On a fairly lighter side of things (pun intended), we have some great inspirational news from the other part of the world.
East African country Rwanda, has officially banned skin lightening and bleaching products and we couldn't be happier about the country's decision. The government is now sending officials around the country to enforce the ban more openly.
The country is leading a campaign against skin bleaching and similar substandard cosmetics, especially products that include hydroquinone, a skin-lightening agent, in it. After all, it took an African country to stand up against some very intangible and ridiculous beauty standards that have been placed in high regard, almost all over the world.
"It is been implemented by the Ministry of Health and the Rwanda Food and Drug Authority and the Rwanda Standards Board," Simeon Kwizera, the PR and communications officer for the board told a popular publication.
He also mentioned that the operations are being handled by technical people and that the police are ensuring all safety standards, while the operations are ongoing.
The initiative was sparked by President Paul Kagame on social media, when he started a discussion on the need to ban skin whitening products, way back in November 2018.
Well, it's a terrific move by the Rwanda government as they've realised the crucial health hazards that a chemical like hydroquinone can pose, even today. Yes, it's been given a green signal all across the globe but it's still designed to unnaturally change skin pigmentation, so it can be determined at hazardous.
While Rwanda has taken a stand towards the unethical standards of beauty, India is still lagging far behind in this sphere. The most Googled content on the internet in India still spells 'best fairness cream in India'. There's also a lot of search on 'why is India obsessed with fair skin'.
A very paradoxical situation for a diverse country like ours, where 'let's scrub off that tan' is a very common thought process for most girls who go to beauty parlours. Matrimonial columns and sites still want a 'beautiful fair girl' for all the 'handsome, tall and dusky' boys out there, and most of these expectations make people, boys and girls alike, obsess with fairer skin.
We still don't understand though where this obsession comes from, but it definitely creates an imbalance that is bred amidst apathy and entitlement in our country.
I mean. you need fairer skin to feel more confident and whole and if you don't possess it, you need to apply dozens of fairness creams and bleaches, with a heap load of chemicals in it, to magically transform your pigment to a lighter one. And it's not done for fun or for the sake of looking beautiful! No! It's done under immense pressure, to stand out in society and maybe get an equal opportunity somewhere!
Advertisements showcasing the need to use these creams, wherein a girl who goes for an interview, or is performing on stage doesn't do well unless she starts using a fairness cream to become more confident and voila! she's the best dancer or the best candidate, henceforth!
Not only that, there's a fairness cream for men doing popularly well and is marketed in South India, endorsed by the likes of Shah Rukh Khan, John Abraham and Siddarth Malhotra, and young boys are drawn to it like a moth to the flame.
Although some celebrities like Abhay Deol and Nawazuddin Siddiqui have condemned the use of fairness products, we have a larger chunk of celebrities still endorsing it for even a larger audience.
Thank U 4 making me realise dat I cannot b paired along wid d fair & handsome bcz I m dark & not good looking, but I never focus on that.— Nawazuddin Siddiqui (@Nawazuddin_S) 17 July 2017
The fact of the matter is the awakening for a secure sense of being has to come from within and not from TV commercials, other people's standards of beauty or even your own conditioning.
Even if you're conditioned into believing dark-skinned people have to try harder in the society, there's a way to break that belief system and unravel positive thoughts towards 'just and equality' in your own psyche.
We really wish the Indian Government administers a similar ban as Rwanda has, but I guess we have way bigger issues to tackle right now and it may take time to do so.
But here's hoping we slowly realise the redundancy for this obsession and take a stance on equal standards of lifestyle and beauty and build progress in a unidirectional fashion, together.