Unfair Promotion of Whitening Creams: Is Beauty No More Skin Deep?

© Media Watch 10 (2) 365-373, 2019

ISSN 0976-0911 e-ISSN 2249-8818

DOI: 10.15655/mw/2019/v10i2/49635


Unfair Promotion of Whitening Creams: Is Beauty No More Skin Deep?

Gajendra Singh Chauhan & AakretI Tiwari

BITS Pilani, India


Fairness industry is a multi-billion business endorsing the notion that being ‘fair’ is beautiful and being ‘dusky’ is always risky. This article explores how the advertising of fairness cream belittles the existence of women in India. Focusing on the promotion of whitening brands as a case study, the authors bring out the contradictions and unverifiable assertions in the marketing philosophy of beauty, the social obsession, the aspirations of young men and women, the Bollywood glamour, and the darker side of fairness. It is appalling to see the reckless promotional campaigns even when the tons of whitening tubes cannot change what is genetically determined by the amount of melanin in the skin. Such advertising campaigns of whitening creams and their strategies rob not only the consumers of their self-esteem but also infuse a false sense of inferiority and guilt. The article seeks to understand the marketing campaigns of whitening creams and suggests that their advertising appeals can be altered to salvage the image of Indian women whose survival is not just confined to the skin tone. It further urges the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI)1 to have stringent guidelines to check the representation of stereotypical assumptions of women and their social status in advertisements.

Keywords: Gender, fairness, advertising, society, celebrity endorsements, brands


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Gajendra Singh Chauhan (Ph.D., Devi Ahilya University, Indore, 2004) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at BITS Pilani, Pilani-333031, India. He specializes in applied linguistics, advertising communication, and media writing with a focus on the linguistics of advertising in India.

Aakreti Tiwari is pursuing an MBA with BITS Pilani, and currently interning as Product Efficiency Engineer with Maybank MBB Labs Pvt. Ltd. Her interest areas are Indian culture, society, and history. Email: gsc@pilani.bits-pilani.ac.in