Monica Chadha, BBC News, Nov. 2
All is fair. So believes an Indian cosmetics company that has launched a new skin-lightening cream exclusively for men in an attempt to target the growing number of metrosexual males.
Called Fair and Handsome, the advertisement for the product gives the message: be fair or remain in dark oblivion.
Until now, skin-lightening creams have been aimed almost exclusively at women. This is the first launched nationally for men.
Surveys carried out by cosmetics companies suggest growing numbers of Indian men are using the creams.
The domestic skin-lightening cream industry is valued at over $190m — a strong indicator of the great Indian obsession with fair skin.
Mothers are known to tell their daughters not to play in the sun and to be sure to apply sunscreen when they go out because no man would want a dark bride.
Editor of men’s magazine, Man’s World, Jerry Pinto, says most dark-skinned men are as insecure as women and go to equal lengths, albeit secretly, to achieve lighter skin.
Prof Shallini Bharat, a socio-psychologist with the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, believes this complex is a result of the country’s history.
“India’s rulers have always been fair, be it the Aryans in the early centuries or Europeans in later years. Fairness is equated with superiority, power and influence, therefore the preference for lighter skin.”
Most advertisements for the creams tend to portray that dark skin will hold a person back, whereas fair skin will mean social acceptance and even success in the chosen profession, as well as among the opposite sex.
The advert for the male cream shows a dark-skinned college boy relegated to the back seat and ignored by the girls until he uses the product. Soon enough, his complexion lightens and girls flock to him like moths to a flame.