The Indian unit of the top consumer giant Unilever announced on Thursday that it would rebrand its skin-lightening cream ‘Fair and Lovely’, which has received considerable backlash for perpetuating negative stereotypes related to darker skin tones.
Hindustan Unilever said it would drop the word ‘Fair’ from the product and added that a fresh name for the cream was awaiting regulatory clearances.
“We are fully committed to having a global portfolio of skin care brands that is inclusive and cares for all skin tones, celebrating greater diversity of beauty. We recognise that the use of the words ‘fair’, ‘white’ and ‘light’ suggest a singular ideal of beauty that we don’t think is right, and we want to address this,” Sunny Jain, President Beauty & Personal Care, said in a statement on the company’s website.
The statement added that given that the company is evolving, it’s important for them to “change the language”.
Unilever’s announcement came as rival Johnson & Johnson said this month that it would stop the sale of skin-whitening creams.
News agency Reuters had earlier reported that Unilever had been mulling this move against the backdrop of increasing social media criticism against such products.
“The branding exercise will require a massive change and we’re working on this,” the source said. “Words like ‘skin detox’, ‘skin rejuvenation,’ and ‘skin vitality’ are being considered instead of ‘skin-lightening'”, a Unilever source in South Asia was quoted as saying.
Unilever’s ‘Fair & Lovely’ brand carries significant weight in the market in South Asia. As Black Lives Matter protests gained steam in recent days, several companies have been slammed for marketing products promoting colourism.
Appeals to stop marketing Fair & Lovely have been around for years, but the movement received a shot in the arm recently. This month, over half a dozen petitions on Change.Org received scores of signatures, aimed at Unilever and its Indian unit Hindustan Unilever, including one by Nina Davuluri, who in 2014 became the first Indian American to be crowned Miss America, according to Reuters.
Source: News 18