Global consumer brand Unilever has announced a new name for its skin-whitening cream Fair & Lovely in response to criticism that the product promotes racist colorism in South Asia and the Middle East, but critics say it’s not enough.
The new name will be Glow & Lovely, the company’s local division announced in a statement distributed to Indian media on Thursday.
“Over the next few months, Glow & Lovely will be on the shelves and future innovations will deliver on this new proposition,” Hindustan Unilever said, also announcing that the men’s version of the cream would become Glow & Handsome.
News of the rebranding drew flak and a wide array of memes on social media, including from Indian film director Shekhar Kapur and “Game of Thrones” actor Nathalie Emmanuel. Many pointed out the colorism rampant in India, one of the cream’s primary markets, and said replacing “fair” with the word “glow” did little to change the fact that the product was still designed to alter one’s skin tone.
The “Glow & Handsome” variant of the name also drew a response from Indian health care company Emami, which produces a product called Fair And Handsome and said it had already trademarked the name “Emani Glow & Handsome.”
A Emami spokesperson told local media that the company was consulting legal experts and said Hindustan Unilever was engaging in an “unfair business practice, which has been prevalent time [and] again to damage our brand image.”
Unilever first announced intentions to review its branding last week, explaining that the company was removing the terms “fair/fairness,” “white/whitening” and “light/lightening” from its goods. The move came amid renewed focus on the product as Black Lives Matter and racial injustice protests continued to take place across the United States ― a cause supported on social media by a number of Indian celebrities, including Priyanka Chopra, who has promoted skin lightening creams in the past.
Products like Fair & Lovely have long been criticized as racist for promoting light-colored skin as the standard of beauty in South Asia and other regions with histories of colorism.
Sunny Jain, president of Unilever’s Beauty & Personal Care unit, said in a press release issued at the time that words such as “fairness” “suggest[ed] a singular ideal of beauty that we don’t think is right, and we want to address this.”
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