The anti-racism confronts the Asian bias against dark skin

L'antiracisme confronte l'Asie à ses préjugés contre la peau sombre

NEW DELHI | Bored to hear people advise to whiten the skin when it was small, the student of indian Chandana Hiran combat today’s obsession with Asia for skin tones clear, strengthened in his convictions by the global events against racism.

The initiator of an online petition against the lightening cream “Fair & Lovely” (“Clear and lovely”) from Unilever, which has collected tens of thousands of signatures, the young woman was seen as a first victory the decision of the multinational company, last month, to change their fields of activities of its beauty products with the words “fair”, “light” (clear) and “white” (white).

Under pressure of the movement “Black Lives Matter”, the giants of the cosmetics of L’oreal and Johnson & Johnson have also taken similar measures. But the détractrices of the colorisme in Asia — discrimination based on the brightness of the complexion — believe that these initiatives will not eliminate the root of the problem: the ingrained prejudices in the minds.

In India, in particular, the pale skin is associated with wealth and beauty — especially for women. “People believe that if you have dark skin, you will not succeed in anything in life,” says AFP Chandana Hiran, 22 years.

This stereotype is widely perpetuated by the Bollywood films, where the actresses usually have a carnation clear, and advertising. The indian newspapers are full of ads for arranged marriages demanding of the candidates to the skin of a “white milky”.

Maid of 29 years in New Delhi, Seema applies the cream “Fair & Lovely” since its 14 years old. All the women in her family use it, even his 12 year old daughter.

“When I look at the ads for whitening creams, this seems like a good product,” said she. “They show that when people are becoming more white, they find a job, receive proposals of marriage”.

The british colonization of India has strengthened the colorisme, but it is intrinsically linked to the traditional system of caste, which structures the society of the country of 1.3 billion people, believe the university.

“The premise is that the higher castes have lighter skin than the lower castes,” says Suparna Kar, a sociologist at the Christ University in Bangalore.


The preference for white skin is not, however, peculiar to India and is widespread throughout Asia, the continent most populous country on the planet.

The industry of skin-lightening products is one of the most dynamic markets of the cosmetics sector and is expected to represent 27.5 billion euros in the world by 2024, according to the world health Organization (WHO), while some can lead to serious health problems. They may in fact contain high levels of mercury, which can cause damage to the kidneys or skin problems among others.

In Thailand, the ads for whitening creams are displayed on huge billboards everywhere in Bangkok. These products are among the most sold in a cosmetics market which represents locally close to 5.5 billion euros.

Here, too, the movement “Black Lives Matter” was awakened by the voice contestatrices. Highly followed on social networks, the blogger Natthawadee “Suzie” Waikalo denounces, and on its accounts on the colorisme that pervades thai society.

Born to a father from mali and a thai mother, this young 25-year old woman has suffered bullying because of his color. It tells in particular have been sacked from his job because his employer believed that his black skin “gave a bad image of the company”.

“It feels terrible that you never forget”, said she during a recent conference at the foreign correspondents ‘ Club of Thailand, blaming the usual tv soap operas thai to enlist players to clear skin, for many half-caucasian.

In the Philippines, many men and women use substances éclaircissantes to distinguish themselves in a country where most people have the skin rather dark. A skin more white there is in fact associated with “pleasant personality”, says Gideon Lasco, an anthropologist at the university of the Philippines.

Blogger filipina of 26 years, Patricia Terrado has launched an online campaign to call on its women to love their skin colour natural. “You have the power to make you your own definition of beauty, whatever your skin color”, she says.

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