Skin lightening cream is an extremely popular– and extremely controversial– product around the world, in part due to famous advertisements that promote the idea that love and professional success only come to women who make their skin as fair as possible. Thankfully, the Advertising Standards Council of India recently released a statement to say that they’re cracking down on these kinds of commercials. In their words,
Advertising should not associate darker or lighter colour skin with any particular socio-economic strata, caste, community, religion, profession or ethnicity. … Advertising should not perpetuate gender based discrimination because of skin colour.
I always feel hesitant to comment on things like this, because while I can relate to feeling bullied into meeting the beauty standards advertisers try to sell me, I couldn’t be further removed from colorism as an issue. Growing up in the United States with white skin has completely absolved me of experiencing the systematic racism that some people face every day of their lives. I can open up any magazine and get the message that my skin tone is beautiful, sexy, celebrated, default. They might tell me to visit a tanning bed or buy bronzer, but I’ll never know what it feels like to be told that my skin is a problem holding me back in life. I can sympathize, and I can relate, but I’ll never really know.
All I can say is that having rules in place to keep advertisers from promoting discrimination has to be a good thing, and I hope that these new regulations will make companies up their game and learn to sell products without selling stereotypes and prejudices.