By Rohan Valecha
The recent racist and xenophobic attacks on African students in Noida and the insensitive remarks made by former Parliament member Tarun Vijay stirred up a storm on social media. Twitteratti strongly condemned the statements, sparking off a discourse about the inherent racism in the Indian society. Notably, Abhay Deol posted a series of posts on his Facebook page where he openly slammed many Bollywood celebrities who have endorsed fairness creams in the past.
Abhay Deol SLAMS Shah Rukh Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor For Endorsing Fair Skin. Happy Bhag Jayegi actor Abhay Deol also took a dig at Sidharth Malhotra, Vidya Balan, Ileana D’Cruz and John Abraham among others for endorsing fairness creams
He urged stars to leverage their celebrity status to make a difference rather than influencing people into believing that only fair skin is beautiful. Previously, Nandita Das championed the cause of ‘Dark is Beautiful’. Here’s a list of some of the B-town celebrities who have refused to endorse such products in the past.
In 2011, Ranbir Kapoor refused to be associated with a fairness cream as he believes that such products do nothing but deepen racist stereotypes. The ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ actor felt that such products only make racist stereotypes stronger than ever in the Indian mindset.
The outspoken Queen of Bollywood, Kangana Ranaut surely did not regret turning down a lucrative offer from one such company. Reacting to rumors that she was offered Rs 2 crore for understood the concept of fairness. Especially, in such a case, as a celebrity, what kind of an example would I be setting for younger people? I have no regrets about turning this offer down. As a public figure, I have responsibilities.”
Swara Bhaskar was approached by a skin care brand in 2015, asking her to endorse a skin lightening product. The ‘Anaarkali of Aarah’ star declined the deal which promised big bucks, by saying, “This fair skin obsession has to be discouraged. It’s so regressive and problematic to put a value, negative or positive to skin color. It’s actually the seeds of racism and it only promotes low self-esteem. For me, I believe in loving yourself just the way you are. Dusky, dark or wheatish, you are perfect, all I want to tell the girls is don’t change.”
Randeep Hooda was one of the celebrities who did not bite the bait when he was asked to be the face of a fairness product for men. The ‘Sarbjit’ actor expressed that he doesn’t believe in the obsession with fairness and that men should be tall, dark and handsome. He also claimed then that the ideology of ‘beauty being defined with fair skin’ is discriminatory and that despite being offered a huge amount for the deal, he was not willing to sign it.
In an online discussion for International Women’s Day, Kalki Koechlin offered what she thought of fairness products in the Indian beauty market. She said, “I don’t think there is anything wrong with being fair, but it has become such an obsession in our country that it is all we look for in beauty. There are so many stunning people who are dark-skinned and it should be celebrated. I would love to have a product that makes me darker.” She further added, “I endorse an anti-ageing cream because I do feel I have to take better care of my skin with age, but I am clear that fairness is not something I promote with them. In fact, I would love to endorse a cream which makes me darker, I am always trying to get a tan.”
By Rohan Valecha