Skin Whitening India – Is Your Beauty Regimen Actually Harmless?
India is a country rich in history and tradition, and is often viewed as an exotic land filled with spices, bustling streets, and golden brown people wearing colorful clothing and jewelry. Unfortunately, that is not the true picture of India, nor is it the picture many of the people of this country themselves wish to see. One of the biggest furors lately is over skin whitening; India has found itself in a social and media outcry over the use of skin whiteners in advertising. However, this is not a new issue; for many years, lighter skin has been considered highly prized.
Although the caste system in India has officially been abolished, many of the social behaviors and expectations still seem to echo a system of identification based upon external appearances and attributes. The traditionally high caste people typically had fairer skins than those who worked out of doors, which may have led to the belief that lighter skin was a more desirable trait. Although there are many who now protest skin whitening, India is never-the-less one of the biggest marketers in these kinds of products, and advertisements using light skinned natives are only increasing that trend among consumers who wish to look stylish.
Traditionally, lighter skin traits have been a highly touted trait among many people of India. Much like African Americans of the Civil War era, those with lighter skins were thought of as being closer to those in power, and those with the naturally beautiful dark skin tones were unfairly judged solely on the color of their pigmentation. Rather than try to remove the desire for skin whitening, India cosmetic companies instead seem to be pushing for these stereotypes by using primarily fair skinned models in their advertisement campaigns. Again, this only increases the awareness of skin color and the differences.
While many people may only wish to improve the complexion or even out skin tone or pigmentation with skin whitening, India is also home to many people that use these products to improve their social status, as well as appearance. With a historical reliance upon the caste system and the external status, this could be a dangerous trend to follow. However, given that historical documents have evidence that women in India have used turmeric and saffron for thousands of years to lighten the complexion, perhaps the desire for lighter skin is only reflecting the historical and not the modern values of this large country.