I’m not going to tell Namnam this story as I can’t accept the message it conveys. I can’t tell her a tale where she needs to be told, to be accepted one has to look beautiful from the outside.

Anyway, its worth mentioning that fairness has been associated with beauty for ages. And this obsession for having a fair skin has been deep-rooted in many of us even today.

Even today girls are ostracized by our society for their skin colour. She is already made to feel worthless from the day she is born for being a girl. And on top of that, if she has a dark skin, she is made to feel even more so. She is made to believe her life is a waste and happiness will always elude her.

The parents get palpitations when she reaches marriageable age because no one in the right mind will want to marry her. Look at the matrimonial ads that are splashed in the newspapers and websites and you’ll know what I mean. Most of them will be either about seeking alliance for daughters who are ‘tall, fair, slim, etc. etc.’ or sons who prefer fair girls. As though being fair is the ultimate route to happiness.

Talking of ads, there is this particular one, of a fairness cream wherein a makeup-man’s daughter is frustrated that her father has all the knack to make everyone look fair and lovely but her. But one fine day, much to her delight her father gifts her a fairness cream like a magic potion, which is to transform her into a beautiful girl and make her a successful.

Another one wherein a girl, who is dark( obviously), comes home depressed after failing to impress her interviewers. Seeing her lost and dejected, her father, mother or sister (don’t remember who) gives a fairness cream to her…ta-daa… her life is rosy and musical again. She gets an interview with the same company and this time she gets a job! Forget about education, qualification, aptitude! If you have a fairness cream in your house, you’ll be given a job! That seems to be the marketing funda of this product.

I can list down examples of so many such ads. Such ads find a way to our lives because we are still obsessed with getting a fair complexion. Such products get leverage because we continue to associate fairness with success, happiness and beauty. And they succeed in luring us even stronger by getting our favorite icons to endorse for them. What more assurance would we want than be told by our very idols that the sure shot way to be happy is to be fair?

Namnam is yet to understand these ads. But the day is not very far when she will start paying attention to them and probably even get conflicting thoughts like Umm’s daughter O had. Now I cant stop such commercials from being dished out to us neither can I ask those icons to stop endorsing them. But I can surely stop myself from buying those products if I want her to believe that fairness creams cannot make one beautiful. That beauty is much more deep-rooted than that. That it is far more important that she takes care of her skin and protects her skin from rashes, blemishes and harmful things than lose her sleep over thinking how fair she is. That if one is beautiful from the inside, it will show from the outside too. Then, it wont matter one bit that the person is fair or not.

So I discard all the bottles of creams and lotions lying in my closet that have anything remotely ‘fair, white,or shine’ mentioned on them. Here I join Ummon in swearing off these whitening brightening shining products.

How about you? Care to join us?

40 thoughts on “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who in the land is fairest of all?

  1. First?!
    Loved loved the post. Tis true…we always believe beauty is superiority. No wonder then, that all those fairy tales are about ugly people turning beautiful and then being recognized for their inner beauty. Makes me feel so sad, Deeps. I for one, don’t use any make-up whatsoever, and whenever anyone suggests that I do, I immediately ask ‘Why? Don’t I look nice now?’ and then they can’t obviously be rude, so they leave it there! πŸ˜‰ Good good good post!

    D: yes,Pals some of the age old stories dont give out the right messages in my opinion. Neither do these ads πŸ˜€ .
    The point I’m trying to make here is that the key to looking beautiful is not in being fair but in feeling beautiful from inside. As much as it may sound cliche’d that is a fact. no amount of cosmetics can make you look pretty if you harbor mean, hateful thoughts.


  2. thanks. i just feel we have an added resp, as mothers of daughters, not to set too much of bad eg. πŸ™‚

    D: Very true πŸ™‚


  3. Lol, Men always love joining anti-lotion moment (As far as it concerns everybody!).
    Cleanliness should be given more importance over fairness. Cleanliness resides consciousness while beautiful resides a bit of ego. Hope I’m making sense.

    D: ‘Cleanliness should be given more importance over fairness.’ Absolutely!


  4. Gora’s have always caught our imagination havent they… ! I dont use any skin cream no nothing… !!!

    D: And it has been observed the other way round too. People in the west have been obsessed about getting tanned skin. The core issue is the same. Racial discrimination.

    Am not too fair either… but never leave an oppurtunity to call one particular friend of mine… Kaaliya… !!!! :mrgreen:

    he is obsessed with fairness… he wouldnt come to play cricket coz he would go dark… !!!!! its great to rub him with it… !

    we still match the colour of our fore-arms.. ! πŸ˜› πŸ˜›

    dont disown me… !!!

    I am only for creams that help when the skin is dry.. or else.. nothing.. I dont even use sunscreen…

    D: I use a moisturizer during winters to get away with dry skin πŸ™‚

    my wife is a different matter though… maybe I get her to read this… ! πŸ˜›


  5. i know the ads u r talking abt .. i don’t want to mention any companies here ,but a particular company repeatedly keeps airing ads like these.. its almost as if the company says “this is your IQ and thats why i am making an ad with such a crude message”.. that said we must be among the top fairness-obsessed society in the entire world.. by we,i mean majority of indians..so the company is in a way targeting just that need!.. which doesn’t make it right ..

    D: Exactly! All the more a need to stay away from such companies and ads. Its high time we conveyed to them that we are not going to be fooled.


  6. I am with you on this one!

    I loved this post.
    We pay too much attention on the “fair skin”.

    One daughter/DIL is loved more just because she is “fair” and the other one who is actually taking care of the parents/in-laws is humiliated and preferential treatment is given to the other just because of the skin colour.
    This has to stop…

    D: Yes this mindset is what has to stop. So agree with you,Pix πŸ™‚

    I don’t buy fairness creams/lotions, so yes, I do join you on supporting this.


  7. Me with u too πŸ™‚ I just dont like these creams funda .. rubbish claims there!

    Deepu, I hv a post in drafts, one point in which is this one. My cousin ws a bit dark and when they were seeing alliances for her, they were nt allowing me to even hv a look @ the groom. I ws very young then, just in 12th or so. The reason ws that one family hd asked y she ws dark if I ws fairer than her 😦 It hurt her so much that I ws feeling soo bad 😦 It ws in neither of our hands to be the we r rt?

    D: That is so sad,Swar! I can so feel for your cousin. Whyever should anyone be blamed for having or not having a certain skin colour. We are not what we are because of our colour. Theres a whole lot of other things that go in making us the person we are. How difficult is to understand that?

    We r tooooo very obsessed with fair, weight, height and many other things …. kills me 😦

    I dont use any of these things .. rather my daily makeup is limited to a powder and a bindi .. thatz it πŸ™‚ So, I am totally with u πŸ™‚


    1. And abt stories, one lady ws telling me recently that her daughter recently asked her if she ws her step-mom when she scolded her for something wrong. Influenced by such stories .. hw on earth ppl cud atleast conceive such ideas? Beats me!


  8. Absolutely with you, Deeps!!

    This is one of the issues that I have with fairytales too. The emphasis on ‘beautiful’ and the gender bias where the ‘prince’ saves the ‘princess’ and as in the case of Snow white and the Ugly Duckling, the emphasis on colour! I feel mortified that we are emphasizing these values from such a young age. Even if I do read stories of this sort- I modify the story as I like, to make it less emphatic on things like beauty/colour etc.

    D: Even I do that, Smits! I modify stories in a way that the beauty,colour or caste(the panchatantra stories are full of it) parts are never highlighted. You know I have a post in the drafts on this very aspect,the messages that some of the fairy tales and other children’s stories convey. They are so misleading. Will bring it out soon πŸ™‚

    But how long can I protect/shield her from all this? Esp as you say, ads of all sorts keep bombarding ideas these into our living rooms.

    But then when I think back, I have never seen my mother use any thing to do with fairness or whitening , and perhaps that’s one of the reasons, I have never bothered about the need to fit in. So if we all do what you say – stay away from any product which propagates this – it might work fine for our daughters.

    It really irritates me how every part of the society is obsessed with color! I was told to eat apples to have a fair child. I was so wild when I heard that, I can’t tell you! Even worse was when Poohi was born, my sister in law, asked husband – ‘Gori hai ki kaali hai’ What difference does it make?? Is that the first question one asks when a child is born?

    D: Smits, when I was pregnant I was asked by my ‘well-wishers’ to have saffron to have a fair child! πŸ™‚ .

    Deeps, it is so worrying for me, that no matter how much we try, there will always be people like this who will bring up things like this 😦 All we can do is do our best to ground our daughters as well as we can!

    Lovely post!


  9. Great initiative Deeps, I could not agree more. Great teaching to namnam. It is high time our society gave due respect to people irrespective of their color. In fact I do not use anything other than moisturizer(the other extreme).

    D: Yes,Lakshmi. Its high time we discarded this obsession for skin colour. I use a moisturizer too when my skin gets dry in winter:)


  10. Hmm, my husband was most concerned that our kids wouldn’t take after him, his colour he meant!
    Since then I have been fighting a loosing battle trying to convince one and all that it is the iner beauty that matters…
    I am still fighting! Now I join u guys in it!


  11. I don’t use them so i don’t stock them either plus it makes us prone to skin cancer as when the first layer is lost, UV rays have more harmful effects!


    1. And hey, you can see from my DP that i am on darker side πŸ˜‰ AND i am proud of my colour. Everyone should!!! πŸ™‚

      D: Yeah,all I see is your eye πŸ˜€


  12. Awww Deeps! HUGS!!!
    I’m all teary eyed.

    The duckling story holds true in my case. πŸ™‚
    I was slightly dark, and my mom used to make fun of me. Seeing this my bro, who was little, started imitating her as well. Apart from that some relatives used to call me names too!

    But as the ‘duckling’ grew, she’s now fairer than all! πŸ˜€

    I knw very well how one would feel.
    Till today I tell my mom that inner beauty counts the most, but it falls on deaf ears. Typical Indian mentality!
    And you know the problem I’m facing now. Sigh!


  13. This is a very universal thing in India..we make the beauty synonym with complexion, everything else is left behind..and most of the fair poeple also think that they are better than their dark counterparts.

    To me complexion is a complexion, thats it nothing more nothing less….I never believed in fairness cream.so dont need to discard them.


  14. Hi Deeps, You are right this is one problems which seems small but affects young minds very deeply , especially girls . And as a mother of two daughters I am with you girl !!

    take care


  15. Colour is secondary, Deepu. Good education makes girls smarter and that is more than enough, I feel. The self-confidence in their attitude will be visible above their outer colour.

    Even Kiran Bedi recommended a fairness cream in some ad. – I was shocked. She is not very fair but who noticed it?

    I use some foundation cream when I go for weddings etc. Otherwise I use just moisturiser.


    1. I agree about confidence. Reminds me of the lovely story about a man who married a girl who was considered very plain – on Fiji islands the groom had to ‘pay’ for the girl, and generally a reasonably good looking girl’s father got 4-5 cows. This guy insisted on giving 8 cows to her father and the confidence she got from being considered so good, and the guy’s love made her look beautiful…
      I have seen people who have regular features and everything good looking not half as attractive as those with confidence, poise, good grooming, clear skin and well cared for hair. I am all for beauty lies in good grooming and over all confidence. It has nothing to do with being fair or even with being skinny.


  16. Deeps,
    Thanks for stopping by ; means a lot. πŸ™‚

    It is discrimination. Period. The sad part is that it is not just in India ; there are people here Indian-Americans who are now citizens and that’s the first thing they talk of upon seeing a child. It pains when it is done by relatives pitting siblings/cousins against each other — ‘Sanju is fairer than Neetu kinds’.

    I have lost my cool when people have done that. No other way to stop it. Told a friend’s wife who is doing ‘Saffron Treatment’ (loads of saffron in milk for a month or whatever) that it’s stupid and she told me it works and is a proven fact. I rested my case πŸ™‚


  17. The recent fair and lovely ad really pissed me off.come-on how can they come up with ads like that.They are portraying stuffs as if dark skinned girls won’t get guys\jobs\attention etc.It is upto we youngsters to avoid all these discriminations

    I wrote about the same topic long time back… check it out here


  18. I am with you totally. I feel healthy skin, shining clean hair… a happy smile, a confident chin, sparkling rested eyes (not glued too long on the TV or the Comp)… are what makes beautiful looking people.


  19. thats really true deeps… for a long time the beauty and talent is associated with fairness… 😦 😦

    and I never used one for a long time… I don’t have an idea on that now…. but the commercials are really misleading.. 😐 😐


  20. obsession with fair skin is a thought passed onto us by the brits. We are obsessed with fair skin but it’s worthless. Marketing gimmicks have us wrapped up and we are simply made to believe that fair skin is the thing we all need.

    Don’t we all (men and women) like Bipasha? her skin – not fair at all πŸ™‚

    D: Welcome here πŸ™‚


  21. ohhh … great topic…
    havent been able to drop in here for a while…

    well, often the shade of the skin rule the world though we say thats not how thins work out there…


  22. Thank you, Sindhu, Sakhi, Elegant Chic, VJ, Renu, Rekha, Sandhya, IHM, Madhu, Anish, Kanagu, JD, Aryan’s Mom and deeps for your valuable comments. I’m glad you all agree with my viewpoints and are with me in this much needed campaign πŸ™‚


  23. @IHM,
    Beg to differ πŸ™‚ . Some of the most beautiful people I have seen have been ‘small, toothless and bald’ ; sometimes with a liberal sprinkling of wrinkles.

    I was talking of babies and elders ; ironically though at the diametric opposite ends of the spectrum they share a lot in common and beauty is certainly one of them (at least they are my favorite subjects). There’s something magical about the innocence and the creases of life traveled that far overpower the traditional definition of youth’s beauty..


  24. A wonderful post and a well-deserved Blogadda pick. Congrats Deeps!

    D: Thank you, Shail πŸ™‚

    The ads and the way they portray that fairness of your skin is all that you need to be successful and happy fills me with murderous rage. But then we (and I mean those who hanker after a fair skin which is like 99.99% of the population and their grandmother) are responsible for this mess. These ad companies and those that make those creams and what nots will have to shut down shop if we refuse to be the gullible fools they take us to be. But then they are the ones who have the last laugh. They know the craving, the madness for that fair look. They know people are stupid enough to forgo nutritious food, but will buy that fairness cream!

    D: ‘But then we (and I mean those who hanker after a fair skin which is like 99.99% of the population and their grandmother) are responsible for this mess.” Bang on, Shail! Such ads are shown even today and they sell because we allow them to be shown. Unless and until we stop ourselve and let them know we will not be fooled anymore, thse companies will keep having the last laugh.

    Imagine, getting a job because you are fair??!!! Arrey… why go to college, get degrees?? Why all the tuition and entrance exams?? All you need is a tube of fairness cream and you have it all, including an army of suitors! And ohh, you get a new hair do, lovely teeth, the right posture and lovely clothes with matching accessories for free! Sick!


  25. Just reflect your thots on this !!! This fair skin is a lot hyped in India, right ????

    Those fair-skinned want to tan, while we want it fair !!! Irony in life !!!


  26. Traditionally, Indian Culture has never shown a preference for skin colour.

    Colorism in India , i think is one of the effects of colonialism,giving in to the propaganda of the British (“Aryan Invasion” – WTF ) that anything White,is at a higher social status. The Fair n Lovely Cream is the best selling fairness cream in India. After all, Hindustan Unilever,which markets and sells it, is primarily a Dutch company, so what do you expect?

    They should have this stamped on every such product –

    ” SomeFairnessCream*

    *Disclaimer : This is a skin fairness cream,and does not , in any way , contribute towards the fairness in spirit or character of the user of this cream. The fairness we sell is just skin deep. Totally. ”

    Sad that so many Indians are prejudiced and ignorant.


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