Bollywood actors called out for protesting racism while promoting skin whitening creams

Bollywood actors posting against racism in the wake of George Floyd’s death and worldwide demonstrations have been called out on social media this week for their promotions of Indian skin lightening creams like “Fair and Lovely.”

When the actress Disha Patani tweeted a graphic last week reading “ALL COLOURS ARE BEAUTIFUL,” Twitter users were quick to call her out for her promotion of a Pond’s “Fairness” BB cream, advertised as a face product to whiten skin.

“YOU LITERALLY WORK FOR FAIRNESS CREAM COMMERCIALS THAT SAY "zyada gorapan …," one person tweeted. The words translate into "more whiteness."

Priyanka Chopra, who has done commercials for a Garnier skin bleaching cream, faced similar backlash on Instagram after posting in support of Floyd.

“Sorry, but you never spoke against mob lynching, Kashmir lockdown, hundreds of transphobic & homophobic actors/films you have worked with or in, and misogyny,” one person commented on her post.

“No one wants your selective outrage,” another user commented.

Last year, Chopra was slammed for publicly supporting the Indian government and the armed forces during the repeal of the autonomous status of Kashmir, a disputed state that is claimed by both India and Pakistan. She had also invited nationalist Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to her wedding with singer and songwriter Nick Jonas.

Fairness creams — notably damaging to the skin — and colorism are not new phenomena in Bollywood. Even the industry’s most famous actor, Shah Rukh Khan -- the "King of Bollywood" -- who has nearly 92 million social media followers, has done commercials promoting creams with the slogans “Fair and Handsome” and “Flawless. Spotless. Pearl perfect fairness.”