Up to a couple of years ago, fairness cream adverts used to focus on one single topic: only fair girls get married, so if you are planning to marry in the next fifteen years you'd better embalm your black self in our cream and get a chance at fulfilling your sole mission in life.
Then, somewhere along the line, someone probably thought he or she was being very progressive and changed the message of the fairness cream ads. Now we had a girl whose dad could not afford his favorite cup of coffee on his pension, and his daughter was too dark to earn enough money to purchase coffee. To my math-challenged brain, the cost of her lifetime supply of Fair and Lovely would be about the same as Dad's coffee budget, but then fairness offers her a chance to become an air-hostess, because 3000 metres above sea level, you had better know how to fly, or be a mannequin, to get a job.
And then they got even more progressive! Mandira Noodlestrap Bedi inspired the fair and lovely cricket commentator advert, and don't we all know how important it is to look good to understand the nuances of cricket and to communicate clearly and entertainingly at 3000 words per minute??
Another commercial shows a woman who becomes successful as a lawyer by using fairness cream! His Honour is surely not an honourable man if all the law he practices is the law he gets from Keats: "Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty/That is all ye know on earth..." Keats would have died even younger if he saw that commercial.
Shifting the context from marriage to work is about the single most regressive step fairness cream advertising could have taken. However ridiculous the fascination for fair skin, it is understandable in the eugenic context of the arranged marriage. It is in no way acceptable, but it can be tolerated as a sad fact of life in a shallow world. However, a person's appearance determining success at work is highly offensive. It reduces the female professional to Workday Barbie, and encourages women to spend more thought on their make-up than on their resumes.
Can we please get back to the "look fair and get married" insanity? I'm missing the transformed brides and gullible dudes who will soon seek divorce in court, and will fall in love with their fair and lovely lawyers in the process?