You may not be acquainted with Fair & Lovely; the Unilever brand is sold in Asia and has a huge following specifically in India, where darker skin has historically bore a pervasive and unjustifiable beauty stigma. But while the brand may not be familiar to consumers in the U.S., colorism and the disturbing belief that lighter skin is somehow better is prevalent worldwide — a belief that Unilever has been accused of perpetuating with Fair & Lovely’s products and advertising. And now, after recent petitions and calls on social media to end the production of Fair & Lovely products, Unilever is hoping to make an impact on issue with some global and brand-specific changes.
On Thursday, June 25, Unilever announced in a statement that it would be removing the words fair, fairness, white, whitening, light, and lightening from its product packaging and communication; one of the most visible upshots of this decision will be the renaming of the brand Fair & Lovely within the next few months.
“We recognize that the use of the words fair, white, and light suggest a singular ideal of beauty that we don’t think is right, and we want to address this,” said Unilever beauty and personal care president Sunny Jain in the statement. “As we’re evolving the way that we communicate the skin benefits of our products that deliver radiant and even-tone skin, it’s also important to change the language we use.”
Jain goes on to explain that the advertising, communication, and packaging of Fair & Lovely had been undergoing a shift in India over the last few years to a more inclusive vision of beauty, but that now is the time to change the name of the brand altogether.
“We will also continue to evolve our advertising to feature women of different skin tones, representative of the variety of beauty across India and other countries,” said Jain. “We want Fair & Lovely to become a brand that celebrates glowing and radiant skin, regardless of skin tone.”