Bollywood actress Kalki Koechlin has slammed her peers in India for endorsing skin lightening creams. The 32-year-old says the country promotes the beauty standard that fairer skin is best but this notion should be banished.
Taking part in International Women's Day, Koechlin said: "I don't think there is anything wrong with being fair. But when an entire nation basis its idea of beauty on being fair it's sad, because there are such beautiful people who are dusky, or of a different skin tone."
Admitting her support of products to benefit the healthiness of her skin, Koechlin continued: "I endorse an anti-ageing cream because I do feel I have to take better care of my skin with age. But I am clear that fairness is not something I promote with them. In fact, I would love to endorse a cream which makes me darker, I am always trying to get a tan!"
Aishwarya Rai, Shah Rukh Khan and Sonam Kapoor are among the high-profile Bollywood actors and actresses to have publicly supported such products. Khan is the face of Emami, a company which sells men's fairness cream Fair And Handsome, while Rai has fronted L'Oreal's campaign for White Perfect, a "complete skin lightening range".
Koechlin, who is of French descent, has suffered racial abuse despite being born in India, revealing in the AMA: "'Go back to your country', 'loose moral girl' etc,' were some of the reactions described. If only they knew i was born in Perriamudaliachavadi!"
During the question and answer session with fans, Koechlin also addressed the gender pay-gap issue in Bollywood, echoing the controversy in Hollywood. The actress said: "Equal pay won't happen because there is a hero-based industry. Only when women are pulling in people to the cinemas in leading roles like Deepika [Padukone] in Piku, and only when this is no longer the exception but the norm, can we expect equal pay. So we need to strive for scripts that empower women, make women our heroes, too."