Actor Abhay Deol has spoken out against top stars such as Shahrukh Khan and Deepika Padukone endorsing fairness creams. I do not know whether Deol has refused such offers in the past like Kangana Ranaut. Even if he has, it would have been much easier to say no, as I am sure his charges would be pittance compared to Khan’s, Padukone’s or Ranaut’s. As a matter of fact, there is always a grey area about the intentions of fading or failing celebrities espousing a social cause to turnaround bit of the disappearing spotlight. If Gautam Gambhir feels so strongly about our jawans and sacrifices of the Army, he should join them in Kashmir, rather than don IPL colours.

The big question is: Are our top stars being “racist” by backing a distorted mindset that fair is superior? Are they appealing to a baser instinct that differentiates humans based on the colour of their skin? Is this distasteful post truth advertising? I do not think so. If it were so, the catchline should have been bleached and lovely. And if fair girls were such an asset, northern states such as Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, Delhi, the supposed home to “white” Indians would not report the worst sex ratios in the whole world. The professed “dark” states Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, on the other hand, are at the top, in terms of number of girls born per thousand boys.

Indeed, fairness products are just a minuscule part of a global multi-billion industry dedicated to looking better, mostly for women, increasingly for men. There is sound business proposition at work here, which is nobody is born perfect; hence there are corrective options for everybody, tall or short, fat or slim, fair or dark, including the very tricky cosmetic surgery. A darker person can aspire to be a little fairer, just as a pale white-skinned man/woman may want to look toasted.

On the other hand, if an individual is comfortable with the way he or she looks, so be it. Marketers will continue to find niche areas to push their products, piggybacking on a Khan or Padukone, to deliver real or imagined results. In all fairness, they are at best being opportunists rather than racist. The beauty and fashion business fetish for size zero gaunt and emaciated models can do much more harm to the way a young girl may view herself. It is true that in the Indian matrimonial context, being fair is an attribute, for sure. But, not more or less than height, degree from an IIT or IIM, salary, background. Indeed, to see skin colour as a definitive and sole benchmark for selecting or rejecting a bride or groom, is incorrect. It is belittling our intelligence and ability to select a partner.

There are too many factors, more than just the skin deep, that determine wedlock. So, who would you choose as a life partner? A fair girl who is fat or a dark girl who is slim? A six feet plumber or a much shorter man who is a management graduate. On the other hand we also know that love can transcend colour, religion, caste and economic status.

Further, it is never a good idea to deride pure looks. Stunners deserve a place in the world as much as any body else. Stand alone beauty can definitely open some doors.

For instance, it can land Melania a billionaire Trump. On the other hand there is Michele Obama as well. Black, beautiful, graceful, eloquent and a role model for millions of girls around the world.

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