A change in India’s obsession with fair skin?

For some, the more important thing was that finally, there seemed to be a change in India’s obsession with fair skin.

Dubai: It’s been a long time coming. A dusky complexioned Miss India. And social media is thrilled!


Anukreethy Vas from Tamil Nadu won the 55th Femina Miss India World 2018 pageant. Tweeps and Facebook users happily congratulated the South Indian beauty, especially as it seemed that finally there was a shift in India’s obsession with fair skin.

Facebook user Vidya Viswanathan posted: “Looks like India’s and Bollywood’s obsession for white skin has cracked a little bit. Anukreethy Vyas, Miss India from Tamil Nadu and the second runners-up from Andhra Pradesh are definitely not ‘fair’ or even ‘wheatish’.”

@scribe_it tweeted: “Anybody else noticed that #FeminaMissIndia2018 #AnukreethyVas has dark complexion? Congrats to her and the judges. This is real Indian beauty! Hope she doesn’t endorse any fairness cream now.”

Facebook user Myra Richi emphasised that beauty pageants are about much more than just skin colour. She posted: “I think its a very fair decision by the judges, to select these three beauties. People often judge only based on colour and looks, not the complete package. One has to be smart enough….”

India has a huge market for skin whitening products.

Hindustan Unilever’s Fair & Lovely, launched in 1975, is India’s best known fairness brand, and holds the highest share of the skin whitening market in India.

Many Indian film stars including Katrina Kaif, Deepika Padukone, Sonam Kapoor and Preity Zinta endorse whitening creams.

For years, television commercials for skin-lightening creams have shown that women with dark skin have problems when it comes to finding jobs, getting married and generally being accepted by society.

Tweep @Samar_Anarya wrote: “Truth of India: Had Anukreethy Vas not won Femina Miss India 2018 title, 90% of Indians celebrating her now would have been selling her fairness creams to become beautiful. Welcome to the country of misogynist hypocrites!”

According to the online fashion magazine, Fashion Network UK: “The market for whitening creams in India is estimated to be worth about Rs270 billion (over Dh14.5 billion) and is growing …”

International research firm Centre for Science and Environment said in a 2014 study that nearly half the creams it tested in India contained mercury, which is “completely illegal and unlawful”. The World Health Organisation has banned the active ingredients – hydroquinone and mercury – from unregulated skin products.

In 2009, Kavitha Emmanuel, the founder of Women of Worth, an Indian non-governmental organisation against bias toward lighter skin, launched The Dark is Beautiful campaign @disbcampaign. It carries celebrity endorsement, most notably from the Indian director and actress Nandita Das, and provides a forum for people to share their personal stories of skin colour bias.

@disbcampaign tweeted in May: “Blackie, crow, burnt toast: emotionally damaging names used for people with melanin. Have you experienced this? Talking about it helps. Share with us in the comments below. #fightColourism”

According to a report titled India Fairness Cream and Bleach Market Overview, 2018-2023 by a US-based market research company: “…the women’s fairness cream category is anticipated to achieve market revenues of more than Rs 5,000 crore (Dh2.69 billion) by year 2023.”

Miss World 2017 Manushi Chhillar crowned Anukreethy Vas during the grand finale event on Tuesday night in Mumbai at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Indoor Stadium. Meenakshi Chaudhary from Haryana finished as first runners-up and Shreya Rao from Andhra Pradesh was placed at second runners-up.

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