2020 just may have brought a big change for the ever-booming beauty industry. With more collections, flatlays and international brands entering the Indian market, the expanding world of beauty may just have to stop in its tracks and reassess its misleading promotions. The government has just released the new draft for Drug and Magic Remedies: Objectional Advertisements Act 2020, which will force both small and big beauty brands to be more accountable and take responsibilities for the promises they offer. Objectional Advertisements Act 2020 includes hefty fines and even imprisonment for ads that promote fairness creams and products to reverse premature ageing etc.
The Draft: Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act 2020
The government has proposed to amend the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954 which hasn’t been updated till date. In order to keep “pace with the change in time and technology”, The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has proposed a draft that promises to crack down on both small companies and giants that run their business on misleading advertising and incomplete information.
The draft suggests imprisonment which may extend to 2 years and fine up to 10 lakh rupees in the case of a first conviction, and 50 lakh rupees and 5-year imprisonment in the case of a subsequent conviction.
The current law subjects to imprisonment up to six months, with or without a fine, for the first offence, and up to one year, for a second-time conviction.
A mere glance through Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954 and you’ll find that it does condone inappropriate or misleading advertisements for most health conditions like cancer, diabetes, tumours and venereal diseases (amongst other), the new draft adds and addresses objectionable advertisements most commonly found in the world of skincare and lifestyle. These subjects include fairness of skin, form and structure of the breast, premature ageing, premature greying of hair, improvement in the strength of natural teeth and sensitive teeth too.
It has also added fines and punishments for misleading ads for AIDS, Epileptic fits and psychiatric disorders, insanity, sexual impotence in men, sterility in women amongst others making it to a total of 78 subjects in the draft. The draft is yet to be passed.
What Will It Mean For Advertising Campaigns?
Many beauty giants will (hopefully) have to re-look or re-design their brand campaigns that offer 6-week treatments to get fair skin . “I hope this new draft will also make celebrities think before they endorse fairness creams or similar products which they never use or have enough knowledge of,” says Dr. Apratim Goel, a cosmetic dermatologist based in Mumbai.
Or as Stuti Bhattacharya in her article in iDiva says, brands should be forced to leave the old ways of giving out incomplete information and misleading campaigns.
Brands have found a way to not use “fairness cream” but words like “true white”, “white glow” and “healthy white” which can now be questioned and someday, stopped.
The Pressure Is On Every One Of Us
It’s not just women in low-income groups that suffer through life for the colour of their skin. “I often see mothers, mother-in-laws who bring in their daughters or brides-to-be to brighten their skin. When it comes to beauty standards in India, it’s a mix of societal pressures that most Indian women undergo through their life,” says Dr Goel.
The educated upper and upper-middle class is responsible for going to dermatologists and are equally responsible for asking for treatments that often lighten skin. “Pharmaceutical companies are actually now selling supplements and infusions to salons who don’t have trained staff to even explain the implications or process of using whitening products,” worries Goel. Hopefully, this act can help in monitoring and regulation of whitening supplements and procedures.
Glutathione supplements or IV infusions often not really advertised on the Internet but used by high profile clients who gradually want to see a change in their skin tone.
You want to look at celebrity transformation? Look at Ranveer Singh in Band Baaja Baraat and then look at him today.
Even his wife Deepika Padukone has changed her skin colour since her launch in Om Shanti Om. In fact, there’s a Quora thread on the same.
With the ongoing debate on colourism, the draft can actually reset the language of beauty advertisements. And someday, we’ll have Bollywood stars who not only skip endorsing fairness creams but using them too.
Here’s How You Can Make A Change
For now, take some responsibility onto yourself.
Read every ingredient label on every skincare product you use and buy. Promising Vitamin C and using bleach is not OK!
Use social media: be vocal about lack of shades for your skin tone. Many influencers have taken up this cause and you should use your voice too.
Help every girl whose self-confidence is in tatters due to the colour of her skin.
And someday, we’ll read the matrimonial section in a newspaper to find matches for educated, confident and awesome brown girls!