“What’s in a name?” wrote Shakespeare but little did he know that centuries later Hindustan Unilever (HUL) would actually discredit his words. Hindustan Unilever’s controversial skin lightening product “Fair & Lovely” made it to the headlines yet again. This time it was because HUL to rebrand “fair and lovely”. Interestingly, it took them nearly 45 years to drop that name. Wait, what is this fuss about a cosmetic product that is sold at as low as Rs. 9? Why should we care?
You must have at least once in your life heard about this contrasting comment of Gori Chitti & Kaali Kaluti. Having a preference is not wrong but establishing it as the only way to be and demeaning anything otherwise is problematic. We took our insecurity and habit of imposing them, too seriously. We created a system, an obsession & a cash minting product out of it. Due to this HUL asked to rebrand fair and lovely.
While many credit the “Black lives matter” movement which found a discourse in India too, as the reason for this name change. It would be unfair on our part to credit it as the ‘only’ reason for this judgement. From time and again, Indian creators have come forward to talk about the colour bias that exists in the country in a not so subtle way. There are numerous case studies, research papers & youtube videos that talk about our country’s obsession with fairness. That’s why, HUL asked to rebrand “fair & lovely”. Don’t we all remember those 90s films and those regressive daily soaps where dark skin was the literal definition of mockery and misery?
While we speculate the rebranding of ‘Fair & Lovely’, there are still thousands and thousands of brands that covertly sell us the idea of fairness. They use words like lightning, brightening, white glowing and more to hide behind a veil. A conscious consumer base is the only way to eradicate the societal issue of colour bias in our society.
Next time someone tries to slam a fairness cream on you, turn around and do this.