The Dilemma To Use or Not to Use Fairness & Tan Creams

4 min read

Rhea Rastogi
As an aspiring filmmaker, I am a girl who is all for art and creativity. Cinema, storytelling, music, travel, and curious about human behavior.

“Do this”, “No, no, don’t do this”, “Do it like this, girl, this is what is the best for you” – Too many suggestions, too many opinions on what a girl should do and should not do. Basically every decision of a girl invites an ocean of opinion. From body-shaming to fit-shaming, what to wear to what not to wear, how to sit, how to eat, how to behave publicly – there are just too many opinions. One such decision is whether to use or not to use beauty creams. 

There has been this entire debate around whether women should or should not use beauty creams. Big brands, activists, actors, all have been a part of this debate, except for women themselves. As a part of the patriarchal society, we still try to tell women what is and what is not right for them, as if women do not have intelligence enough to decide for their own. 

Do not get me wrong, I am not here to promote the complexes that some brands and the society tries to develop in a girl, compelling her to use any kind of beauty cream. What I am trying here to put up as an argument is why do not we leave this decision on our girls? Why do not we try to help build themselves as secure human beings and then let them have the choice to experiment with their beauty and body? Why do not we let our girls decide beauty standards for themselves, making sure that nothing is coming out of any kind of insecurity? Why do we try to shame any girl, who is fully confident and secure about her beauty, trying to simply experiment and try how she would look if she was a bit fairer or darker? 

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Having said that, I do understand the implications of beauty creams in a society which constantly installs a certain kind of complex in a girl on the basis of her natural skin tone. Being a dusky girl, I have a lot of times been compared to girls who were fairer, have been advised to not play outside in the sun, have been flooded with nuskhe to make my skin fairer, and yes, I have used fairness creams to make skin white as milk, all out of immense insecurity and complex. But I was not born with this complex, no one is. We do not come out of our mother’s womb with any kind of insecurities and complexes. It is the society that installs these beauty standards and ideas of beauty inside our heads. Therefore, instead of talking about the mere problem of availability of a certain product in the market, I want to go to the root-cause of this problem, because after all the supply of a product increases only when there is demand in the society. 

Problem in the Root-Cause

Imagine this – when a child is born, from where does it learn the concept or idea of beauty? Technically speaking, all human beings have broadly the same biological structures; neither are any person’s talents or capabilities dependent on what their skin tone is, nor on what their size is. Then from where do all these complexes and insecurities related to body and skin colour come? The answer is simple – societal standards of beauty. History is a witness of how societies across the world have been obsessed with fair skin, and have not only considered anyone other than fair as not beautiful enough, but also as incapable and unskilled. From a young age a lot of girls, even if they are fair, are told not to play a lot in the sun as they will get dark. This makes the girl think if being dark is not a good thing. 

Then is the debate of whether or not to use beauty creams. Now in such a case, where this wish of using a beauty cream is coming out of insecurity, I do not support the use of beauty creams. Reason being, no one girl in this world deserves to put layers of creams on her face to fit a beauty box made by the society. Instead, the society should clear the cream of shallow beauty standards off its specs and look at the world in a more inclusive, kind and in all nature’s diversity. 

In such cases, the implications of beauty creams can be very harmful to the self-esteem and confidence of the girl. The constant use of such creams can convince the girl that her beauty depends solely on a product and that she without it is not beautiful enough. 

Impact of Beauty Creams Advertisements

Even though it is the society that creates a demand for beauty creams and hence, their supply enables in the market, these advertising companies and brands are also a part of the society. So when we say that the society is responsible for creating complexes and insecurities in young girls, these advertisements are also to be blamed. Most of the advertisements that promote beauty creams do not base their ad on the basis of experimentation, but rather on the insecurities of people regarding their skin tone, just to fill their pockets. Most of the beauty creams industries en-cash over the insecurities of the consumers. They comment on how being of a certain skin colour can be hampering to a person’s personal and professional life. 

They promote the idea of a certain skin tone being superior to any other skin tone, and set that as a standard of beauty. For example, a girl in most of the beauty creams advertisements is shown as unhappy while she is dark, and when she gets fair she suddenly becomes happy and successful. This leads to the deepening of the engraved insecurities and does immense harm to the person’s self-esteem.

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On the other hand, if a beauty cream is advertised by being inclusive of all skin tones and just as a cream that one can apply if they want to experiment with their skin tone, then the impact of such advertisements can boost up a person’s self-esteem, as they will feel included in the idea of beauty.

It is difficult to break away the constructs and ideas created by society around beauty, and it is commendable when a lot of girls do that, but the point is why the need to fight arises in the first place. In a society where a woman puts up her armour and fights various social issues like patriarchy every day, we should at least give our women the relief of letting them be comfortable in their own skins, without any judgements.