BlackLivesMatter: Unilever’s Indian arm drops ‘Fair’ from its Fair & Lovely skincream

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BlackLivesMatter: Unilever’s Indian arm announces dropping of ”Fair” from Fair & Lovely skin cream henceforth due to a racist overtone

The cowardly killing of George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks and the subsequent Black Lives Matter protests happening in America are having unintended repercussions in India. London headquartered Unilever’s Indian arm, Hindustan Unilever has long been chided for using the words “Fair” in its Fair & Lovely fairness cream. Hindustan Unilever had for decades advertised this product as an elixir for making dark people fair.

But ever since the Black Lives Matter protests broke out in the United States after the custodial killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police Officer, Derek Chauvin, there have been calls from Indian citizens for HUL to drop the Fair & Lovely cream altogether. Indians have castigated HUL for promoting negative stereotypes against people with darker skin and advertising Fair & Lovely skin cream with racist overtones.

Today Hindustan Unilever announced that it will drop the word “fair” from its “Fair & Lovely” range of skin products, “We are making our skincare portfolio more inclusive … a more diverse portrayal of beauty,” Hindustan Unilever Chairman Sanjiv Mehta said in a statement.

“We recognize 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, Unilever’s president of its beauty and personal care division, said in a separate statement.

Hindustan Unilever is not the only one making money selling such type of fairness products. Similar products are also sold by L’Oréal and Procter & Gamble. L’Oréal had said that it was considering a similar name and branding change in view of the Black Lives Matter movement.

It is not known how Unilever will market the newly branded Lovely skin cream. Its earlier ads always showed a black-toned woman using the Fair & Lovely skin cream to get fair and glowing skin within matter of days. This type of advertising made Unilever’s ‘Fair & Lovely’  brand number one fairness cream not only in India but also in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. It is hoped that it will also drop the racist overtones in its ads.

The ‘Fair & Lovely’ brand name change is subject to regulatory approvals, Hindustan Unilever said. The company did not say what the new brand name would be.

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