Nanopolitan points me to this link, which to me is indicative of a much deeper bias against dark skin. The Department of Science and Technology, in collaboration with Procter and Gamble has launched the December challenge inviting scientists to come up with skin-whitening solutions more effective than hydroquinone.
To me, the very fact that the Department of Science and Technology of the Government of India is willing to invest money and energy in research to “Equal or better efficacy in reducing facial hyper-pigmented spots or lighten basal skin color tone vs. 2% hydroquinone without notable side effects (e.g., irritation),” is indicative of a deep-seated bias against dark skin and a belief that darkness, pigmentation or tanning are undesirable. While I completely understand research to find effective cures for skin diseases and disorders such as leukoderma, eczemas and acne, I simply do not understand the obvious government sanction for finding ways to make your skin whiter.
I do agree that hyperpigmentation can lead to skin disorders and medical problems sometimes, but from my experience, most young men and women use products such as “Fair & Lovely” just because of the perception that white equals beautiful. I thought that by now, it was a well-established fact that the melanine protects skin from several skin problems and even cancer. Frankly, I would rather be dark and healthy than fair and acne-ridden. I have wheatish skin myself and have never found that to be a handicap. As Abi says at the Nanopolitan, the irony is sometimes too much to take.
What message are we sending out to our children? That only fair is beautiful and that anything less than that is unacceptable? Let’s not get into this fair and lovely trap. Let’s not give something as superficial and irrelevant as skin colour so much importance that a government-sponsored award is given to research on skin-whitening.