FMCG giant Hindustan Unilever has dropped the name ‘Fair’ from its (in)famous skin-whitening cream ‘Fair and Lovely’. After years of anti-colorism petitions and protests against racial prejudice, HUL has said that it wants to make its skin care portfolio more “inclusive” and celebrate “a more diverse portrayal of beauty.”
The woman who has triggered this change is 22-year old Chandana Hiran, who started a petition on Change.org, demanding that Fair & Lovely change their narrative after years of regressive advertisements and branding. While there is no direct mention of her petition in Unilever’s statement, she has garnered massive support with nearly 15,000 signatures in just two weeks.
In an interview to a media publication, Chandana has said, “It's absurd how so many girls of my skin colour find almost no representation of their skin tone in popular culture. I find no leading actresses of my colour, I find no magazines or ads endorsing my skin colour. Even filters on social media platforms and photo editing sites constantly focus on making you look fairer.”
Chandana was inspired by conversations around the Black Lives Matter protests that were triggered by police violence against black people in America.
Appreciating HUL’s decision, she tweeted, "I have goosebumps as I read this! Kudos to you @Unilever I'm so so happy right now. And I thank you on behalf of over 10k people who signed my petition for this to happen." (sic)
I have goosebumps as I read this! Kudos to you .@Unilever I'm so so so happy rn. And I thank you on behalf of over 10k people who signed my petition for this to happen - https://t.co/EW7RjBTk6r #Unreal #ThankYou #AllShadesAreLovely
— Chandana Hiran (@chandana_hiran) June 25, 2020
The new name for the product will be out after regulatory approvals, and the pack will be available in the market in the next few months.
Obsession with fairness
Skin lightening cosmetics have a huge audience in India that encourages the obsession with being fair-skinned. Brands like Fair & Lovely also project two faces showing skin care transformation in their advertisements. There are also shade guides to show improvement, and how it is directly proportional to achieving success. Movements like Dark is Beautiful campaign have been actively protesting against this trend for years.
According to HUL’s statement, the India unit, in which the company owns a 67% stake, it had shifted from such marketing in 2019, and would continue to feature women of different skin tones.
“In 2019, we reflected this evolution on the Fair & Lovely pack in India, removing before-and-after impressions and shade guides that could indicate a transformation; and we have progressed all communication of product benefits towards glow, even tone, skin clarity, and radiance,” said Unilever, in its statement.
(Edited by Athira Nair)