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Will the ban in fairness cream advertisements help end the fairness complex end in Pakistan?

‘Gora hoga Pakistan’ and ‘Husn ki shorowat rangat sein hoti hain’ are statements almost

every Pakistani girl has heard while watching television. These racist, problematic statements have subconsciously been ingrained into the minds of young girls and has in most cases shattered the confidence of a dark-skinned girl. It has affected all groups present in Pakistan including the rich, poor, educated and the illiterate, no one is protected from the fairness complex. In order to maintain sales, firms producing skin whitening products reinforce the fairness prejudice in Pakistan through regressive and racist advertisements. Hence success in removing the fairness complex can only be achieved if the constant reinforcer is eliminated.

Majority of the advertisements promoting skin whitening creams are made around the same theme. Browned skinned girls are not only portrayed as being less beautiful but they are also shown to be facing life problems due to the color of their skin. The problems include not being able to find a job, not given attention at a social gathering and losing sports competitions. However once the girl puts on the cream she not only becomes fair but she is overcoming every obstacle and being the center of attention. These advertisements emphasis the role of beauty, which in this case is judged by the skin color, in determining a girl’s life chances or in other words make a direct link

between the caliber of the person and their skin color. This concept adopted by most mainstream firms, for example a well known brand, fair and lovely has made multiple advertisements showing women doing empowering acts and breaking the stereotypes of the Pakistani society. In one of their recent advertisements, they show girls riding motorcycles, climbing mountains and being part of sport’s teams, all things generally considered a taboo in Pakistan. All these advertisements seem like they are showcasing empowered women, so why is it a problem. The problem is that while encouraging women to be free they are putting shackles of the fairness complex on them. They are making a direct coloration between fairness and success in fields where the looks of a person have no significance. These companies also hire famous actresses for

their advertisements so that people are manipulated into making links between success and skin color. Faiza beauty cream, another skin whitening product, hired Ayeza Khan, one of the biggest Pakistani celebrity with over 11 million followers on Instagram, most of them being young girls. In the advertisement Ayeza Khan gives credit to Faiza beauty cream for her success and even her confidence. We can only begin to imagine how negatively this must have affected a brown skinned girl who had dreams of success in areas which she thought had nothing to do with the way she looked.

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