Men’s Beauty Products

22 Jun

Before I started writing this piece, I wanted to collect the stats for the sale of men’s fairness creams in India. I had no idea what to type in Google so I started randomly with “Indian obsession with fair skin” and got about 48,000 results in 0.22 seconds. Till that moment I was feeling proud of myself for thinking about ‘something different’ to talk about. But what you WILL see is that all those articles talk about“” Why is it bad to give preference to fair skin “” and here I will talk about“”Why I find it wierd “”. Get the difference??

No matter how much we criticize people for giving preference to pale skin, at a certain level everyone believes that fair is good. It often translates into being beautiful.Traditionally it was women who were obsessed (made to obsess) with fairness as being dark would mean no good marriage proposals. In India, you can insult a women by calling her dark! A typically matrimonial reads like – “Looking for a slim, homely and fair girl for our son”Who is to ask what the son looks like?

I have heard that the children generally inherit the colour of the darker parent simply because black is dominant over white. So if the bahu is fair but son in ‘wheatish’ most probably the kids will be ‘wheatish’ too.
Even though white boys have always been considered ‘handsome’ but male obsession with fairness was never out in the open. I always thought that guys don’t care wether they are dark or otherwise. Infact I even thought that being too fair might be embarrassing for them. And that is why I couldn’t stop laughing when I saw Emami Fair and Handsome back in 2005. I was like “what kind of a man would ever buy a fairness cream?!” Next thing I see is Shahrukh Khan, John Abhrahim and Shahid Kapoor selling facial foams, whitening moisturizers, multi white facial creams lightening, brightening, clearing, whitening, anti-pigmentation, freshening, anti-dullness and illuminating as their success stories. Conclusion : if you are dark, you wont even get a job. Forget girrrls dude! Apparently the men’s fairness products market is estimated at Rs.175 crore (nearly $40 million) and is growing at the rate of 25 percent, while the women’s fairness market is growing at jussst 7 to 8 percent.

I even came across the Kaya Skin Clinic for men’s advertisement which said “grow a beard and hide bad skin or get kayas expert skin care solutions for men” So looks like men not only like fair skin but are even ready to spend the money. As much as it takes. Self grooming is necessary and hygienic. Till perfumes and after shaves is okay. Heck even uni-sex clothes bhi chalega. But what is up with the manicure, pedicure, waxing, threading, hair styling, facials, exotic spa massages, pink fitted clothes and beyond. It’s the uber cool ‘metrosexual’ man. Though I have never met any metrosexual (my dad uses sunscreen. Does that count??) but in my mind metrosexual and homosexual always come together. I know its not true but then the definition of macho is different. Or atleast it used to be.

The preference for fair skin has been exploited by the manufacturers of fairness creams. Nothing wrong in that according to me because they are just selling what people demand. Portraying fair skin as necessary for success is wrong. Experts (doctors and psychologists) say that obsession with fairness is sort of a colonial hangover. Generations have spent their lives under foreign rule. Whether the lighter skinned Aryans ruling over the Dravidians, the beautiful Mughals with light hair and green eyes taking over the Rajputana empires, or the British oppressors. The more powerful one in all cases has been the lighter skinned breed and that is why people tend to idolize the lighter skinned ones amongst us. Perfectly Logical. We still are in awe of gora people. But honestly why cant people understand simple things like sun exposure, melanin and genetics?! Do they honestly believe that a miracle cream can change what god gave them? At 10 Indian Rupees a sachet? Are they least bothered by side effects? According to dermatologists Long-term use of these creams may cause cancer, kidney problem, irritation and disfigure the skin. And no matter how fair you are by Indian standards, once you go abroad, you will still be considered Asian no?

Even though I never discriminate people because they are dark or light, but personally I would prefer being on the fair side. Simply because –
1.It somehow makes me look more clean
2.I don’t have to worry about the colours.
Dark people have to be careful while choosing what colour to wear. I mean wearing bright pink would get tricky! What I love is all those home remedies for removing the tan. Aata, besan, dood, dahi, mala in all permutations and combinations depending on the type of skin. My mother would definitely faint at the idea of acquiring a fake tan. When I was small my grandparents would call me very very fair. Now it has come down to the level of only fairisshh.

Obviously humans are never satisfied with what they have. They always find a reason to be unhappy. Like we want to be fair, the fair people want the perfect tan. It’s considered exotic and beautiful because it is associated with rich people who can afford to go on big beach vacations. Here the lighter skinned people are associated with beauty, royalty and wealth, while the darker skinned people are seen as labor-class, who spend a lot of time working in the sun. A fair bride would thus be a matter of prestige for the family, as it shows that she comes from a wealthy family, and therefore has brought with her immense amounts in dowry.

The obsession with skin colour is so much that we dint even spare Gods. Shiva and Krishna bhagwaan are supposed to be dark coloured in the earthly incarnations(The Sanskrit word kṛṣṇa means black, dark or dark-blue and is used as a name to describe someone with dark skin) but HOW can we have a black god?? Oh my god! Lets make them blue quick and cover it with stories of supernatural.

My favorite part is all the hypocrites criticizing Indian obsession with fair skin. They are generally the hot shot fashion-modeling-acting sorts. All the sudden craze on the international runway scene for Asian and African models is : For lending ethinicity to the ramp and collection.Clothes stand out more on dark skin and are thus noticed better.India Vogue’s latest issue issupposedly tackling colour prejudice within the country with a cover promoting darker skinned models. Yeah right! Is it possible for these barely there girls in barely there clothes to look like that without photoshop? But still it’s a good thing if they trying to change the mindsets because dark girls do have it difficult in a lot of places. Sometimes exactly the way they show in fairness cream ads and movies and serials (saloni ka safar and bidai). But honestly dude for men?? How come all those African American rappers have girls in all colours seducing them? What are they using? Emami black and bling? Looking at the market of 175 crores (which I still cant believe) obviously the manufacturers did the ground studies well before launching you-know-what. According to a recent study by Hindustan Unilever showed how men in southern states and tribal areas are fervent purchasers of whitening creams. *shudder*

What was that….Tall dark handsome huh?? Does that still exist?

“Why hate someone for the color of their skin when there are much better reasons to hate them.”

– Denis leary


6 Responses to “Men’s Beauty Products”

  1. Pawas June 27, 2010 at 1:41 am #

    I think the change in the society is not at all appropriate, the age old saying of Tall Dark and Handsome holds no meaning at all now… this is not justified… Skin colour should not matter, for either girls or boys, i think…Does anyone care about the color of the character? People gave away their lives while fighting against racism and in a way we still have it into our lives…Why doesnt any advertisement say “Change your character color from black to white in 7 days” …. might help the society there…

  2. Adi June 25, 2010 at 1:41 am #

    Its not a surprise to me the the market is flooding with “Men’s fairness products”. I always wondered why do beauty creams advertisements have only females promoting their product and not males…?? why males dont have skin to make fairer or to wash it with a beauty soap or do they not have hair on their heads to wash with sahmpoos??
    men too want to have a fairer skin, a nice well groomed face to look….would any girl like to move around with a werewolf?? no na….so yeah if there are beauty products which can help u achieve the tone of ur skin u want..i think its not a shame to go for it….i dnt think any guy wud have ever thought fairer race ruling ovr the other the other(mentioned in article) because we simply dnt think so deeply before buying a fairness cream..its very true that the while seekin a bride the groom …actually more than the groom i guess its his family dat wants a fairer bahu…but surely the girl too wud like to marry if not fair but a guy with wheatish complexion…

    • chilicheesetoast June 25, 2010 at 2:07 am #

      you are free to buy as many fairness and beauty products as you want but wont you feel embarassed figting for space on dressing table with your wife?

      and its not about thinking about fair rulers just before buying the creams. its a general mindet that you as an indian inherit.

  3. aparna June 22, 2010 at 8:06 am #

    The article made very interesting observations.Very true fair is beautiful for men and women.Empty brain but fair is always welcome.Well things changing but miles to go.Wonder how Will Smith does do well in the U.S!

    • chilicheesetoast June 25, 2010 at 3:00 pm #

      thank you for observing the observations :)
      i dont really blame the big stars cuz its difficult to say no to money…but dont they feel embarassed at all??!
      and not just will smith..african-americans are all over..but seriously thats tooo black even for me!

  4. Sarthak June 22, 2010 at 8:05 am #

    i agree with you….these companies are growing at a very fast rate and u can see a new product in the market in every 3-4 months….which people do try it out coz they are endorsed by big stars…
    whatever product men may use but they will be judged with their work and not by their color…

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