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South Asians Are Dispelling Age-Old Beauty Standards with #UnfairAndLovely

A relatively newer hashtag has been on the rise on the Internet. #UnfairAndLovely has been making rounds on Instagram, becoming increasingly prominent, and it involves South Asians, mostly, calling out, and devouring beauty standards that are blatantly so last-century.

If you’re a South Asian with dark skin-tone, it is fair to assume you, at some point in your life, must’ve been berated for a feature of your being that you have no control over, a feature that, really, doesn’t need to be controlled.

The Indian subcontinent, for one, seemingly has an undying admiration for a lighter skin-tone. It is not wrong to admire lighter skin-tones, but it is excruciatingly unjust, uncalled-for, and inhumane to berate, despise, and ridicule people with darker skin-tones.

Fair & Lovely, a well-known “skin-lightening” cosmetic product in India, which was first introduced to the Indian market in 1975, promotes a harmful misconception that only lighter skin-tone equals beauty and self-confidence. For a product that endorses such “beliefs,” Fair & Lovely has been subjected to a fair amount of controversy (and just general discontentment from the masses), yet not enough to shut it down, or to at least drive it to some form of brand-evolution.

The millennial generation is not going to feed the faulty notion anymore, and the hashtag #UnfairAndLovely evinces that well.

@reclaimthebindi, an Instagram handle geared towards addressing the issue of cultural appropriation, has kicked off its “Reclaim the Bindi Week,” and this time, they’re also focusing on combatting “colorism/shadism in South Asian communities in collaboration with #unfairandlovely.”



#unfairandlovely | art by @prettymuchkavi

A photo posted by Unfair & Lovely (@unfairandlovely_) on


mirusha being unfair and lovely with her hyphenated identity #unfairandlovely

A photo posted by Unfair & Lovely (@unfairandlovely_) on




"Growing up, I never felt like my skin color was inferior. I was actually proud of my gold-skin times. Knowing how much gold is valued in India 😝 But as I grew up, I realized that so many of my friends were using skin lightening products especially their under arms. I was made to feel like it is wrong if you don't shave+have dark underarm skin tone at the age of 12. I saw parents teaching their kids that. I saw so many advertisements, South Indian movies showcasing white as beautiful, classy. Meaning that dark skinned people were from 'kuppam' or slums. Never feeling represented in the Indian media even when I am an Indian. We are not born with a preference for a skin color but society imposes it so much that some cave into this unrealistic expectation." -@rachellechandraan #reclaimthebindi x #unfairandlovely | #reclaimthebindiweek

A photo posted by Unfair & Lovely (@unfairandlovely_) on


Art by @ochoboyz #reclaimthebindi X #unfairandlovely

A photo posted by Unfair & Lovely (@unfairandlovely_) on



#unfairandlovely | By Pax Jones

A photo posted by Unfair & Lovely (@unfairandlovely_) on


It is time we, as a civilization, do away with beauty standards, in general, because they instill a catastrophic belief that only certain “kinds” of beauty are acceptable, because they lead to a toxic differentiation based on mere superficiality, because they go against the very existence of beauty.

Fair isn’t the only lovely.

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