Abhay Deol has taken a stand once again, this time it is against ads for fairness creams. The Bollywood actor called out colleagues from the fraternity for endorsing these products that perpetuate the inferiority of dark skin. Deol lashed out on social media as a reaction to the recent attacks on African expatriates in Greater Noida that sparked a debate about racism in India and if Indians are racist.
Deol did not mask his sarcasm or wit in a series of posts on Wednesday. In the first post, he wrote, “WE ARE NOT A RACIST COUNTRY! I will prove it to you. In the pic below John holds a card with shades from white to dark. Hey! You can see the promise of darker skin too if you read the card from left to right! He's not telling you to go from right to left! Duh! Even if the writing on the tube reads "Intensive FAIRNESS moisturiser". It just means it’s 'FAIR' to all who use it.”
The actor cited more examples of Bollywood celebrities endorsing fairness creams, from Vidya Balan and Deepika Padukone to Shah Rukh Khan and Shahid Kapoor. Deol noted Nandita Das’ role in making an attempt to impress upon people to “stay unfair, stay beautiful”. He mocked at the comments made by a former Rajya Sabha MP about racism in India. Tarun Vijay had said on video, “If we were racist, why would we have all the entire south…Tamil, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra…why do we live with them? We have black people around us.” Deol wrote, “Silly Nandita trying to teach us that Black is also beautiful. Doesn't she know that we already know that? Why else would we be so accepting of people from the south*?”
Deol’s posts went viral and many social media users applauded his courage to take down senior colleagues in the industry like Shah Rukh Khan. One user, Neil Rane, commented on Facebook, “Thank you Abhay Deol for having the courage to stand up to these fairness creams. Our pitiful obsession with fairness and white people is alarmingly racist and blatantly endorsing white supremacy.”
Speaking about fairness creams and their advertising, KV Sridhar (Pops), founder, .hypercollective said that fundamentally, if a product is allowed to be produced, it should be allowed to be advertised within the existing rules and regulations. That said, Pops admitted that the tone of advertisements for fairness creams needs to change. “The only way fairness creams can change is to get away from 'fairness’ and talk about the product as a grooming product. Fairness cream advertisers should also not over-promise,” he said.
Pops said that in India, we discriminate against people based on caste, language, skin colour, and gender. “We are more racist than other racist nations. This results in “lines like 'chahe gori ho ya kali ho’ finding place in our movies in the garb of entertainment,” he said.
Advertisers for fairness creams must take their role in society more seriously than they do. The influence the products have on the average population is potentially harmful. Therefore, Pops said that advertising for the product should serve a greater purpose than just being about a girl getting married or getting rejected because of dark skin. Fairness creams must also educate users about how to use the product and what exactly the product does to the skin when applied etc., he added.