FMCG giant Hindustan Unilever has dropped the name ‘Fair’ from its (in)famous skin-whitening cream ‘Fair and Lovely’. After years of anti-colorism petitions and protests against racial prejudice, HUL has said that it wants to make its skincare portfolio more “inclusive” and celebrate “a more diverse portrayal of beauty.” The woman who has triggered this alteration is 22-year old Chandana Hiran, who started a petition on Change.org, demanding that Fair & Lovely change their narrative after years of regressive advertisements and branding. While there's no direct mention of her petition in Unilever’s statement, she has garnered massive support with nearly 15,000 signatures in only fortnight .
In an interview to a media publication, Chandana has said, “It's absurd how numerous girls of my complexion find almost no representation of their skin tone in popular culture. I find no leading actresses of my color, I find no magazines or ads endorsing my skin color. Even filters on social media platforms and photo editing sites constantly specialise in making you look fairer.” Chandana was inspired by conversations round the Black Lives Matter protests that were triggered by police violence against black people in America. The new name for the product will be out after regulatory approvals, and the pack will be available in the market in the next few months. Skin lightening cosmetics have an enormous audience in India that encourages the obsession with being fair-skinned. Brands like Fair & Lovely also project two faces showing skincare transformation in their advertisements. There also are shade guides to point out improvement, and the way it's directly proportional to achieving success.
Movements like Dark is Beautiful campaign has been actively protesting against this trend for years. According to HUL’s statement, the India unit, during which the corporate owns a 67% stake, it had shifted from such marketing in 2019 and would still feature women of different skin tones. “In 2019, we reflected this evolution on the Fair & Lovely pack in India, removing before-and-after impressions and shade guides that might indicate a transformation; which we've progressed all communication of product benefits towards the glow, even tone, skin clarity, and radiance,” said Unilever, in its statement.