Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d know that George Floyd’s murder has people all over America (and the internet) protesting in support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. People all across the world are raising their voice in support. Celebrities are also taking this time to use their platform to reach as many people as possible as they stand in solidarity with the movement too. Pakistani celebrities are no different.
As many other celebrities posted, so did actress Zara Noor Abbas. She took to Instagram and shared a video of a young girl giving a very moving speech about “why black lives matter”. She captioned it “Imagine. Our kids. People we know. Go through this. Every day of their life. Just because of their skin color. Then adds up their societal balance of class. Bank account. Assets. They have to fight for the basics such as breathing. Racism is a war. Not a threat to humanity. Its a war that we have to fight against so much so that we have to re-invent, re-grow, re-think every thought and idea about classism. Differences. Sexism. Everything.
NO ONE DESERVES THIS.”
As great as this caption was, it urged another user to comment on the fact that Zara has been part of “selling” colourism too. She called her out by commenting “REALLY LIKED YOUR FAIRNESS CREAM ADD”
The comment pointed towards a fairness facewash commercial Zara had been in a only a few weeks ago:
To this, Zara replied: “Good, because that does not promote killing. Does not promote racism. Stop making this out of context when its not the agenda. Your word doesn’t matter here. What matters is human life and equality and this is what I am here for. A face wash is killing no one,”
This is something that everyone found problematic. Someone that is against racism shouldn’t be oblivious to what they’re promoting. Sure, it’s just another ad to make money from, celebrities need to earn from somewhere but that doesn’t mean that “fairness creams don’t promote racism” because they do.
Saying that not being fair enough means that “you’ve lost your brightness/glow” is problematic in a country where a lot of us are not the fairest.
Fairness cream ads show women that are “darker” at first. They show how nothing goes their way, they can’t get married, can’t get a job and are just overall sad. What will fix all their lives problems though? FAIRNESS!
All she needs to do is use this magical “White beauty” cream that will make her fair and “goriii” and all her problems will disappear! That man that wouldn’t look at her? He wants to marry her! That job she couldn’t get? They’re begging to have her! Problems? Woh hota he Kia hai???
Pakistan is still a country where women (and some men too) are treated horribly if they’re darker-skinned. Babies are still subjected to painful and dangerous totkas to make them “white” and kids are still bullied in schools for being “kaala”.
Colourism IS a problem in Pakistan and it DOES contribute to racism.
For someone that’s educated and understands body-shaming and shaming in general, Zara knows that the promotion of fairness creams to a population like Pakistans DOES do damage. Knowing this yet totally denying it is not right. Not at all.
We need to understand that just because something hasn’t happened to you, doesn’t mean that it’s not happening somewhere else. Just because you’re not facing it, doesn’t mean no one else is.