'Dark is Beautiful' asks Deepika Padukone to accept her skin tone

Campaign is led by actress Nandita Das

Dark spells doom for girls hoping to meet soulmates on match-making sites.

In a society obsessed with 'white skin', especially in the Sub-continent, of which UAE expatriates from Pakistan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, form the majority, fairness is still the benchmark for beauty.

This dark obsession with a fair complexion has given rise to the 'Dark is Beautiful' campaign in India, of which actress Nandita Das, is the face.

'Dark is Beautiful' campaign seeks to draw attention to the unjust effects of skin colour bias and also celebrates the beauty and diversity of all skin tones.

Now the campaign has called out Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone to embrace her skin colour.

In a Facebook post, the campaign questioned the industry-need for fair skin through two different skin tones used on the actress’ picture.

The post read, "We could not help but notice this glaring change over the years in Deepika Padukone's skin tone. While we applaud Deepika Padukone for lending her support to 'More than sad' a mental health awareness initiative, we would love her to be comfortable in her own skin!"

Deepika's foundation 'Live Love Laugh Foundation' recently started a campaign called 'You Are Not Alone' to help high school students and teachers to deal with stress, anxiety and depression.

The Dark is Beautiful campaign pointed this out while saying, "At a recent DISB college campaign, a well-renowned film actor/director said 'It’s the viewers who want fair skinned women on the silver screen. We are just giving them what they want.'

Padukone, along with being a successful Bollywood actress, is also brand ambassador of products including fairness cream Neutrogena.

Fairness battle

Nandita earlier spoke to AFP and said, "Magazines, TV, cinema -- everywhere being fair is synonymous with being beautiful."
 
Described as having 'dusky' skin as opposed to a fair complexion, the actress is well used to Indian preoccupations with colour, and not just in the film industry, where she has refused requests to lighten her skin for roles.
 
"How can you be so confident despite being so dark?" is a question regularly asked of Das, who has preferred to star in unconventional, issue-based films but says she would struggle to get ahead in mainstream Bollywood movies.
 
Das found her own photograph had been lightened by a newspaper even for a feature on the campaign. When looking for a nanny, she was told one candidate was 'good, but quite dark'.
 
Amid such pressures to be pale, India's whitening cream market swelled from $397 million in 2008 to $638 million over four years, according to market researchers at Euromonitor International.
 
Skin-lightening products accounted for 84 percent of the country's facial moisturiser market last year, their report shows.
 
A commercial for an 'intimate wash' to whiten vaginas emerged, showing a young Indian woman who uses the product to successfully regain her boyfriend's attention.
 
The advert was widely panned, but a glance through matrimonial websites and newspaper columns suggests that fair skin, at least on a woman's face, remains key to attaining an Indian husband.
 
Aspiring grooms often state in their adverts their preference for a fair bride, while nearly all women's profiles describe their complexion as fair or so-called 'wheatish'.
 
Ekta Ghosh, a fashion designer in Mumbai who specialises in wedding wear, said the message that only fair is beautiful had been passed down to Indian girls for generations.
 
India's mass market whitening pioneer was ‘Fair & Lovely’, launched in 1975 by Hindustan Unilever and now selling in a range of other countries where pale skin is desirable, across Africa and the Middle East as well as Asia.
 
Indian consumer group Emami later came up with ‘Fair and Teen’ for girls and ‘Fair and Handsome’ for men.
 
Promoted by Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan, the latest advert shows him tossing a tube of the cream from the red carpet to a young male fan.
 
While men's fairness products are gaining ground, the actress says women and girls still face far more pressure over their skin tone, which she puts down to a general lack of respect and inequality.
 
Das says, "Until we let women have the same space as men and treat them as human beings, all this will carry on."

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