#unfairandlovely: The hashtag celebrating dark skin

#unfairandlovely: The hashtag celebrating dark skin

Andre 3000 of Outkast once performed in a jumpsuit emblazoned with the words: “across cultures, darker people suffer most. why?” One way people with darker skin (women, in particular) suffer is by discrimination based on their skin tone.


Referred to as colorism or shadeism, this kind of discrimination is present across many cultures that value lighter or fairer skin tones as more beautiful and feminine. Lupita Nyong’o and Annie Ali Khan, both from Kenya and Pakistan respectively have shared their struggles with having dark skinned in their cultures. Across Asia and Africa, these messages are often bombarded in adverts that promote the virtues of light skin and encourage women to use products to lighten their skin tones.


Fair & Lovely is one of the best-selling skin-whitening products in the world, particularly in South Asia where women are encouraged to use the cream. It is perhaps for this reason that Pax Jones named her campaign which celebrates dark-skinned women globally “Unfair and Lovely.” Unfair and Lovely is direct counterattack to the brand and all the ideas behind it. It is a social media campaign that encourages women to share tweets, selfies, and images that celebrate their darker complexions while fighting the lack of images of dark-skinned people in the media.


While its initial focus was on South Asians, the Unfair and Lovely campaign has broadened to include women from other cultures who face discrimination and underrepresentation due to their dark skin. We have gathered some favorite examples from #unfairandlovely on Twitter and Instagram.


I actually saw ‘Fair & Lovely’ soap at one of my Aunts’ house, which was upsetting because she has basically white skin but her husband and children are dark skinned so feel like they’re going to have deep self hate issues if she thinks it’s okay to have those products in the house since they clearly aren’t for her. I myself was really tempted to use skin lightening products when I was younger and my skin isn’t even dark. I never realised I had self hate, I just knew that I wanted to be as light as my sister, who everyone called beautiful. In our culture, even light brown skin is seen as dark and therefore ugly. :/ South Asians need to work on this internalised white supremacy that’s been passed down the generations. The belief that being dark makes you ugly and you should stay out of the sun to avoid getting a tan is gross and so harmful to the self esteem of our youth. And Bollywood usually casts only light skinned people unless it’s for a character which is unintelligent or something which doesn’t help matters. Yes, colourism/shadeism has likely always existed but it was greatly exacerbated by British colonialism. We might be free of physical colonialisation but clearly not mental when dark children are still told no one will marry them, or dark skinned people are called ‘black’ as in insult. Smh. This is why I love that I’ve found various igs/tumblrs for South Asian representation. It makes a huge difference to see others who are proud of their heritage after being taught ‘white is right’ your entire life. If you ever feel inadequate for having brown skin, remember that the Sun loves you so much that you glow in its presence. ✨ -Noor #DesiSolidarityMovement

A photo posted by Desi Solidarity Movement – DSM (@desisolidaritymovement) on

What is beautiful to us is learned #deeperunderstanding #knowthyself #lovethyself #unfairandlovely

A photo posted by Latoya (@msmakeyoupretty) on

“Finally someone is talking some sense. Its a great initiative. I hope it reaches many dark girls as possible. They need this.” #unfairandlovely #feminist #feminism #southasian #southasianbeauty #desi #desigirl #indian #bengali #pakistan #punjabi #tamil #kannada #telugu #marathi #tamilpride

A photo posted by Offical Page Unfairandlovely (@unfairandlovely) on What will it take to get rid of the global obsession with fair skin? Let us know your suggestions by leaving a comment below or reaching me on Twitter @rafeeeeta

What will it take to get rid of the global obsession with fair skin? Let us know your suggestions by leaving a comment below or reaching me on Twitter @rafeeeeta

Rafeeat Aliyu

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