There\’s a bit of a disconnect here. Yes, we know that (especially from the sub-Continent but also in other parts of Asia) the lighter the skin the better looking the woman is considered. Thus the proliferation of lightening creams.
We also know why:
Perhaps it was once a sign of social class: only poor people needed to toil in the sun, so a dark, weatherbeaten face testified to a lowly station. Perhaps the belief hardened during India’s long, violent history, in which power and wealth were associated with fair-skinned marauders such as the Aryans.
Indeed, there are those who argue that (and there\’s sufficient DNA evidence to make their argument stand up, if not to entirely prove it) that the caste system is part and parcel of that ensuring that the light skinned Aryans continue to rule to roost over the darker indigenes, right down the generations.
That first explanation worked in almost all European societies up until the 1950s-1960s of course, when it went into sudden reverse and it was the tan that became the mark of a higher social class (class isn\’t quite right there: status or wealth perhaps). As everyone now worked indoors it was those who could afford to jet away to the winter sun who were displaying status by having a tan, not those with the milky white skin of never having had to work in the fields.
And thus we now have the opposite of those lightening creams: the fake tan and the tanning salon and, yes, they are hugely used by those in exactly the same socio-economic positions as those using the lightening creams.
The disconnect comes in the rest of Anjana Ahuja\’s piece. She has correctly answered the question of why these creams are used. And then spends the rest of the piece asking why these creams are used?