IndiaParentMagazine

BOWING DOWN TO PRESSURE FROM BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT, UNILEVER DROPS FAIR FROM FAIR AND LOVELY CREAM

By India Parent Magazine

With Black Lives Matter protests being globally endorsed by millions of people and big industry houses, the multi-billion pound company is pushed into a corner to make some changes to its widely popular fairness cream.

In an act that is criticized as lip service, the company chooses to drop the word "fair" but keeps the product intact, making the move look dubious to many. Why is Unilever not getting rid of its product altogether like its competitor Johnson and Johnson which last week announced it would stop sales of skin-lightening lotions from its Neutrogena and Clean & Clear ranges?

Obviously, Unilever did not want to lose its golden goose. Fair and Lovely makes $500 million a year in India alone, a country that is crazy over fair skin. Stars such as Shah Rukh Khan, Priyanka Chopra, Sonam Kapoor, Genelia, John Abraham, Kareena Kapoor, and Shahid Kapoor have all endorsed the many brands of fair and brightening creams very vociferously in spite of the protests against them from activist groups such as All India Democratic Women's Association. The reason could be the big bucks associated with these endorsements going as high as Rupees 12 to 13 crores a year. However, there are some stars who refused to do so in spite of the huge cash incentive. The gorgeous Bipasha Basu remained proud and unapologetic of her lovely olive skin and promoted health and fitness instead. So did Ranbir Kapoor who declined to promote any fairness product. Abhay Deol is another actor who strongly objects to fairness creams.

Fair and Lovely was launched in India in 1978, and soon became a household name. Its earlier advertisements were in-your-face, crude messages with darker skin women blossoming into fair skinned angels after the usage of the cream. Slowly upon popular pressure, advertisements became less intrusive, but still continued delivering the same message that fair is beautiful, cunningly comprehending the pulse of the Indian society that worships fairer tones. Even today many matrimonial advertisements demand a "fair bride."

Today many fair skin ads are more careful not to offend the popular sentiment talk less about "fair" and more about "glow," "radiance," and "brightness. However, the word "fair," would slyly be tucked way in some corner somewhere.

Unilever is only deleting the word "fair," from its name and NOT the product. So how genuine is the company's concern for an equal world and black lives matter movement? If the company really cared why not remove the product altogether? Maybe because it understand the value of the "demand."

According to some theories, there is also a major health concern attached to fair skin products sold in India and other South Asian countries. Some skin specialists observe that Indian skin produces a dark melanin that protects when exposed to sun thus preventing skin cancer and other skin problems. It is this element that also makes Indian skin more protected and less wrinkled compared to other skin types in cooler atmospheres. These fairness products bleach the melanin. So long-term use of fairness products could cause ageing and perhaps even skin cancer. The Indian dermatologists' community doesn't want to cause a cancer scare but it's been about 40 years since Fair & Lovely was launched in the Indian market and the impact is likely to be felt in the coming years, according to an article published in Vanity Fair.

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