The rest of the world may find the adjectives "tall, dark, handsome" incredibly attractive in a man, however, here in India, the male ideal is rather a different one. Spurred by the trend of skin-lightening and bleaching products specially catered towards men. In addition to this, more men who have lighter skin are being seen all over the media, whether be it, films, advertisements or music videos.
Many men are working hard to gain this unattainable ideal
Although Indian women have long dominated the "fairness" product sector, Indian men are soon catching up due to the fact that having fair skin is now demanded by men too, the biggest reason being the "critical attractiveness trait." One does not have to look far for the ideal male because they are personified time and again in Bollywood movies; which Bollywood hero is dark-skinned? Dark-skinned actors are always handed the roles of ruffians, bad guys, and villains as opposed to the good guys who are always fair-skinned. Also, in the current trend of Indian men using fairness creams as much as women, the truth is that many men are working harder than ever to gain this unattainable ideal. A 2015 research revealed that the Indian bleaching cream market made up 46 percent of all facial creams available on the market and earned about USD $331 million. It was also estimated that this industry will grow 18 percent each year since.
"To be successful you have to be fair," says Shahrukh Khan
Do you know that during this time Indians have applied 233 tons worth of lightening creams on their face to "maintain their complexion." When American company Unilever first got to know India's obsession with light skin, the homegrown product Fair and Lovely was released and Indian women were its first customers stating that "Beautiful, radiant skin enhances not only a girl’s outward appearance; it also plays a critical role in boosting her self-confidence." However, when Emami released Fair and Handsome in the year 2005, it was called a "breakthrough" for men and when Bollywood star Shahrukh Khan became the face of the product, it became horribly popular among men. Even though he came under massive criticism, he said, "to be successful you have to be fair," saying what many celebrities have refused to spit out. Truth be told, the skin-lightening industry is making money on the backs of insecure men and women, spreading the myth that only those with light skin can be attractive and successful.
Image credit: The Print