Colourism is a deeply rooted issue within different ethnic minority groups, particularly within Asian and African cultures. Colourism is the discrimination that happens particularly to people with darker skin, especially when those with a lighter complexion are treated more favourably. Beauty ideals in many cultures believe that ‘lighter is better’, and that being dark is equal to being ‘ugly’ and ‘undesirable’. This is not a new issue; particularly within Asia. For years and years, women of colour have struggled with society’s considerably wide-held belief that fair skin is “the most attractive.”
Unfair and Lovely is a global social media campaign that encourages darker skinned women of all backgrounds to embrace their skin colour. “Unfair and Lovely” is a play on words referencing the popular product called ‘Fair and Lovely’, a skin lightening cream that launched in Asia in 1975.
Heera Sritharan, is a growing Instagram model and a fitness and beauty blogger. Although Sritharan has a large Instagram following and a modelling career, she grew up facing many negative remarks about her dark skin. “Growing up my mother always told me to stay out of the sun or else I’d become dark. Even friends and family would give me advice on how I could become fairer. Some boys refused to date me because of my skin colour.”
Recently, Western University’s MISS organization, started holding makeup diversity workshops. MISS works towards challeneging any negative stigmas about makeup and its users.
The Makeup Diversity Workshops, consist of makeup artists leading tutorials and giving out tips and tricks for all skin colours. Key words being all skin colours. They want to encourage an industry and cosmetic culture that is both inclusive and diverse. Joanna Siva a member from the MISS organization says the Unfair and Lovely campaign inspired her to join the organization.
“I’ve never been considered fair and I’ve had people put me down for it ever since I was six years old…but now I don’t care because I’m unfair and still lovely.”
The campaign brought together many different women all over the world to celebrate their differences. Although this may not decrease the large amounts of people who will buy skin lightening products, it raises awareness about colourism and the different colours around the world.