“The top five television heroines are fair-skinned and those who were not fair have made themselves extremely fair to enter that race.” – Amna Ilyas
In a country where international brands milk the market with fairness creams on the one hand, and employ more females in the work force to balance equal opportunity employment – we wonder, how can the masses change their mindset when we don’t.
Solution? The gora complex cannot be fought off alone as a single issue in society. We have to change our thinking, and that requires influencers, as well as individuals like yourselves and brands, to come forward and touch base with the masses. It means going into underdeveloped areas, pulling out that fairness cream jar and telling women that this will not change your future – a college degree might. It requires teaching women that they are valued for their intellect and not their looks, and that brown, white, black, colored is all beautiful because beauty does not go skin deep.
Here is how a change can come – real, solid change from within:
1. When a brand sponsors an ad that ‘I am a woman and I don’t need a fairness cream’.
Fairness creams are a huge chunk of a brand’s revenue. It is like the Marlboro man, who apparently died of lung cancer but kept the company’s revenues going till he took his last breath. Why would any company kill its best brand … duh? Oh well, there’s something called planning for the future. When writers like me will write against fairness creams in 2019 and influencers like Amna Ilyas will shout out about the gora complex in 2015 and beyond – the world will eventually listen.
So advertisers listen up! Change your branding game from fairness creams to sunscreens! Sunscreens will become the new trend, and fairness creams will have to go. Why not be the first one to do this? Why wait for a protest outside your stores and a twitter debate or even worse, a petition to push the change? – be the change, have you not heard this mantra?
2. When actresses refuse to take on sponsors for Fairness creams.
Iqra Aziz did it and now, so has Amna Ilyas. Have the courage to speak up and give up the financial gain because millions of girls; young girls, are looking up to you. And they are NOT gora. So give them the confidence to step out and look their best in the color God gave them. Be the change – it is very empowering – and power is what you seek to influence right?
3. When the traditional saas stops seeking a gori bahu.
Haan, lekin larki ka rung saanwala hai thora. We’ve heard this one so many times. Aur qurbani kay bakray kay daant bhi gin lein, baal, eye test, and blood test bhi karwa lein? When our mother in laws will stop seeking bahus, gori bahus, brown girls might have a chance – what say you?
4. When Big Brands sponsor a new Super Hero(ine) TV Series
5. Finally, Brown or White – this whole pressure of being beautiful!
Maybe we need to erase the idea of beauty = white or brown or black or color. Why do we have to equate beauty with women? Why not intelligence, or confidence, or sensitivity or power.
When we stop judging new born baby girls as gora or kaala in the hospital, when we educate them so that they can use their minds to contribute to society and better their own lives, when we teach them that being confident has nothing to do with skin-deep beauty, when we stop equating color with beauty, we might take a tiny step forward.
The one reason that Idris Elba (voted the sexiest man alive, and he’s black) declined to take on 007 was because he didn’t want people to think that 007 has to be black or white.
“James Bond is a hugely coveted, iconic, beloved character, that takes audiences on this massive escapism journey,” Elba says. “Of course, if someone said to me, ‘Do you want to play James Bond?,’ I’d be like, ‘Yeah!’ That’s fascinating to me. But it’s not something I’ve expressed, like, ‘Yeah, I wanna be the black James Bond.’
Get it? We need to change our parameters for what counts as worth in society. And it should definitely NOT BE color.
We have a generation of young girls who are taking on the world as doctors, digital designers, athletes, engineers, pilots, police officers … the list goes on. These women are taking the lead and saying out loud to young girls that: you CAN do it too. Just believe in yourself!
I fervently hope these women are not using a fairness cream to validate their value to society. Because if they are … they’re missing the point altogether – are you?