A Blog from Amman, Jordan, Online Since 2004.

Fair and… not so lovely

NOTHING annoys me more than the unbelievably annoying, sexist, shallow, and stereotypical commercials of “natural fairness cream” Fair&Lovely. No. It doesn’t annoy me, it downright pisses me off.

A typical Fair&Lovely commercial scenario starts with a little dark skinned Arab girl dreaming of being a television star (add singing into combs and dressing up in mommy’s heels). Fast forward a few years, the girl is in her early 20’s and isn’t getting anywhere in regards to her dreams, and so mommy decides to whip up the magical bottle of Fair&Lovely that not only supposedly makes the girl prettier, but also drastically improves her personality and lands her a fantastic job followed by a wonderful career.

The last scene in the commercial that particularly pissed me off ends with the now-a-big-star-thanks-to-fair-and-lovely-girl giving a little speech on how Fair&Lovely changed her life, “I discovered that my skills, my college degree, and my personality are not enough to obtain the success I wanted in life- I have to be also beautiful. Thanks Fair&Lovely for making me beautiful.”


Fair&Lovely, you are evil for enforcing the stereotype that with fairness comes beauty, as I’m sure a lot of the girls watching your stupid commercials actually fall for your claims and start feeling bad about their gorgeous olive-skinned complexions. Just because you want to sell your product.

Fair&Lovely, you are offensive for advertising your product with the stereotype that women have to be beautiful to be successful, rather than putting down the great qualities of wit, knowledge, self-confidence, and various other personality traits that we should encourage rather than dispel.

Advertisements could be such a dangerous weapon when it makes an impact on a young mind. The effect of such bullshit advertising on the mind of a young girl trying hard to make a career for herself while all the while being constantly bombarded by ads on TV showing that personal skills and wits are just a secondary add on to looks.

It is not that I am against whitening creams, although as someone who spends hours tanning, I do not understand the fixation with fairness. I mean, whatever makes a person happy and comfortable is good, whether it is bleached hair, tan-in-a-bottle (my guilty pleasure), or a nose job. But I am very much against stupid advertising that works on girls’ self-esteem to sell a product.

Bleh! So you think MBC would give a bull’s crap if we send letters and emails asking them to not show the stupid ads?


Death of an Artist




  1. EP

    This post has been removed by the author.

  2. EP

    hahha what about that ad about how the # 4 is her favorite.

    she said: I have 4 sisters
    and some random things with 4

    then at the 4th job interview. her skin is the problem.. oh god, they can’t hire her because she’s a bit dark. anyway, she puts on that shit on her face. and then she’s whiter -and as a matter of fact, uglier- and does the interview. and when she says: “this is (name) reporting from egypt” and finishes the scene they all do these over-excited actions as if they had released a frickin space shuttle in the sky. and then that arse-faced guy tells her: “what are you doing today at 4?”

    I mean, WTF!
    If you didn’t watch it, you SHOULD watch it. See that we hit rock bottom (commercial-wise).

  3. Natasha and Shaden wrote about this too. I consider this ad offensive; these guys (the advertisers) are pathetic and I really feel sad for them.

  4. Don’t get so upset about it.. Indians have this ad for more than a decade now.. and that’s what upsets me the most.. we’re not even no.1 at this ****.

    Come to think of it.. it’s a fact.. she wouldn’t be having an interview unless she had tons of stuff on her face (just like any average woman).. so what’s another cream added to the mix?!

    psssst be careful: some might consider what u’ve written as a racist thing coz u didn’t mind any ad for “have a tan”..

  5. CCee, it is not about the junk or the whiteness craem, its about the message it’s sending out.

  6. Actually the agency that made this ad should be contacted.

    I’m not sure MBC will be welling to expose their clients, so this should be an inside job or something.

    What worries me, is that some will tell you, this is why women should wear Burkha.

    Maybe Roba you should talk to a female PM, ok am I crazy?

    The problem is people grow up to believe that the whiter the girl is, the more beautiful she’s. And I quote this folkloric Egyptian song: البت بيضة بيضة بيضة
    okay maybe not folkloric.

    But Roba, please do keep speaking up! People should get used to hear what the others have to say again the social norms and stereotypes.

  7. I heard the ad was banned in India. I wish the Middle East would follow suit. It’s so blatantly sexist and racist. It belongs in a different century.

  8. How stupid! Everyone knows that the key to being successful in life is to be cool! And the only way to be cool is to wear $200 raybans while chain-smoking Marlboro Red Box. That’s outright false advertising!

  9. Drastically insignificant issue, compared to the real-life problems women are subjected to. A smart and educated woman can look at such an ad and ignore it or even laugh at it, but she will not be able to ignore domestic violence, harassment, oppression in her own home…..

    And please allow me one more question, when you are feeling “happy” after you tan or you spray that orange-inducing stuff on, do you feel an increase in your self-esteem, and do you feel more “socially capable” ? I mean when you feel like you look good, you end up feeling good and that reflects on your behavior and attitude which may really help you do better in the “interview”…just a thought.

  10. Roba,
    What ever sells .. works. Almost all advertizing work on what you MIGHT achieve and not what it actually does. “If you get this blender, you’d be able to make all these dishes, and Oh how yummy is that, Crowd goes Oooh. Taste this… Crowd goes WOW”
    Now what’s the message? Blender is so great you’ll be a better cook!
    Same in this case, Creame is so great, you will become successful if you buy it. Is that necessarly bad? No, I don’t think so
    It’s always the case in advertizing. (If you buy this car, girls will love you. If you use this shaving creame, you become sexy, etc ..etc)
    Now although I agree with you on how silly this thing is. I don’t find it offensive or demeaning to women. It’s up to each and everyone to come up with a reason why she’s not attractive. “The added confidence that proactiv gives you, the Self esteem this magical slim pill gives you. The Success at work that Enzite gives you(ED pill like Viagra)” All lies. And play on your emotions!

    Let them advertize the way they like, and when you see the add, just think how successfull you can get if you buy thier product and all of a sudden you turn to “Sit El Hoson”

  11. Anonymous

    any girl who think that using fair and lovely will land u ur dream job is a complete retard and deserves to be ripped off..

    in reality, noone believes the story behind the adverts…girls just buy it because it apparantly makes them fairer..

    So in conclusion, barbies dont teach girls to be housewifes or ‘independent’, nor do fair and lovely adverts teach girls that fairer skin gives u a better job (although there may be an element of truth to it)…

    if people were that stupid, then everyone would think that bears could play football after watching suncola ads…

    so take a chill pill, and stop patronising your gender.. i know theyre a bit impulsive at times, but give them some credit..

  12. Roba: I know it’s not abt that specific cream ;)

    Natalia said: [I heard the ad was banned in India]

    grrrrrrrrr again!! they’re still one step ahead of us!!

  13. You tell them, Ruba! You go girl =)

  14. Anonymous

    While on the topic: Have you listened to Digital Underground’s “No Nose Job” off of their album “Sons of the P” (1991)?

    “…Listen, now the black girl wants to get her lip tucked
    She says Doc, I want my slim hips so I’m a slim figure
    The white girl says my hips are not big enough
    And yo, Doc, inject the collagen and make my lips bigger
    All of these so-called celebrities Sellin millions of records and claimin no responsibilities
    A young girl sees you on a TV show
    She’s only six, says ‘Mama, I don’t like my nose!’
    Why’d you have to go and mess up the child’s head
    So you can get another gold waterbed?!
    You fakehaircontactwearinliposuction carnival exhibit
    Listen to my rhyme, you need to hear it!

    “Uh, and you don’t stop, check it
    I smell the message from the TV
    Does my Humpty nose deceive me?
    Smells like the blacker the wacker
    Polly wants to be a cracker, if you let her
    But see for me, the bigger the nose the better
    They say the lighter the righter
    Oh yeah?! Well, that’s tough
    Sometimes I feel I’m not black enough
    I’m high yellow, my nose is brown to perfection
    And if I was to change it’d be further in that direction
    So catch me on the beach, I’ll be gettin a tan
    Make sure there’s no mistake that
    Humpty-Hump is from the motherland
    Layin in the sun, string bikini
    Between the buns of two cuties
    Still mackin, there’ll be no nose job.”

    Particularly poignant, those lines about the young girl’s reaction, no? And I admit the epithet “fakehaircontactwearinliposuction carnival exhibit” is one of my favorites ever.

    -Troy Z

  15. Roba,
    As a male feminist, I couldn’t agree with you more, however and sadly as Qwaider said, whatever sells, works. And as a company they had to come up with an advertising campaign that is the most affective, this is not saying that i defend the company or their policy, but the fact still remains, they’re only in it for the money, do they really care if their products works or if it will truely affect or impact some girls life? i doubt it.

  16. Anonymous

    intersting remarks about the ads, the way I always saw those ads as active lively women living thier lives, actually I never used fair and lovely, I m one of those tan addicts but I love their song “Yalla 7ebbi il 7ayat” I feel it is uplifting …. considerably their ads are successful from the number of times they are repeated and the new formulas they advertise …. Funny enough it is not allowed in european airports to sell whitening cream … now i m not sure about their department stores but they consider them not healthy for the skin … Go figure with half of our arab world using them …

  17. I have been laughing at these comercials for a while, but don’t forget we are working towards equality and now they have “Fair and Handsome” for men ;)

  18. The ad needn’t be banned, it’s enough to boycott the product.
    Every race and ethnic group has its own beauty. For every individual, the colour of skin and hair he(she) is born with suits best. I feel sad when I see a dark woman with blonded hair. In 95% of cases, it doesn’t suit her at all.
    Arab women must be happy that their skin isn’t too fair. When I have time to care for my beauty, I use whitening cream to reduce the marks tattoed by the merciless Sun into my too-fair-for-the-climate skin.
    I’m glad I’ve never used “Fair & Lovely”! Just stuff people sell in pharmacies.

  19. Its really funny to see how different people react to different things. And importantly to the same thing!!! As much as the difference of opinion matters, it still is important not to miss the point of discussion.
    The complaint of Roba being accurate (self esteem is not a tub of whitening cream…)let us not forget that all of us maybe barring a few, are extremely cautious or at least aware of how we look and thus feel about ourselves. The ones usually not aware, or the ones who have given up the chase, are not really people who dont care about how they look. They have just moved on past the phase where achievement or accolades dont matter. And mind you I am not talking about slobs. They are not under discussion here!
    Advertisers are simply highlighting the need or the urge for people to identify their utmost desires. Even as we discuss this dont you feel that you know this girl in the ad from real life. The belief that it will work is what sells these products. And that is the digusting part. Personality changes like these should be a miracle though. Psychiatrists should be happy for finding such an easy solution.

  20. Yes, right Laith. Most interesting thing is that their Fair and Handsome cream is getting quite popular in India.

  21. Mary

    Hi there!!! I mean they must be thinking that them girls with these so adorable olive skin tones are stupid!!! This is just plain stupid and fuckin annoyin if sumone is told ( by the media) that they have to be fair to look good but also to get far in life!! WTF They need a good asswoopin if ya ask me, those guys from hindustan bla blubb dont know what they are called. Anyway fairness cream advshould be not on tv, and not in this kinda way!!!

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