“…Fair complexion has always been associated with success and popularity. Men and women alike desire fairness, it is believed to be the key to a successful life.” Gaaah! It’s a joke, a pun, a tongue-in-cheek take of a that old adage of how being blonde and fair equated to being superior in some form?
No, it’s the advertising copy for Emami Fair and Handsome Fairness cream—for the male of the species. It’s tagline: Mard ho ke, ladkiyon wale fairness cream kyon? If you are man enough then why should you use women’s fairness creams (use a fairness cream just made for men? Really? Was that oxymoronic-al or what?) I wasn’t sure what confused me more.
The fact that this was and advertisement for a fairness cream for men, or that tall, fair and handsome was the new TDH? Did this mean that the very foundations on which the traditional Mills and Boon stories—a staple of my teenage years were based had been shaken? TWH? (Try saying that aloud, does that sound weird or what?)
Perhaps I should be pleasantly surprised that, Indian men were—finally—actually paying more attention to their own grooming? I definitely am thankful that atleast in the big cities, there is an ever so slight marked decrease in the number of eighties style Big B flouncy hair-cuts, semi afros and larger over the lip moustaches, for sure; with many more salons advertising mani-pedi-highlights for the uber-cool-male. Maybe I should congratulate the new Indian metrosexual man on stepping out of the closet?
Out of curiosity I looked up the online matrimonial ads. Aha! Seasons had come and down, dictators had been felled, people had risen in revolution to claim their freedom on different levels, the internet now penetrated every pore of our life, but the marriage classifieds had stayed reassuringly unchanged …except that, indeed the clutches of the fairness trap now cast its ubiquitous net over all it surveyed. V.Bfull Nonmglk prof qlfd convtd tall gori for veryfair H.some Rajput boy IIT-K B.Tech 28/5’9. To get the girl who was gori, the man had to be not just well qualified, and in a good job but he had to be fair too. So what was sauce for the goose was for the gander too now.
The stereotypes which had constrained the Indian women for centuries was now being extended to men. It didn’t feel like reason to applaud though…It was more as if each increasing degree of economic prosperity demanded a parallel decrease in the shades of darkness of the skin. The mind boggled at this weird inversely proportional co-efficient.
Above all what gave this an official stamp of acceptance, was that the most popular star in Bollywood Shah Rukh Khan—he who made women around the world swoon and embodied the success of the modern Indian male in every way was endorsing this product. And it wasn’t just him, Jon Abraham that quintessential TDH has leant his face to Garnier Men PowerLight, another fairness cream for men.
Where do we go from here. Much as I am grateful to the lowered levels of BO in the sweaty climes of the metropolis that is Bombay yet I refuse to accept that TWH really is the new TDH. What do you think? Do you agree? Do write in and tell me.