Has Aishwarya Rai lightened her skin?
Well, most of the Asian world says so. It’s reported that Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai-Bachan’s skin has been lightened on the cover of the Indian version of Elle magazine. This isn’t really a surprise, as many photographs of Bollywood stars have been given an all-over brush with Touché Eclat.
Fair skin has traditionally been associated with affluence in South Asia, similar to the view the western world held centuries ago – remember the chalked-out face of Cate Blanchett when she was portraying Queen Elizabeth I?
Today, fair skin is still ideal amongst the Asian community, whether that community is Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi. This has fuelled a multi-million pound industry, cashing in with so-called skin lightening creams. However, while some products may simply not work, others have more dangerous consequences.
I recently read an article in the Manchester Evening News about how Asian grocers store had fallen foul of trading standards after selling a face cream which contains highly toxic levels mercury.
The article reported how mercury has been banned from cosmetics in the UK for more than 30 years, and ‘using products containing mercury can lead to rashes, itching, and even mental-health problems at high doses.’
The even bigger worry was that the cream had not displayed proper labelling, leaving unassuming buyers in the dark (no pun intended there, this is serious).
It makes me wonder what other products are out there that won’t deliver the benefits they promise, and even put our health at risk. Surma, a form of eyeliner which is popular in Asia and sells in some stores here, is known to contain high levels of lead.
But back to the original issue – is fair skin so desirable that many of us will put our health at risk to achieve this?