Recently I came across an ad campaign in Pakistan which is selling a beauty soap that promises to make you white. The shocking part was not the ad but the person who was selling the product. She is a woman who is a self-proclaimed guru of the culinary world in Pakistan. She is considered well educated, an expert cook and a ‘know-it-all’ home-remedy authority to the millions of Pakistani women all around the world and an embodiment of a well-rounded woman.
So for her to introduce and market a product like this is the height of ignorance but then again a country where well over more than half of the population is tan and most of the TV artists, Models, and Film Actresses are whiter then white, this is bound to happen. Media feeds into this hype of “white is the standard of beauty.” Same goes for when you go out shopping; it is impossible to walk into a beauty shop without looking at hundreds of products that promise to make you white. This becomes problematic as the media depicts beauty as white, slender and just the right height; in a country where most women still have arrange marriages this makes their life miserable. Growing up in Pakistan I was darker then most girls around me and felt the ugliness of not being fair enough. I am glad I was able to get past the bias and embraced myself as is but I saw many bleaching their faces and mixing harsh chemicals just to get one or two shades lighter.
There have some been breakthrough’s in the fashion & media world by smart & confident modern day Pakistani women like Iraj, Maria Wasti and Aamina Sheikh which have broken such cultural beauty barriers and embraced/showcased their true beauty & intellect. But such an ad campaign introduced by someone like “Zubaida Aapa” takes us 100 steps back and reinforces the idea of “light skin” is standard of beautiful. I am not saying that the same ideas are sometimes not prevalent in the west but media does its job in highlighting the ignorance of people and I hope that will be the case in Pakistan too.
For reference the title of the ad is:
Ab gora hoga Pakistan – Now Pakistan will be white