Bollywood faces flak for protesting racism while backing skin lightening

Priyanka Chopra at the Marrakech International Film Festival on Dec 5, 2019, in Morocco.(AFP)
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Updated 07 June 2020

Bollywood faces flak for protesting racism while backing skin lightening

  • Bollywood actresses shared social media posts to protest against the death of George Floyd
  • Top Indian actors have been often criticized for endorsing skin lightening ‘fairness creams’

NEW DELHI: Several Bollywood stars have been labelled “hypocrites” after speaking out against racism to lend support to global protests while promoting products in India designed to make people’s skin lighter.
A series of A-list Bollywood actresses, including Priyanka Chopra, shared posts on social media to protest against the death of George Floyd who died in police custody after a white officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
“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 color,” Chopra, 37, posted on Instagram. ⁣⁣⁣
People were quick to call her out on social media for previously promoting an “intense fairness moisturiser.”
They also pointed at her role in 2008 Hindi film “Fashion” in which she is ashamed of having sex with a black man.
“Thanks for speaking out for black lives. But, maybe also stop supporting a skin bleaching cream which promotes anti-blackness,” one user replied to Chopra’s Instagram post.
Chopra, a former Miss World who became a star in both Bollywood and Hollywood, has said in past interviews that she regretted endorsing such a product as a young actress and that she is proud of her dark skin.
She was not immediately available to comment.
Actresses Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, Deepika Padukone and Disha Patani also faced criticism for their anti-racism social media posts while having featured in ads for skin fairness products.
India’s multi billion-dollar skin lightening industry has a host of products appearing to offer dark-skinned Indians a lighter, fairer and better version of themselves, often endorsed by the Bollywood’s top actors.
After years of criticism and campaigns against such products, many brands moved to calling them “skin brightening,” “whitening” or “lightening” creams and face washes.
“Most brands no longer want to be associated directly with being termed as ‘fairness creams’,” said actor Abhay Deol, a vocal critic of fairness products and Bollywood’s support.
Critics say the film industry helps feed India’s obsession with fair skin and bias against darker faces, with many pointing out it fails to represent the diversity of Indians.
For example, actors from southern states where most people are darker-skinned are rarely in mainstream Bollywood films.
Last year, the film “Bala” featured the story of a woman who suffered discrimination because of her complexion and actress Bhumi Pednekar had her skin darkened to play the role.
Social media users also questioned why Bollywood continued to write lyrics and dialogues that equated fairness with beauty.
Kangana Ranaut, a noted actress, spoke out against her Bollywood colleagues for promoting fairness products.
“These people, especially Indian celebrities, the successful ones ... have been endorsing all kinds of fairness products and today shamelessly they stand and say black lives matter — I mean how dare they?” she told the BBC in an interview last week.
Indian-American comedian Hasan MinHajj took on Bollywood for the endorsements as well on his news-comedy program “Patriot Act” on Netflix.


Dubai’s streetwear festival Sole DXB canceled due to pandemic

Updated 09 August 2020

Dubai’s streetwear festival Sole DXB canceled due to pandemic

DUBAI: The region’s premiere streetwear festival, Sole DXB, will not be happening in 2020, the organizers announced via a statement on Sunday.

The organizers revealed that they “aren’t confident” that they can deliver the experience festival-goers “deserve with the health and safety standards” they expect. 

“While the situation continues to improve on the ground in Dubai, the festival is a collective effort by our community around the world and we’re ready to wait ‘til they can be a part of it too,” said the statement.

Organizers also announced that they do not have a new date set. The streetwear and music festival typically takes place during the first week of December.

The urban and streetwear festival seamlessly brings together the region’s music lovers and sneakerheads, who flock to Dubai Design District to enjoy performances from top artists such as Nas and Wu Tang Clan as well as shop local and international streetwear brands.

In light of the pandemic, Sole DXB recently launched a new mixed-media platform, sole.digital, dedicated to music, fashion, the visual arts and sports from the Middle East, India, Africa, the Caribbean and their diasporas.