In the last few months, most of us have been horrified and flummoxed by certain advertisements on television about how womankind should strive for fairer underarms and vagina to attract more men or to rejuvenate a sagging relationship. Some of these adverts found their way into various cartoon channels as well, although how they bamboozled their way into a kid’s zone is as perplexing as their existence.
I really do not have anything against fairness products. Its how they are marketed is what I find detrimental.
Pick up a matrimonial column in a newspaper and it will be splashed with black ink asking for fair brides. How a fair bride will be more intelligent, loving and supportive than a dark-skinned bride is beyond me, but somehow Indians have stood their ground since decades – the whiter the bride, the bigger the trophy. Add to this, the humiliating portrayal of dark-skinned women by fairness products advertisements. In a society which has left no stone unturned to humiliate women – whether by female feticide, rapes, molestation and dowry deaths, do the fairness product companies realize the harm they are doing by portraying dark-skinned women as undesirable? Do they realize the mental trauma and pressure some of the women go through so that they could be suitable and enviable? Add the sword of fairness to their social conditioning, and we have a perfect recipe of disaster for an average Indian woman whose idea of being broad-minded is to wear jeans. Of course there are women in India, who are liberal enough to see through the farce, but they are a very tiny minority. To capitalize on the confidence demolishing activity, talcum powders have joined the circus too. There is an advert on television now-a-days where a woman starts glowing like radium after touching her face with talcum powder!
To add to the pain, the fairness product companies have regrettably upped their own bar of the mockery of the average Indian. A white face glowing like a neon signboard is not enough to make your man interested in you. The women should have underarms and vagina glowing like tube lights. If you have dark underarms, people are going to shun you. You will have a massive inferiority complex. Apply the deodorant and you can tie your arms above your head so that everyone can see the bright flashes emancipating from your underarms. Apply the magic cream around your vagina and your man will return to you.
And it’s not just women. Upping the bar includes adding men to the charade. There are rippling effects. In a revealing article in Times of India, there are a lot of men now who are going for expensive underarm surgeries which basically paralyze the sweat glands. In fact the ratio of men going for such surgeries is more than the women. We have men’s fairness creams in the market now endorsed by superstars. I will not be surprised if soon we are ushered into the era of fairer buttocks and whiter balls.
Another aspect of such negative and demoralizing advertizing is the portrayal of men as animals filled with lust for white skin. We are shown as someone who is shallow, who gives more importance to outer beauty and who thinks white is superior. We are shown wagging our tails after woman who glows. No, we are not that dumb. Well, a lot of us aren’t. Love is not a subset of skin color. We like gifted women, who have a mind of their own. Believe me, if a woman would ever try to attract us by showing us her milky white underarms, we would die laughing. We might also take a picture of her, title it “EPIC FAIL” and post it on Facebook. Let me state that a lot of us laugh at the disturbingly vivid imagination of the creators of such adverts.
It’s not only women who are tormented by such advertisements. Numerous deodorants are projected as aphrodisiac. A man need to spray a deodorant and women from far-flung countries, planets (!) and even angels would descend in hoards to sleep with him. And so we have women falling over each other to get a bite of the poor guy, who will be scared shitless with so many women hovering above him. Excuse me, but isn’t a deodorant somehow related to removing body odour? Here again the advertisements show women in poor light. They are so dense, that all you need is a deodorant costing Rs 150 to get them in your bed. Chivalry anyone?
Sometimes I wonder whether such companies ever think about the damage they are doing while selling their products. Do they ever think that they are pushing a lot of men and women towards depression and low self-esteem, thriving on their insecurities like a virus? They are signifying that you are not good enough without our products; you will end up a loser if you do not polish your underarms, if you do not use our deodorants. They are asking everyone to applause the surface.
It is not as if there is no other go. Responsible advertising is always an option. Being sensitive to your target population is definitely not out of fashion. But then, the companies have to decide the level to which they are willing to lower themselves.
And to make someone feel bad about herself to sell your product is the lowest you can stoop.
[image from 1]