When does India's obsession with Westerners end?
panorama : Obsessed with white
Fair-skinned - that is how the future bride should be. This is in almost every marriage announcement paved in India's newspapers on weekends. Even almost 65 years after the British colonial rulers left, the subcontinent still seems obsessed with white skin. This increases not only the marriage but also the job chances. Millions of Indian women regularly abuse themselves with bleaching creams in order to get a fair complexion, although it is not even certain that pastes and masks are even effective and that they contain many dangerous chemicals such as mercury. But that doesn't detract from the delusion.
While many pale Westerners grill themselves on the beaches of this world and risk skin cancer, wrinkles and dermis, smeared themselves with self-tanners or sizzle under turbo tanners, in India all warnings from dermatologists cannot stop reaching for the bleaching cream. In India alone, the market is said to be worth well over 400 million dollars - and the trend is rising. It is now difficult to find cosmetics without bleaching chemicals. The media and advertising industry are doing their best to fuel the obsession. Dozens of commercials flicker across the screens every day to instill Snow White in the Indian women as an ideal of beauty.
Whether in magazines, films or advertisements - only the alabaster whites are lucky, be it in the form of a husband, a job or a tennis trophy. On the other hand, the golden brown beauty remains lonely, alone and unsuccessful and, disregarded by the world of men, looks towards a sad fate as an old maid.
At the same time, more and more bleaching products are flooding the country - for the eye area, for the face, for the body, and even deodorants for radiant white armpits are available. The men's world does not go away empty-handed either. Cosmetics companies have long been offering them their own product lines. Several years ago, Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan recommended a young man in a commercial to use bleaching cream to attract the attention of women,
But now the bleaching industry has discovered a new, hitherto undeveloped region from which it is hoping for a new boom: the “private parts”, as the genital area is described in English. Recently, advertising professionals in the women's world have been unashamedly fooling into the fact that this is a real problem. And promptly present a remedy: a washing lotion.
But that goes too far for many women. They consider the product to be an unacceptable blow below the belt, and a corresponding commercial sparked a storm of indignation. Shown is a young Indian woman who looks sad because her shame zone is as dark as the coffee she stirs in, and her husband prefers to have fun with the newspaper. Only when she reaches for the bleaching intimate lotion does the kick and happiness return. Suggestively, she lets the car key disappear into her short shorts, as she can now lure with presentable white. Her husband laughs and takes her in his arms.
But the ladies have lost their laughter. "My vagina is not happy about the recent events in the Indian media," said Elle author Deepanjana Pal, and at the same time impaled double standards that put the female intimate zone at the center of a TV commercial, but makes it taboo, the word im Mouth. “This is the ultimate insult. Skin bleaching for the vagina, ”said Rupa Subramanya from the Wall Street Journal. And those were the more subtle reactions from women.
The mania is by no means limited to India. In other Asian countries, too, but also in the Caribbean, Arab and African regions, light skin is seen as the ideal of beauty in many places - and whitening products are crowding the shelves.
Stopping the trend, however, is difficult. Dark skin is like a blemish in India and is considered ugly. The roots go back a long way in history. Not only the British, but also former rulers of India such as the Mughals had a fairer complexion. To this day, white skin is associated with nobility, status, money and power. The poor, on the other hand, toiled in the sun in the fields and mostly had darker skin.
To this day, dark-skinned Indians experience the consequences on a daily basis. They are treated with less respect, have worse job and career opportunities, are discriminated against and teased at school and at work. Especially on the marriage market, dark skin depresses the value massively and can even ruin the marriage with a “good match”.
So the boom continues. Almost every better-heeled Indian woman uses bleaching creams, masks, soaps or pills today. Even desperately poor families spend their rupees on lighter skin. Even in the last village you can find the inevitable tube "Fair & Lovely", the market leader of Hindustan Unilever, in the kiosk. Many beauty salons mix their own secret tinctures, the ingredients of which are beyond control.
Dermatologists aren't happy with the growing bleaching trend. Her association warns that many of these creams are dangerous. And nobody knows what is really in the jars, since in India the ingredients only have to be declared for medicines. Some substances would probably simply be banned in Europe. Redness, irritation, and rashes are the more harmless consequences. Sometimes the skin is permanently speckled, loses its natural pigmentation or even darkens. Even kidney damage should be triggered by the means.
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