North Texas Daily

Colorism is worldwide problem that needs to addressed

Colorism is worldwide problem that needs to addressed

Colorism is worldwide problem that needs to addressed
July 11
10:00 2020

Recent Black Lives Matter protests in the United States have captured the attention of people worldwide, opened the door for long-overdue yet recurring conversations that ultimately forced Unilever, a British-Dutch multinational consumer goods company, to re-brand one of their products.  

The product that caused so much controversy was a skin lightening cream under the brand name Fair & Lovely. However, Hindustan Unilever Unlimited (HUL) recently announced that Glow & Lovely, marketed for women, and Glow & Handsome, marketed for men, will be replacing the former name. In a press release on July 2, HUL said this is “the next step in the evolution of its skincare portfolio to a more inclusive vision of Positive Beauty.” 

Yet, why did it take the current Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S. for a fairness cream mostly marketed to consumers in Asian countries like India, for this drastic change to occur?

A simple answer to that question probably doesn’t exist, but what is simple to understand about it is that colorism is not an issue exclusive to Black people living in the U.S., it happens globally. We are living in a time where people everywhere are demanding and recognizing the need for change, and those changes are being made. 

Sunny Jain, the President, Beauty & Personal Care for Unilever, released a statement on June 25 about the re-branding of this product, he stated that “The brand’s advertising has been changing since 2014, to a message of women empowerment. Fair & Lovely (now Glow & Lovely) upholds principles that no association should be made between skin tone and a person’s achievement, potential or worth.” It’s clear to see throughout Jain’s entire statement that the company has been working for a while to change what Fair & Lovely, now Glow & Lovely, stands for. 

Perhaps the recent Black Lives Matter protests were the final push needed to get the name changed, and that speaks volumes for the impact the Black Lives Matter movement is having. 

Although changing the brand-name of Fair & Lovely was needed and is a step in the right direction, there are still years of damage done that could take years to undo in places like India where fair skin is looked at as better, especially for women. Those with darker skin tones grow up getting teased and feeling bad about themselves.

Muna Beatty is an anti-colorism advocate based in India, she shared her thoughts and experience with colorism growing up there in an opinion piece for Al Jazeera. She said, “Indian society believes skin color determines a person’s worth.” From a young age, Beatty didn’t feel like she fit in and was judged because of the color of her skin, and as she grew older she was also pressured to become lighter-skinned. “From homemade – turmeric, curd, gram – to store-bought, many cosmetic products were applied on my skin to make me fairer,” Beatty said.

Beatty wrote about her experience with colorism in hopes of prompting change in her country. She doesn’t want her daughter to grow up feeling the way she did and wants her future to be better.  

The experience that Beatty endured and is enduring is similar to ones we see with colorism in the U.S. Women and men of darker skin tones sometimes feel left out and get made fun of and it seems like it’s always been that way. In the U.S. it goes far beyond attractiveness to more pressing matters like inequality.  

Black people in the U.S. are beyond fed up with being treated unfairly, criminalized and murdered because of the color of their skin. The things that have transpired over the past few months are proof.  

There are many people around the world who grow up from a child feeling inadequate simply because their skin is not light enough. You don’t have to be a Black American to understand that feeling, it’s universal. The fact that it is shows the gravity of the situation and it is unacceptable.

Featured Illustration:  Olivia Varnell

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Alexandria Northington

Alexandria Northington

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