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Skin-Whitening Cream For The Private Parts: How Far Will The Fairness Obsession Go?

Posted on April 8, 2012 in Society

By Awanish Shahi:

This kind of issues sets my mind clock ticking, what to say when Indian sub-continent enters 21st century boasting as a global economic power and is still obsessed about colour. We have Bollywood celebrities and sportsmen endorsing skin lightening creams for both outer and unexposed parts of body. This sudden outburst on intimate parts fairness cream commercial is genuine but we need to understand the psychological, economic, cultural as well as historical impetus propelling it.

India which remained a British colony carries the notion that white skin implies higher class and intelligence. Nowadays this notion has taken a shape of ideological liberalization and freedom to choose. The cardinal factor behind choice of this genital and unexposed body area skin tone changing cream is the new force of consumers in India.
A teenage girl of any big city in India sporting a revealing outfit flaunts clean and white underarms, with low waist jeans exposing a sensuous belly button. A working woman picks numerous such creams as she wants to beat the sweat and inflammation in the private parts to remain fresh throughout the day. She knows how ph-balance and skin tone pigmentation can enhance her beauty and in turn revive her life. So she revolutionizes her life by hitting gyms, burning calories, adopting a holistic living approach and transcending into a super fit confident persona of every man’s desire.

Now anticipate of a girl in hinterlands of India who is oblivious to such breakthroughs celebrating femininity. Her rustic dark complexion is a hindrance to good marriage. She cycles to a remote school in scorching sun and helps her mother in household chores. She cooks on a smoke-producing chulhas without giving a single thought to her looks, left alone the whiteness of private parts. A good soap once in a while is all her delight for fairer skin. The words like ph-balance, skin pigments are alien to her. She is unaware of chemical contents of a fairness creams and their side effects. She doesn’t know how to cut weight and get in to shape. Consequently this girl loses the battle of beauty to a city girl, something which is portrayed by the female lead of these cosmetic commercials.

Basically it’s a dichotomy, a private parts whitening commercial can sabotage the dignity of common Indian women and in turn it can be seen as liberalization in terms of choices a modern Indian women enjoys. It’s a solemn issue which sparks many feminist individuals and organizations to voice against this discrimination of Indian women. However many of these individuals and organizations have political aspirations which deviates this movement to an entirely different discussion leaving behind the dignity of a women to struggle. I genuinely believe that other than putting it as mere a topic of discussion on twitter , Facebook and other social networking sites ,it can be blown into a pan-India debate inviting aam junta as well as business tycoons to participate. This debate can help in developing a common view and in turn lead to new change. I have different take on it. In lieu of blowing the whiteness attribute of these cosmetic products they can harp on hygiene and delicate care of the private parts of body.