Abhay Deol

Apr 21, 2017 @ 17:52

“Are we white yet?”

Abhay Deol talks about fairness creams in india and calls out bollywood celebrities who endorse these products
+ Image courtesy: Abhay Deol

Profile:

Name: Abhay Deol
Profession: Actor
Instagram: @AbhayDeol

– – – –

While growing up I was made aware of my skin colour. I was told that I’m fair and that’s considered good and attractive. So I developed a taste for what is fair and even found myself attracted to fair girls and interpreted dark skin as something undesirable. This lasted till I hit my teenage years..I was a Parveen Babi fan, not Zeenat Aman. But today, I’m a Zeenat Aman fan, you know what I mean? Moving to LA changed my perspective. I had black, brown and white friends – conversations about skin colour only came up when we spoke about the rights of coloured people. Not in the context of beauty. Racism exists in America and that’s when I realised the impact of the colour of skin. I may have been the white privileged male in my country, but I was definitely the dark minority in this country [U.S]. Even though I never faced racism directly, I had to consider things that I would’ve never had to in my own country. That’s when I started thinking differently about this issue.

Fairness creams and celebrities endorsing them always concerned me at some level. I was just tired of it carrying on. I didn’t post all that stuff on a lark, in fact, I’ve tweeted about it before. I’m not an activist, but a filmmaker and don’t want to become the bearer of dark skinned people. But I will stand up for something that has far-reaching connotations and ramifications. When celebs are endorsing this, they aren’t thinking about you. They are thinking about themselves, because you know what? These fairness companies pay much more than other brands do. I know that for a fact because I was also offered a fairness cream endorsement in the past. My appeal is to my fraternity – just don’t endorse these brands. An actors life is difficult, if you’re trying to make ends meet and this is all you have to do, then do it. I’m not going to hold a gun against your head. But the ones who are in a privileged space, should say no.

My appeal is to my fraternity – just don’t endorse these brands.

 

Abhay Deol talks about fairness creams in india and calls out bollywood celebrities who endorse these products
+ Screenshots from Abhay Deol’s Facebook page
Abhay Deol talks about fairness creams in india and calls out bollywood celebrities who endorse these products
+ Screenshots from Abhay Deol’s Facebook page

“Are we white yet? Are we white yet? Are we white yet?”

My posts angered people, and for all the right reasons. While it made them smirk, it also made them realise the gravity of the situation. When you look at all those ads collectively, it illustrates how we are bombarded with this message – visuals of fair and dark, the subliminal, subconscious messages and the constant manipulations! “Are we white yet? Are we white yet? Are we white yet?”

What were the repercussions of my posts? One actress called and said she agrees with me, though she was a part of it in the past, and I was totally with her on that. There are people in my fraternity who want to speak up. Some feel like they’ve done something wrong in the past and want to know if they can do something about it now.

Abhay Deol talks about fairness creams in india and calls out bollywood celebrities who endorse these products
+ Screenshots from Abhay Deol’s Facebook page
Abhay Deol talks about fairness creams in india and calls out bollywood celebrities who endorse these products
+ Screenshots from Abhay Deol’s Facebook page

Sure, why not? I’ve done wrong things in the past. If someone pulls me up for it, I’ll say I’m sorry. I don’t think people are unforgiving. But speak up, because it’s important. But no one is going to take someones head on in the way that I did, because you get blacklisted. People don’t like to be called out on their mistakes. It’s difficult. Many times the public at large ends up discussing the celebrity more than the issue and get fooled themselves, because there are powers

that be that are interested in you jumping on the celebrity and not deal with the real issue.
But it’s more than just fairness creams. Someone sent in a comment [on Facebook], where they said their text book described a woman’s figure as athletic if she was a 36-24-36. I was also sent a link to another text book which taught students that if you’re dark, you have to pay more dowry.

The people writing these books aren’t delving into the meaning behind what they’re publishing, which is ironic because they are writing a text book. It’s their job to think it through before putting it out there.They need to know every small connotation and read the sub text, but they don’t. They just write what they see on the surface.

What if there’s a kid out there who is dark and disagrees with her parents opinion of that being bad and unattractive thing? A kid who’s intelligent enough to understand that beauty isn’t about colour. But then when she looks around her, she finds banners and t.v commercials telling her exactly what her parents have been telling her. She notices her favourite actress endorsing those beliefs. How long do you expect a kid like that to hold onto her confidence? Suddenly she’s going to think they’re right, and she’ll go buy those creams and the corporates have won! They want you to buy that cream, they want you to feel inferior, that’s the entire point of this.

So how do we make a difference? Make sure you don’t partake in all this. Use technology to keep yourself informed about the right things. Question everything and don’t take the ads literally. These brands use dark people to sell fairness creams! Deepika’s fair?! Priyanka’s fair?! Even in real life, the model is not of the colour the brand is selling, let alone the fact that they don’t use the brands they are selling. So in a way,  if they are good enough to be on their poster, and they’re dark, you’re at fault for not seeing that. Not the celebrity and not the brand. You pull them up on their bullshit and they won’t be able to sell it to you.

I was interviewed by another magazine yesterday and I asked them to find out how many fairness cream ads are there in their issue.Ask your editor if they are there and if we need them.If you’re a magazine that’s trying to survive and receiving a fair share of revenue from these companies, then maybe you can’t turn them down – it’s a catch 22. Cause if you do, you wont have a magazine to sell. You can’t talk about this while you are also receiving money from the same people. Find out, you have to dig that deep. Each one has to individually do it and then a change is going to happen on its own.

Ultimately the nation has to walk on its own. Our country has old culture, but we are very young. We are barely 70 years old, what is our national identity? We have no clue, you know? We all don’t have one look or one colour and have varied communities. We don’t even have the same language. As a country we need to just not accept the notion that fairness creams are good for us. As a country we need to say no! Sell us healthy moisturisers instead, not whiteness creams. New corporates are going to come, they’re going to understand us, how we work, they’re going to find out where our insecurities lie and they’re going to aim for it.

View this post on Instagram

Got my own #Amul avatar!!!

A post shared by Abhay Deol (@abhaydeol) on

We live in a capitalistic society and people are just doing their jobs. They can turn their strategy around and sell me moisturisers instead of whitening creams, and I’ll buy it from the same brand. All I’m saying is while you’re selling your product, you can also maybe help my country get this notion out of their head. Don’t feed off on our insecurities. But it’s a corporate world, and what makes money always triumphs.

I don’t want to look back at my life and feel like I didn’t do anything. A lot of people say that, “Oh! Bollywood stars don’t take responsibility, they don’t sell the right brands.” I’m not one

of those people. Everybody is not the same in Bollywood.That’s why I also put up posters of other actors who’ve shunned fairness creams. Unfortunately, sometimes silence doesn’t work, because you get coloured the same way everyone else does.

I took to Facebook because I wanted to make a point, I’m in a position to spread the word far and wide and used this opportunity and platform to do so. And I think it’s helped. Everyone is interested and wants to take this story forward, and I’ll help keep this dialogue going by talking about it. It’s the only way to keep it alive.

Interviewed by Priyam Sharda

Text: currentMood

Read More

Last modified: October 17, 2018