Romanticism & Practicality!
“Beauty is Truth, Truth beauty…” This famous line of John Keats (October 31, 1795 – February 23, 1821) may trigger a fresh debatable issue in the 21st Century, as to the sense in which one might try to explain the word Beauty… it, solely, would depend on the person. In fact, the concept of Beauty often gets a ground-breaking and comprehensive meaning in conventional saying, or an extraordinary work of a poet, author or artist. Then, it is no longer limited to a certain sense. One can go on arguing the things Keats had meant by Beauty in his “Ode on a Grecian Urn“. While some consider it as the appearance of a person, others have the right to believe that the English Romantic poet meant a good thing in the world. From this particular point of view, we can consider the recent move made by ‘Fair and Lovely’, a skin-lightening cosmetic product by Hindustan Unilever, introduced to the market in India in 1975.
Now, what exactly is the meaning of Fair? As per the English Dictionary, this word can have different meanings… such as just, clear or clean, tolerable, beautiful, logical, bright, etc. However, we prefer to accept the concept of fairness. And, this is probably the beginning and end of the complex situation! Otherwise, the racist idea would not have come to our mind, had we thought of the word fair in an open mind.
In his Sonnet No.18, Shakespeare had portrayed the beauty of a lovely lady. However, her complexion was not at all fair! Cleopatra, the daughter-incarnate of Shakespeare, was also dark-complexioned. Beauty is like a boat, floating in a stormy sea of adolescence and youth, which does not get caught in the clutches of time. Beauty cannot be explained by words, as the concept is not a slave of customs or short-lived instincts. That is why the girls, whose skin tones are not fair, tend to possess extra confidence in the patriarchal society.
However, there is a Greater World where there is a fight going on between Fair and Foul, all the time! This fight prompts the confident girl to purchase a fairness skin cream in order to boost her confidence. In such a situation, Hindustan Unilever’s decision to change the brand name of its product (Fair and Lovely) is a symbolic step.
Words did not create human beings… human beings created the words, mainly with the intention of a wider understanding. Unfortunately, it becomes increasingly difficult for us to get rid of the meanings of a few words. Fair is one such word that guides one to racism, mainly because of its narrow-minded approach. It is important for us to learn during our childhood that each and every word has various meanings… both positive and negative. We should also learn how to reject the negative meanings of the words in order to make the society a beautiful place…
In the early stages of education, the canvas of a child’s mind is ‘Fair and Lovely’ in the truest sense. For the children, ‘fair’ does not mean ‘market’. However, the social customs have a great impact on our respective mind. Hindustan Unilever has taken a small step to change our mind-set. Now, the Indians would have to support this initiative and to bring a change in the society in the coming days…
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