Unilever Pakistan has announced the renaming of skin whitening cream ‘Fair & Lovely’ with a new name ‘Glow and lovely’ which has previously faced criticism for promoting the negative stereotype about dark skin tones. This is a first step towards the revolutionary skincare portfolio and the ‘Positive Beauty’. The company will stop referring to the words of ‘lightening’ and ‘whitening’ on the products which are sold across Asia. The product with the new name will be on shelves in a few months.
The change is meant to make the brand, which accounts for $500 million in annual revenue, more “inclusive”.
Sunny Jain, President of Beauty & Personal Care at Unilever said,
“We’re committed to a skincare portfolio that’s inclusive of all skin tones, celebrating the diversity of beauty. That’s why we are removing the words ‘fairness’, ‘whitening’, and ‘lightening’ from products, and changing the Fair & Lovely brand name.”
“We recognize that the use of words ‘fair’, ‘white’, and ‘light’ suggest a singular ideal of beauty that we don’t think is right, and we want to address this.”
Unilever Pakistan Chairman and CEO Amir Paracha, speaking on the matter said: “Unilever is an organization that is evolving continuously, and today we have taken the next bold step in our evolution by committing to a more inclusive and diverse portrayal of beauty. This ambition has been in the works for some time with significant steps such as the removal of the dual-faced cameo and shade guides from the packaging of Fair & Lovely in 2019.”
Earlier, Johnson & Johnson said it would stop selling skin-whitening creams.
Crucial Remarks by Unilever’s Spokesperson
In an interview, Unilever spokesperson said, “We also need to respect the fact that all over the world there are different views of what beauty is,” also that the “300 million people choose to buy Fair & Lovely every year. We want to meet the different desires of different consumers around the world safely, and in a positive and inclusive way.”
Factors that Caused a Change in its Name
The Murder of a Black Man, George Floyd
The murder of a black man George Floyd, allegedly by a police officer, in Minneapolis has started protests and outrage all over the world. While in the United States (USA), people are on the streets to protest; in other parts of the world, people are expressing their anger on social media. Celebrities and prominent personalities across the world are also raising their voice on the matter.
South Asian Fairness product companies that have a monopoly in the industry due to the huge revenue they make by using the insecurities of dark-toned people have decided to take a U-turn in their marketing strategy. As the whole world unites, to remove racism against the dark skin tone from the world once and for all.
Celebrities tucking into the Matter
This matter started with a series of tweets about the campaign #BlackLivesMatter. Many celebrities refused to endorse ‘Skin Lightening Products’, to promote the beauty of diversity, preaching the concept that skin color has nothing to do with someone’s beauty.
On this happening, people condemned celebrities for being hypocrites. Saying that they are the ones promoting thousands of skin lightening treatments. Sometimes, following the trend can do more harm than good. All celebrities who endorsed fairness creams and later on Tweeted #BlackLivesMatter were trolled badly by people.
Following are some tweet of Pakistani Celebrities who turned down endorsing fairness products:
Petitions by 3 Women – via BBC
Three women from South Asia urged Unilever to change its product ‘Fair & Lovely’ name. After the outbreak of George Floyd’s murder news, these women started a campaign against color racism.
In just 2 weeks, 13000 people from 94 countries became part of this anti-racism campaign.
The two petitions were:
Petition One: Change.org
Urging Unilever to stop the production of Fair & Lovely!
“This product has built upon, perpetuated, and benefited from internalized racism and promotes anti-blackness sentiments,” one says.
It claimed the cream “tells us that there is something wrong with our color, that we have to be light in order to feel beautiful. In order to feel worthy.”
People’s Reaction on Renaming of Fair & Lovely
People are coming up with all types of reactions. Some people think that it is merely a change in marketing strategies. And such mafias have made people see their insecurities, all they think about is their profit. Others think that at least it is one positive step towards accepting the people in the way they are. People think:
Only a Surface Level Shift
Many on social media are criticizing the announcement as a surface-level shift. It is failing to address concerns over how leading skin-care brands have profited for years from an industry accused of spreading colorism.
People think that such a change does not have anything to do. They will change the name and will keep on the whitened brown person on the face of it? It is as lame as it may seem. People are demanding to stop making the cream!
Can Renaming a Fairness Cream Stop Colorism?
The important question is, is a new name is enough to change the perceptions about skin color that have been held for centuries? When on one hand famous actors and actresses have appeared in advertisements to endorse Fair & Lovely as a means to finding love or a glamorous job. And on the other one, they are merely saying that “black is beautiful’. How would both scenarios have the same impact?
Also, by only removing the word ‘fair’ at the end of the day will make no difference. It will still sell as a fairness cream at the cost of making people with different skin feel inferior.
It’s Still Fairness Cream no Matter What They Call it
While many rejoiced over the announcement, saying it is historic and a huge victory. Bollywood Actress and Director Nandita Das said “she hoped Unilever was sincere in seeking to change the values of the brand, rather than merely repackage “old wine in a new bottle”. What difference does it make when the brand name has changed yet the ingredients are still the same?
Ever since 1975, when it first hit the market, millions of tubes are bought every year by teenagers and young women in a country where lighter skin is routinely equated as beauty.
People say that the attempt is fair, but does it really enough?
Neither ‘Fair’ nor ‘Lovely’, People Demanded
People are making remarks, that selling the cream in a new bottle is another name for hypocrisy! If we want to end racism totally this step won’t really work.
Funny Memes and Jokes have taken over Social Media
Now, funny memes and jokes have taken over social media. Nevertheless, memes are always there to make LOL on social media. “‘Fair & Lovely’ renamed as ‘Glow & Lovely’. The world is finally a better place,” a user said.
Some People are Buying it; And it’s their Choice
As the spokesperson of Unilever said ‘that every year 300 million people choose to buy Fair & Lovely because everyone has his own definition of ‘beautiful’. So, if someone is not happy with its skin color, that person should not be judged in any way. Everyone should have freedom of choice!
The company hasn’t said anything about discontinuing any of its product. Still it can be the first and the liberating step towards a world that will be ‘Free from racism’. With togetherness and determination, we can go far. Have hope!