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MUMBAI/ISLAMABAD – Unilever (ULVR.L) will drop the word “fair” from its “Fair & Lovely” skin lightening products, it said on Thursday, in the latest makeover of a brand in response to a global backlash against racial prejudice.

Skin lightening cosmetics have a huge market in South Asia, but their promotion is being questioned, especially in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Earlier this month, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) said it would stop selling skin-whitening creams in Asia and the Middle East, while PepsiCo (PEP.O) said it would change the name and brand image of its Aunt Jemima pancake mix and syrup.

Unilever’s “Fair & Lovely” brand dominates the market in South Asia. Similar products are also sold by L’Oréal (OREP.PA) and Procter & Gamble (P&G) (PG.N).

“We recognise that the use of the words ‘fair’, ‘white’ and ‘light’ suggest a singular ideal of beauty that we don’t think is right, and we want to address this,” said Sunny Jain, president of Unilever’s beauty and personal care division.

In India, the biggest market for “Fair & Lovely”, fairness products have long been endorsed by leading Bollywood celebrities, as well as other youth icons.

Adverts have regularly featured two faces showing skin tone transformation, as well as shade guides to show “improvement”.

Unilever’s India unit, in which the company owns a 67% stake, said it had shifted from such marketing in 2019 and would continue to evolve it to feature women of different skin tones.

Several users on Twitter applauded the move, though some said it was too little, too late.

“This is a big win, but it’s only the beginning,” Nina Davuluri, who in 2014 became the first Indian American to be crowned Miss America, told Reuters.

“While Unilever removing words such as ‘fair, white, & lightening,’ and changing the … brand name is a step towards inclusion, it’s only one piece of a much larger fight to end colorism.”

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