Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 2, Issue 26, Tuesday December 28, 2004







Women & local Ads

The other day at our sociology class in university, our lecturer asked us to do an assignment on how women are portrayed in local TV channels. And on the presentation day, a lot of attention-grabbing facts came up, facts that many of us previously never bothered to scrutinise and criticise. I thank those fellow students who took time and trouble to come up with some raw yet shameful truths of our society.

For most TV channels all over the world, the women are simply objects of beauty. How many times have you watched women on TV as individuals who are independent, smart and courageous? If you take a look at the advertisements that go on air everyday in Bangladeshi television channels, you will see that women are mostly seen in these promotions in the roles of typical housewives, whose passions are mostly cooking, washing, cleaning, and applying fairness creams.

Our ad firms most presumably never bothered to find out the number of educated women who constantly feel humiliated by the commercials of renowned companies selling so-called fairness creams. Who on earth has told our ad makers that complexion is the sole yardstick of judging the beauty and qualifications of women? These ads bear a cheap attitude, which are hard to accept at this era when women are conquering space, flying aircraft, fighting in warfare, leading nations and gracing the chair of C.E.O in giant corporations.

I believe there are millions of people who have faith in the fact that regular features of a person are more important than an individual's skin colour. One of these ads presents a young woman as a loser simply because she's dark skinned and that she can't even get the job of her dream because of her complexion! Not only does this ad disgrace girls and women who don't have light skin, but at the same time lays emphasis on the idea that your aptitudes and attributes play little role in getting you a fine career opportunity .

These advertisements of fairness creams feature girl{ who are rejected by men because they don't have a light skin tone! I asked a few young men if they are only at|racted to fair oirls, and most of them said No. They wouldn't be lying, because two of them are going out with girls who are not by any means fair as per Bangladeshi standards.

However, it is also true that the mentality of local men have changed a lot over the past years; men are now forming their own definitions of beauty. Just the other day, I read in the newspaper that brown skin has become such a big hit in the European fashion arena that some of the white models are considering themselves victims of racial discrimination.

Complexion is something you are born with. You can't change it, maybe you can put on a little glow on it through proper care and makeup, but you can never bring any dramatic change in your skin colour. Yet, companies with world-wide fame continue to try and instil in women the impression that they can change their complexion in just four weeks through regular use of fairness creams. And many women do fall prey to such vague promises. If complexion conversion was that easy, then this world would have been teeming by now with people with skin as white as chalk.

As a business enterprise, it is a company's duty to sell its products any which way it can, but when i| resorts to inferior ideas to alvertise its products, it only earns the company bad publicity. The management of such companies probably never appreciates for once the contribution of women in the modern world. If they had enough respect for women, then they would ha~e never tried to highlight idea{ that it is merely through fair skin that a woman can attain a good job, and that a light complexion is the way one can get a top quality groom.

By Penelope


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