The skin lightening industry currently spans the globe, with pockets of high interest and revenue generated in the Indian Subcontinent and the Middle East. Products such as Fair and Lovely, and other numerous derivates and copycat products have become synoymous with beauty and desirability. The advertisements for these products often play on the insecurities and inability to achieve and prosper in life, such as pursuing a career, job prospects and marriage options down to low self-esteem and confidence dominantely as a result of dark skin. The products are targetted at women, however there’s a large growing market who’s agenda are the male members of the species
The preoccupation with fair skin or fairness is evident throughout history. From the slave trade, to the rule of British Raj in the Indian Subcontinent. The Quran also refers to the houri’s as fair maidens, rewarded to believing men in Paradise. Although what is fairness in this context has been referred to character and not colour
Therein (Gardens) will be Khairaatun‑Hisaan [fair (wives) good and beautiful]”
Ibn al-Qayyim said:
They are described as being fair and beautiful. The word khayraat (fair and good) is derived from the word khayyarah, which refers to the woman who combines all good qualities, both outward and inward, and whose physical appearance and attitude are perfect. So they are good in attitude and fair of face.
Rawdat al-Muhibbeen, p. 243.
Taken from here
Historically in the Indian subcontinent, fair skin was equated with the richer classes and indicated a high social standing. Dark skin was an indicator of being a labourer, the skin darkened due to long exposure to the sun whilst tending to crops or farmings or roadsweeping to name a few. Although obsession with fairness has been proposed to link to the caste system and not completely a result or byproduct of colonial rule. Either way there is
no doubt over the pre-occupation in India and neighbouring countries with fair skin. And it seems to be spreading to other parts of the globe
Does preferring fair skin over olive or dark skin smack of racism? Or is it simply about what one finds attractive? Why is dark skin seen to be un-attractive when there are numerous examples of beautiful black/coloured men and women? Is the preference for fairness still as rampant as ever or with diversity being celebrated as advantageous, has it dampened a little or has it simply fired up the link of fairness with beauty and desirability?
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