While complexion bias has always been real and rampant, it recently led to furious debates around the world once again, with people demanding action and stronger laws against race crimes. In May, a man named George Floyd was killed in the US, causing people to take to the streets. In India — where the colour of the skin has always been a benchmark for the society — the incident especially highlighted how deeply flawed the conditioning has been.
It came as a pleasant surprise then that after years of propagating that people with lighter skin tones have an edge over those with darker complexions, a melanin-suppressing fairness cream brand decided to re-brand itself, to show more sensitivity and solidarity. But, as soon as its new brand name was announced, people deemed it as unsatisfactory and farcical.
Now, with an interesting and a fresh take on the Indian society’s obsession with the fair skin, Thought Over Design — which is a brand strategy and design studio that essentially “works closely with entrepreneurs and businesses to translate their vision into brands of tomorrow” — has come up with a series of pictures on their Instagram handle, based on conversations around fairness and creams that promote as such.
Titled ‘Not Fair’, these pictures are designed as if to show a mirror to the society and its beliefs about fair-skinned people. For instance, there are tubes which have been re-imagined as legitimate brands that promote ‘casual racism’, ‘colonial hangover’, ‘internalized colourism’, among others.
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Savage but make it PINK & GLOWING 😎 So casual… that it may look totally fiiiine. What’s shocking about everything I’ve personally experienced, am reading and am hearing — is how casually we behave about our views on skin colour / tone. How absolutely unaware we are of the absurdity of the things we are told or learn while growing up. It’s normal for us to hear stuff like : ‘Don’t go in the sun, you’ll get black!’ or have other kids tease you in school with rhymes like ‘Kaali Kalauti Baigan Roti’ or ‘Why are you looking so dull beta? Thoda facial vacial karlo?’ It’s all so casual. And it’s absolutely wrong that we have to feel this way about our skin colour / tone. Just because its casual (or said in jest) doesn’t make any of it OK. For us @thoughtoverdesign we’re using this recent chatter around ‘fairness’ as a conversation to think about the work we do. As a creative agency – what kind of stories do we want to build for young boys and girls to be inspired by? #Concept #creativedirection by @anushkasani #Packaging Design by @e.y.e.r #DigitalArt #artdirection by @kushlet
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Here’s the entire set! #CasualRacism #ColonialHangover #InternalisedColourism Thanks for all the support on our #NotFair campaign guys ♥️ Everything thats pink, cute and rosey is not always nice. Don’t let people, brands or advertising fool you. This campaign was created by us @thoughtoverdesign as a response to the chatter around fairness and fairness creams. #concept #creativedirection by our founder @anushkasani #packagingdesign by @e.y.e.r from our awesome team and #3dmodelling #artdirection by our young and talented collaborator @kushlet
It has been conceptualised by Anushka Sani, who tells indianxpress.com that she thought about what can be done differently to address the obsession with fairness, and that is when the team came up with the campaign. “We took an ironic approach saying let us call this brand ‘Not Fair’, and let us kind of package the actual thing that they are selling,” she says.
“It was something we did over the weekend last, and started posting it, and we got really good responses, too. As creative people, we have the power to make these decisions, where a project comes our way and we feel it is propagating something that we don’t think the world requires, we can turn it down. Through brands we are part of creating new cultures,” Sani concludes.
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