NEWS: Beauty brand Hindustan Unilever has revealed that it will drop the word ‘Fair’ from their Fair & Lovely product range in wake of the protests against skin lightening products and celebrities who endorse the range. The company will also remove any reference that pertains to “lightening and “whitening” on products that are sold across Asia territory. Unilever acknowledged the branding suggests “a singular ideal of beauty”.
“This product has built upon, perpetuated and benefited from internalised racism and promotes anti-blackness sentiments.”
The beauty product company took notice of two petitions that called on Unilever to end the production of the Fair & Lovely range. The petition has garnered more than 18,000 signatures in recent weeks. The second petition claims the Unilever product range “tells us that there is something wrong with our color, that we have to be light in order to feel beautiful. In order to feel worthy.”
Nandita Das on Hindustan Unilever announcement
Iconic actor and director Nandita Das has been a strong advocate on issues relating to colorism saw the beauty product’s renaming as a ‘big step forward.’
In her chat to the Mumbai Mirror, Das said, “In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of social wrongs have found a surprisingly sympathetic audience. The announcement today by Hindustan Unilever that they will remove the words ‘fairness’, ‘whitening and ‘lightening’ from their line of products, is something I don’t think anyone saw coming. Even though it is more symbolic (after all they have not discontinued the product, just changed the messaging), it is still a big step forward.”
“Many brands spend hundreds of crores of rupees to spread the absurd message of fair being lovely in a largely dark country. So, when a market leader steps in, at the very least, it will certainly lead to an even wider debate.” said Nandita Das
Believing in ‘better late than never’, Das added, “Yesterday, Johnson & Johnson announced that it would stop its line of skin whitening products. Also, that they would add more shades to their Band-Aids outside of the current ‘skin colour’. Whose skin are we talking about anyway! I thought to myself, ‘well, better late than never’. Maybe some in the cosmetic industry are realising that such products and imageries feed racist and colourist stereotypes.”
Nandita Das is also an ambassador for the ‘Dark is Beautiful’ campaign, driven by Chennai-based organisation since 2013. “I didn’t realise it would touch such a raw nerve. It suddenly went viral and brought attention to this prejudice which has been normalised over the years. By default, I became the face of the campaign.” said Das.