Why Do We Need to Be Fair or Lovely? Let’s Uncolour, India

Ram Subramanian, better known by his social media moniker ‘Voice of Ram’, has hit out at fairness creams selling a narrative of ‘fairer is better.’ In a video released online, Subramanian argues against the perceived need to be fair-complexioned and demands that fairness creams shut shop. He admits to having used fairness creams during his younger days.

Ram Subramanian wrote to The Quint on why he has chosen to pick up the cudgels against fairness creams.

Why I Want Fair and Lovely to Shut Down Before 15 August 2017

“Let’s Uncolour” is probably the most difficult video I have worked on, so far.

It’s not that I don’t understand what I am asking for: Shutting down a product, a brand and a company that has taken decades to build. That means an ecosystem is alive around it and depends on it. There are people who work at Fair & Lovely’s offices, factories, supply chain, advertising, etc. etc. They have rents to pay, families to feed. They have aspirations, travel plans and bonuses.

To top that, there are lakhs of people who buy and use the product, especially from south India. Who am I to tell those people that their need, their desire to become ‘fair’ is a wrong desire? Just because I ‘think’ so?

I am no saint. I buy products that are harmful to me too. I have my vices and habits that kill me slowly every day and will kill me in a more definitive manner, one day. So why my angst against Fair & Lovely, in particular?

Because Fair and Lovely crosses many lines, at many levels. I will list out as many as I can.

Faced Discrimination for Being Dark-Complexioned

As an individual, I have understood the damage ‘the idea of fairness as a measure of beauty’ can do. I have been on the receiving end of discrimination for a long time. Dark, bald and serious-looking usually means you get frisked for no reason at airports abroad.

I was called many names as a kid, from ‘blackie’ to ‘nigger’. To me those terms were just funny-sounding words but I can see, today, what they can do to someone who takes these words and stares at the intention it holds within.

Fairness Creams Dented the Confidence of My Own Family Members

I have seen the damage it has done to women (and men) in my extended family. ‘The most dangerous poison is one that is labeled elixir.’ Fair & Lovely is that vile venom and it needs to be called out for what it really is: a confidence-damaging poison that makes people feel small and ugly every day.

Are We Ashamed of Who We Are as a People?

As a south Indian I find it to be shocking that past (and present) leaders have allowed this product to grow and damage their own culture, their own people. By south Indian governments, I mean the governments of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. From what I know, Fair & Lovely (and other fairness creams) sell quite a bit in these states. I don’t understand why these so-called leaders want their state to shine?

They apparently want to fight to preserve their language, their culture, their music, their art their cinema, etc, but they are ashamed of the colour of their own skin?  That’s ridiculous, no? Are they ashamed of who they and their people are? Which is why Fair & Lovely, and other fairness products, need to go.

Pray to Dark-Skinned Gods, but Look up to Fair-Skinned People?

As a Hindu, (apologies for bringing religion in this but I have a point to make) so yeah, as a Hindu, I find it strange that we are asked to worship dark-skinned Gods inside temples and expected to look up to fair-skinned people outside it. That bothers me so for God’s sake too, Fair & Lovely, and other fairness creams, have to go.

We Need to Respect Ourselves

As an Indian, I feel that we have allowed myopic thinking to bind our own minds. We are a beautiful brown nation of simple people with honest smiles and kind hearts. If we expect to be respected for who we are, all over the world, then we should first respect ourselves for who we are in our own country, in our own state, in our own society and importantly, in the privacy of our own minds.

Respect from others is a reflection of self-respect. We are a brown republic. Period. We should celebrate it, respect it and not fight it. For that reason, Fair & Lovely (and other fairness creams) have to go.

That’s it. That’s all I have to say about ‘Let’s Uncolour’!

These five points are just logic, the true answer to the question ‘are fairness creams damaging to our world?’ lies in your heart.  Ask yourself and you will get the answer.