As a country struggling with an unfair obsession with the fair skin, we can really learn a lot from a small country in Africa – Rwanda.
Yes, Rwanda has officially banned skin lightening and bleaching products.
For a long time, Rwanda has been leading campaigns against products that contain hydroquinone – which is the most common skin lightening agent.
Last year in November, Rwandan President Paul Kagame spoke about a need to ban the sale of fairness products, stating that such creams are “unhealthy”.
With the recent ban, police have seized over 5,000 products from across the country. These include not just fairness creams & lotions, but also oils, soaps and even sprays.
And back here in India, our advertisements are still preaching that it’s not your qualification but your “skin fairness” that is linked to success and beauty.
Are We, Indians, Really Obsessed With Fair Skin?
With the number of skin lightening products available in the market and the millions spent on the advertisement of such products, there’s little doubt that India is super-obsessed with fair skin.
As per Indiatimes, Indian fairness cream industry is worth around $450 million.
The BBC reported that in South Asia more skin lightening creams are sold than bottles of Coca Cola.
Is that shocking?
Over 90% of women in India cite skin lightening as a high need area.
It’s not just the companies, but even parents who promote the concept of fair skin, and push their daughters to use all sort of beauty products to look fair. We even have our own home remedies for the purpose.
This obsession with fair skin has led to the destruction of self- confidence for millions of girls and created multiple issues in our society:
All of us have seen Sunday classified ads touting the marriageability of an “MBA graduate. 5-½ ft. English medium. Fair complexion”.
Born as a dark girl myself, I have been through hell during my childhood. No one cared about my intellect what everyone cared about was my colour. During all the family gatherings and ceremonies, everyone’s favourite topic was how to turn me into the fair and lovely model.
From long-distant aunts to neighbours to my mom’s friends, all have managed to shower their love in form of free unsolicited advice.
But I refused to succumb to the pressure of the society. I refused to tell myself that I wasn’t enough. I refused to accept that I wasn’t beautiful. And, I refused to let people destroy my self-confidence because they have been raised by low beauty standard.
At I For Her, we are waiting for the day when we will follow Rwanda and will end our obsession with fair skin.
The day when we would be more than the colour of our skin.