June 30, 2014

While We Battle the Violence of UNFAIR Advertising….

By Kavitha Emmanuel | Founder & Director, WOW

Image: ASCI (www.ascionline.org)
A resounding 'Thank You' to the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) for introducing new guidelines for fairness products advertisements. While we eagerly await the formalization of these guidelines let’s face the fact that these guidelines will not end skin colour bias from among us.

Firstly, I wonder how many ad agencies welcome this change. It further raises the question as to what loopholes agencies will use to justify “UNFAIR advertising”.

Secondly, people argue and debate about how changing or stopping advertisements that are discriminatory might not necessarily change skin colour perception in the country. When we underestimate the effectiveness of the ASCI guidelines we are denying the obvious powerful influence of the media on young minds in both literate and illiterate contexts. While we know that skin colour bias was not initiated by the media we are firm in our focus to see change in the way colour prejudice is portrayed and reinforced by the media.

Also, the Dark is Beautiful campaign’s mission isn't finished with seeing discriminatory advertisements withheld. We are on a quest to see positive messages on celebrating all skin colours penetrating the media.

I am dreaming of the day when brands would introduce ads that celebrate ‘beauty beyond colour’ and visibly give value and respect to all skin tones. I hope to see people of all skin tones being celebrated and cherished on our movie screens. The campaign beats with a  deeper desire  to see women not being valued merely for their outward appearance but for who they are and what they stand for.

Media is a powerful tool and has the potential to help a society recover from its negative practices and harsh prejudices.

Changing how media influences the nation’s psyche of beauty based on skin colour is part of the Dark is Beautiful campaign’s focus. However, we are always conscious of the need to change mind sets and societal attitudes towards skin colour.If you believe in our mission then be our ambassador by empowering those around you. 

Do your bit by putting back value in people who have faced discrimination.When you find an advertisement that’s repulsive, don’t hesitate to register a complaint with the ASCI. On the same note, lets be on the look-out for brands that are celebrating beauty in all skin tones.

Engage with your community by organizing a DARK IS BEAUTIFUL doodle event, photo booth, or just a simple discussion around the dinner table.

We all need to be in this together to see visible change.  I urge you to welcome and support ASCI’s first step in introducing the guidelines to check discriminatory advertisements.


  1. I have been following this campaign from quite a while and it makes me happy to see that Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) is finally taking the first of many steps that are essential. I have been advocating 'the need to protest the skin colour bias in our society' through my writing and I shall continue to do so. Kindly let me know how I can help further to promote this cause.

  2. thanks for your support! We're happy to know that you are on it as well :)

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