Many idealize celebrities and public figures from their fashion statements, political judgement, and endorsements. People are often influenced by the fancy lifestyle of these famous people and it becomes a trend for many.
Saying that, Priyanka Chopra was taken to limelight recently after her husband posted a joined statement expressing their support for the ‘Black Lives Matter’ (BLM) movement, following the controversial death of George Floyd on 25th May 2020.
On 25th May, 46 year-old George Floyd’s neck was pinned down by Minneapolis police officers after receiving a call from a staff of a convenience store saying that Floyd bought cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. Official autopsy report states that Floyd’s death was classified as ‘homicide’.
The death of George Floyd has changed the face of humanity and has definitely left an imprint on racial discrimination.
The BLM movement sparked conversations related to skin tones, racial disparities and privilege not only in America, but all over the world. Particularly in India, The Quantico actress was slammed by fans and she was labelled a “hyprocrite” for supporting the BLM movement due to endorsements of skin lightening creams in the past.
Priyanka recently shared a lengthy Instagram post supporting the movement saying “There is so much work to be done and it needs to start at an individual level on a global scale. We all have a responsibility to educate ourselves and end this hate”. This post was published alongside a picture featuring the words, “I can’t breathe”.
She added saying, “End this race war here in the US, and around the world. Wherever you live, whatever your circumstances, no one deserves to die, especially at the hands of another because of their skin colour.”
However, not all of her fans were supportive of her statement. Some were quick to dig out her work in the past where she had promoted skin lightening creams for Garnier. Their outraging comments were highlighted in the media which sparked controversies.
In an old interview which resurfaced recently, the Baywatch actress said she would ‘never’ want to be part of any fairness cream or anything that promotes a lighter skin tone. ‘I’m dusky myself and I’m very proud to be dusky. I would never go around saying that you need to become fair and that’s the only way you’d be beautiful because I don’t endorse that,’ she said.
Despite the pouring trolls, the actress and her husband Nick Jonas were determined to support the BLM movement and therefore donated to the Equal Justice Initiative and the ACLU to help fight systemic racism
Skin lightening creams have evolved along the years from just being fairness creams to a household commodity to every girl. Bollywood actor Abhay Deol expressed his thoughts on Instragram saying “Fairness creams in India are now using euphemisms like ‘skin brightening / whitening’, or ‘lightening creams’.
Most brands no longer want to be associated directly with being termed as ‘fairness creams’. So now we have brands selling ‘HD glow’, ‘white beauty’, ‘white glow’, ‘fine fairness’, and so on,” he pointed out.
In support of the recent BLM movement, another dusky beauty who is a very popular choice among beauty brands in promoting fairness creams is Deepika Padukone. Other than Priyanka, she was also one of the many Bollywood celebrities who was criticized openly for promoting fairness creams. Other than endorsing fairness creams, Padukone was also a brand ambassador for a cola drink.
A source said that she has disassociated herself from those titles and will be very selective in the brand she chooses hereafter. It is also said that the actress expressed her mistakes and regrets promoting fairness creams in the past.
It is shocking to know that renowned beauty brands like L’Oréal, Garnier and Ponds, whose target market are teens and young adults, have been driving the skin lightening taboo for years while promoting fairness as ‘beautiful’ and ‘attractive’. This perception has reached lengths where it has been embedded in the minds of the society that the lighter your skin tone, the prettier you are.
Over the years, many Bollywood celebrities have voiced out that darker skin tones are not the “preferred” choice of actors for leading roles. “Brownfacing” – a term used when an actor’s skin colour is darkened to portray a disadvantaged background – is also a common practice.
It is a similar predicament for Indians and African Americans around the world who have been discriminated because of their colour. Lighter skin-toned individuals are always well-treated and perceived as ‘beautiful’ while darker skins are sidelined and understated in the society.
Discrimination of such kind has empowered numerous activists to fight for equality and putting a stop to stereotyping and segregating people according to colour.
It is unfortunate that the voice of injustice striving for fairness and equality in the society is echoed around the globe only when occurrence of inhumane deaths like George Floyd unfolds. It takes a brutal incident to surface up basic human rights. The current BLM outrage too shall quiet down in due time, surpassed by trifling social issues, just like how other black killings in America have come to be.
Protests, petitions, posts and tweets on the internet will be impractical if it falls on deaf ears. Victims and the effected ones will continue to strive to make themselves heard but if no stern action taken by the people and government to banish racial tension, we will continue to see more murders in the future like George Floyd, defenselessly forced to face death.
This incident which shook the world did not only witness injustice but buried humanity. He was laying there, helpless, surrounded by many eyes on him. His suffering was recorded from various angles so that it could trigger sensation over the internet meanwhile justice and humanity relinquished from him.
People were unable to comprehend that what they were witnessing before their eyes was an unusual sight between several men in blue uniforms and a Black man who was pinned on the ground with no room for survival.
Mahatma Gandhi’s saying resonates with this incident, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. It starts with us to take the first step to eradicate racial disparity.