In India, Advertisers Find that Lighter Skin Sells

From the Washington Post – Full Article

The presence of Caucasian models in Indian advertisements has grown in the past three years, industry analysts say. The trend reflects deep cultural preferences for fair skin in this predominantly brown-skinned nation of more than 1 billion people. But analysts say the fondness for “fair” is also fueled by a globalized economy that has drawn ever more models from Europe to cities such as Mumbai, India’s cultural capital.

“Indians have a longing for that pure, beautiful white skin. It is too deep-rooted in our psyche,” said Enakshi Chakraborty, who heads Eskimo India, a modeling agency that brings East European models here. “Advertisers for international as well as Indian brands call me and say, ‘We are looking for a gori [Hindi for white] model with dark hair.’ Some ask, ‘Do you have white girls who are Indian-looking?’ They want white girls who suit the Indian palate.”

Indians’ color fixation is also evident in classified newspaper ads and on Web sites that help arrange marriages. The descriptive terms used for skin color run the gamut: “very fair,” “fair,” “wheat-ish,” “wheat-ish-medium,” “wheat-ish-dark,” “dark” and “very dark.”

Family elders here commonly comment on a newborn baby’s color, after checking out the gender. One of the best-selling skin creams in India is called Fair & Lovely. A men’s version, Fair and Handsome, was launched last year.

“The Indian mind-set prefers light skin. My pictures are routinely Photoshopped to make me look a bit lighter — a lot lighter, actually,” Riya Ray, 23, a dark-skinned Indian model, said with a laugh. “But when I work in Britain and France, my color is praised as exotic. It is a two-way trend: Indian models are going abroad, and foreign models are coming here.”

White models, who usually visit India on three-month work visas, earn $500 to $1,500 for a single shoot, a rate that is relatively low, largely because the models tend to come from developing European countries and are new to the international scene. Bollywood stars, cricketers and top Indian supermodels, on the other hand, command large sums from top brands.

Advertisers say that white female models appeal to them because they are typically less inhibited than their Indian counterparts when it comes to showing skin and posing in lingerie.

Tanya Bohinc, a 25-year-old Slovenian model, has lived in India for the past month, going on shoots for perfumes, clothing and hotel chains, while battling the rest of what India has to offer: omnipresent mosquitoes and spicy curries that wreak havoc with a sensitive stomach.

“I can sense the local fascination for my skin color here,” said Bohinc, who has modeled in seven countries. “I think it has to do with the fact that the British ruled India for so long.” Bohinc said she’s been trying out for small roles in Bollywood films and learning Hindi lines. A growing number of Bollywood film choreographers are now hiring white dancers in song-and-dance scenes

9 Comments

Filed under beauty, business, community, culture, news, race, white folks, women

9 responses to “In India, Advertisers Find that Lighter Skin Sells

  1. Did you know that the same people who make Dove make these products? In the U.S., they tell your you’re beautiful just as you are and preach self-love but in India and China, they’ll tell you that you’re far too dark and if you lightened up, a rich, fair man will marry you and save you from your life of poverty. Save those rupees. You don’t need food or clothes. You need to be fair.

  2. Kittyhummerkitty

    Something is wrong with our society when damn near everyone wants to be light. My sister-in-law who is Mexican told me that in the Hispanic community, they have the same problem. Light vs Dark skin. She said light is preferred over dark…even the dark skinned people preferred light skin. Why???Why can’t people just be happy with their complexion? The world would be very boring if everyone was light.

  3. Yeah, and what’s up with the bleached dreadlocks!?

  4. LaToya

    I think all cultures have a fixation on skin color. I have a friend that is white and married to an Vietnamese man. His family was very happy when they got married because their children would be ‘amerasian’ as they call them because they too prefer fairer complexions. So you can add asian to your list as well.

  5. yvonnjanae

    I suspect that in a few generations, there will be no “dark-skinned” people left. Does that mean it was “natural selection” or survival of the fittest? Discuss among yourselves.

  6. PAM

    well i understand the fascination to skin colour it is very real in the blakc community also.. i too prefer ppl who are pale white.

  7. sandra

    Hi people wake up from your sleep , and love your self. i wish i was black. because after all in the end black is the only color that stand the test of time.they dont wrinkle like other races and you know it is the only color in the bible that god called beautiful. because in ancient times when god would put a curse on you he would make you white esau had kids with white skin and called it a curse . the day will come when all of you will wish to be black when the ozone is gone and white skin wont be able to to stand the heat they we will fry and black will be laughing at us. learn your ancient history about black and read what herodatus spoke about the black race god has bless that race with that oily beautiful skin and there is no way that our white skin could be nicer than the black skin. i envy them we need to tan to be healthy they dont.

  8. The Human race all shades and colours a reflextion of the world all shades and colours,life is hort enjoy the beauty of the creation just for a moment shut the F…. up about colour

  9. I’m a black woman and some men frm my side(Nigeria) prefer fairer women over the darker ones bt the darker women are really beautiful with structures u cnt find anywhere. i believe our features make us beautiful not colour evryone created by God is beautiful.

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