“Being Fair” is a new trend. All the girls having dark or dull skin complexion want to have fair skin tone. The concept is that “dark skin is associated with labor and field work in the sun. white skin has colonial notion of power and superiority”. (Shankar and Subish, 2017). Earlier, this differentiation between dark and fair women was done mostly in US, but then this concept started spreading in the world. It is considered that the “light skin operates as a form of symbolic capital, one that is especially critical for women because of the connection between skin tone and attractiveness.” (Glenn, 2008). This concept is further promoted by advertisements. They do this for the sake of their business in order to have profit, not knowing its effect on the society. The advertisements played by the companies of fairness products play a great role in the discrimination between women of light and dark skin complexions. They link the light tone with modernity, social mobility and youth through print, internet and television ads. (Glenn, 2008). Due to this concept, the women with darker skin tone feel suppressed and buy fairness products to get rid of dark skin complexion. Although these fairness creams contain mercury and might cause skin cancer, still they use these creams to avoid the humiliation they will have to face in the society due to that dark color. “The people’s judgements about other people are literally colored by skin tone, so that darker skinned individuals are viewed as less intelligent, trustworthy, and attractive than their lighter skinned counterparts.” (Herring, Keith and Horton 2003; Hunter 2005; Maddox 2004; Glenn 2008). The fairness cream companies take benefit of this weakness of women and release advertisements which show the superiority and dominance of fair complexion.
The objective of this study is to study the effects of advertisements made by different companies of fairness creams, and also that how they influence the social acceptance of women in the society.
The significance of this research is to make people aware about what these fairness cream companies are doing and how they are creating discrimination between fair and dark skin tones. The concept of superiority of fair skin color over dark one is continuously spreading in Pakistan, due to which women having dark skin complexion have to face many complexities in the society. The basic purpose of this research is to make people aware so that this concept might be changed.
As far as the method is concerned, the theory of Norman Fairclough was applied. Taglines of different Pakistani fairness cream commercials were taken. Those taglines were first described and then interpreted. After that, explanation was given using the data that was collected by the questionnaires, through pie charts. Questionnaires were distributed among the female students of a university, between the age of 18 to 25. After that, the conclusion was given.
What are the effects of advertisements made by the different companies of fairness creams and how do they influence the social acceptance of women in society?
People judge other people on the basis of their skin tone. They view dark people as less intelligent, less trustworthy, and less attractive. (Herring, Keith & Horton 2003; Hunter 2005; Maddox 2004; Glenn 2008). Such concepts make women feel suppressed and then they use the fairness creams to get rid of this situation of being judged negatively, knowing that it might cause cancer because they contain mercury, as it is claimed by Glenn (2008) that the effective whitening products contain highly toxic ingredients like mercury or lead. Both of these materials can cause skin cancer because they are highly toxic specially for our skin.
Glenn (2008) claims that light skin tone is connected to attractiveness. This is exactly the concept that is promoted in advertisements by the companies of the fairness creams to sell their products. They give the idea that somehow, dark color is related to or is cause of failure, as it is mentioned above that dark people are somehow considered to be less attractive and less trustworthy. This makes women use their products in order to have fairer skin tone and avoid humiliation in the society. This idea is also being promoted among men as well these days and they are also using creams for same purpose but in this article, we will talk about women only.
The advertisements played by the companies of the fairness creams somehow cause discrimination between dark and fair women. As it is claimed by Glenn (2008) that these companies link light skin tone with modernity, social mobility and youth through different media. They show that you need to have a fair skin tone if you need to get a job or that won’t get married until you have lighter skin tone or fair complexion.
In Pakistan, dark color complexion is not usually considered good. As it is claimed by Shankar and Subish (2017), dark skin is linked with “labor and field work in the sun”, and light skin color is linked with “power and superiority”. This concept is also getting common in Pakistan now that most of the people consider dark complexion to be a color of slavery, whereas, white color is considered to be dominant and is linked with elite or ruling class.
The research on this topic specifically for Pakistan has not been done before, so this article mainly focuses on the effects of advertisements made by companies of the fairness creams on women of Pakistan. And also, that how they influence the social acceptance of women in Pakistani society.
The purpose of this research was to study that either social acceptance depends upon fairness, or both are considered equal. And how the advertisements of the fairness creams affect the thoughts and opinions of people regarding different skin tones. Norman Fairclough’s three-dimensional theory was applied for the analysis. First of all, tag lines of different fairness creams that are famous in Pakistan were taken. They were then described and interpreted. And in the end, explanation through questionnaires was made.
Description and Interpretation
Tagline#1: Tension na lo, gorapan chahiye to Nisa lo
Description: In this advertisement, it is shown that you need to be fair if you want to be noticed. A girl in this advertisement, who uses Nisa fairness cream, is walking in the street and all the guys are noticing and admiring her, whereas, all the girls are being jealous of her. It also tells that you’re pretty if you are extra fair and your skin is free of spots.
Interpretation: This advertisement is promoting the idea that if you are not fair, if your skin color is dull, and if you have got spots on your skin, you will not be noticed by others. It is also promoting that dark color is something to be worried about, as the tag line defines “tension na lo”. Another idea that is being given in this advertisement is that you are not pretty if your skin color is not extra fair.
It is a fact that most of the people want to be noticed by others. The women who are sensitive regarding this issue will be affected and will start using this cream, thinking that dark color is not good and that after using this cream, they will be noticed by other people.
Tagline#2: Current fairness, for a beautiful you
Description: In this advertisement, again the idea of being noticed is given. A girl with extra fair skin tone is walking in the street and all the men and women are noticing and admiring her. The song that is played in the background says that she is the first ray of early morning, moreover, she is being called a fairy. And they are also claiming that this cream gives you 10 times more fairness than ordinary fairness. And the tagline suggests that you are beautiful if you are extra fair, as it says “for a beautiful you”.
Interpretation: This this advertisement, the idea that is being given is that if you are not extra fair, you will not be noticed. It is also being shown that because the girl is so fair, she is being called first ray of sunshine and a fairy who is very beautiful. Other than this, a strange concept is being given here that ordinary fairness is also not enough. You need to be extra fair in order to look extra-ordinary, because the girl in this advertisement is already fair and is still using a fairness cream. This cream can have an extremely negative effect on girls having dark skin complexion, because if ordinary fairness is also not enough, then they won’t be acceptable in the society at all.
Tagline#3: Rivaj whitening cream, kyun k khoobsurat hain aap
Description: Right in the beginning of this advertisement, a girl is telling that do not let dullness and dark skin come between you and success, because it may decrease your beauty. And also, that dark skin color will result in the lack of confidence, so you must use this whitening cream in order to be safe from all these problems “of having dark and dull skin complexion”. And in the end, they are calling the girl beautiful because she is fair.
Interpretation: In this advertisement, they are clearly saying that dark and dull skin complexion is a hindrance between you and success and it is the reason for lack of confidence. They are calling dark skin color as a problem, and are saying that you are beautiful if you are fair. It means that they are saying, if your complexion is dark, then you are not beautiful.
Some women are very sensitive and this advertisement can affect them very negatively. Even if they do not lack confidence, this advertisement can make them think that they are not beautiful and that people will judge them for having dark complexion due to which they can lose their confidence.
Tagline#4: Dilkash chehra, kal se behtar aaj. (Stiva whitening cream)
Description: In this advertisement, it is shown that if there is an ambition to win hearts of the people, if there is a dream to become something, if there is a desire to do something big in your life, if there is a passion to touch the heights of the sky, if there is a desire to fulfill the dreams, you must use Stiva whitening cream, because you need to be fair to do all this. And in the end, they are calling girls with fair skin complexion attractive.
Interpretation: In this advertisement, women of different professions have been shown and then they are saying that to be successful in any field, you need to have a fair skin complexion. Indirectly, it is giving the idea that it is not easy to fulfill these tasks if you do not have a fair skin complexion or if your skin color is dark. This advertisement can have a negative effect on girls having dark complexion. It can make them lose confidence in themselves.
Tagline#5: Jo lagaye goree whitening cream, wo rahe umr bhar haseen.
Description: In this advertisement, it is shown that a girl having fair skin complexion comes at a function and people start admiring her that how she has got such a fair skin and that her face is so beautiful. And in the end, they give the idea that you need to be fair to look beautiful.
Interpretation: The idea that is given here is that if you want to look beautiful, you need to have white skin complexion. They have shown in this advertisement that a fair skin, free of spots and pimples is beautiful. This idea can also affect the ideas of people negatively about dark skin complexion.
Here 19% women have strongly agreed, 37% have agreed, 9% gave neutral response, 9% disagreed and 26% have strongly disagreed. Although the percentage of those who strongly disagree cannot be over looked, the percentage of those who have agreed with the statement is still greater. Hence, majority of women agree that fair skin color is superior as compared to other skin color.
The purpose of this research was to see if social acceptance depends upon fairness or not and what is the role of advertisements of fairness creams in this concept. Through the description and interpretation of the taglines of some of the fairness cream, it is clear that the companies of the fairness creams are creating a difference between women having dark and fair skin complexions. They are showing that white skin color is necessary in almost every field of life and it is also important if you want to attract the attention of others. And from the data that was collected through questionnaires, it was seen that majority of women believe that fair skin color is considered more attractive as compared to dark skin color. Majority agreed that fairness creams are causing discrimination between dark and fair skin colors. They agreed that fair skin color give an edge in getting a good job and people mostly judge women on the basis of their skin complexion. Most of the women agreed that dark skin color is a hindrance in marriage. They also agreed that advertisements of the fairness creams affect the judgements and thoughts of people.
Although, majority of the women disagreed with a statement that the success of women depends upon their skin color. Hence, it can be said that in Pakistan, women are being affected by the concept being spread by the companies of fairness creams through advertisements that fair skin color is superior as compared to other skin colors and that social acceptance is proportional to fairness.