Priyanka Chopra has disappointingly joined the ranks of Bollywood stars like Shahrukh Khan and Aishwarya Rai by choosing to endorse a brand of skin whitening cream. Piggy Chops is the new celebrity spokesperson for Garnier Light Fairness Moisturizer, and by attaching her face to this product she is helping to perpetuate a cruel Indian societal rule: white skin is beautiful, and if your skin isn’t white, you’d better fix it immediately.
Ads for skin lightening creams are as ubiquitous in India as shampoo ads are in America. These creams promise to “brighten” the skin and help remove dark spots, but in reality they contain an ingredient called hydroquinone, which inhibits the production of melanin in the skin. Hydroquinone has also been shown to cause cancer in laboratory tests, and is banned in some countries for its harmful effects.
It’s perfectly legal in India (and in the United States), and millions of (mostly) women turn to it to help lighten their complexions in an effort to look like their favorite movie stars. An actress can’t get a job in Bollywood with dark skin–the industry’s attitude toward skin color is particularly telling when you consider that Bipasha Basu, who anyone in their right mind would consider to be a light-skinned Indian woman, is considered “dark” by Hindi cinema standards.
Now Priyanka Chopra has accepted money from a company dedicated to fostering cruel and unhealthy attitudes towards dark skin colors. She ought to be ashamed of herself, though her endorsement isn’t entirely surprising. With the amount of plastic surgery she’s had she can hardly be accused of valuing a “natural” look.
Here’s Priyanka’s latest commercial for Garnier. Do products like this do a disservice to women, or do you think the product serves a legitimate purpose?