This Excerpt Analysis question has been put up by CBSE in its latest additional practice paper for the 2022-23 board exams. Besides, it’s a great topic to write on for competitive exams and general understanding.
Write a paragraph in 100-120 words to analyse the given argument.
Read the following excerpt from an article in a fashion magazine:
‘Colourism’ is the term describing the preference for lighter skin. Several of the world’s biggest advertising firms have come under severe criticism for selling beauty products that promise whiter skin. What is worse is the manner in which these fairness products are being promoted – the parallel drawn between being fair and being successful; the perfect fair heroine showcased in movies; celebrity endorsements of fairness products; and matrimonial advertisements where everyone seeks a fair bride. This type of advertising has created an inferiority complex among darker-skinned women as seen in the rising sales of fairness cosmetics. This form of biased advertising has come under harsh criticism. Are we as a society encouraging and supporting ‘colourism’?
Source: CBSE Additional Practice Question Paper 2022-23
You could think about what alternative explanations might weaken the given conclusion and include rationale/evidence that would strengthen/counter the given argument.
Excerpt Analysis in Favour of Colourism and Advertisements
Sample Answer 1
I strongly agree with the above statement that advertising is perpetuating colour biasedness by suggesting that fairness leads to success and beauty. It has led to the rise in sales of such products and an inferiority complex among dark-skinned women. Instead, the impact of celebrity endorsements and matrimonial advertisements could be investigated further to determine their actual impact on the rise in sales. Furthermore, the role of media representation and the portrayal of dark-skinned individuals in movies and advertisements could be explored as a potential solution to combat ‘colourism’ and promote greater diversity and inclusivity in beauty standards.
(Sample Answer 2)
I strongly agree with the above statement. The promotion of fairness products using fair-skinned individuals as the epitome of beauty is not only harmful but also perpetuates damaging stereotypes. It sends a message that lighter skin is the only standard of beauty and creates a sense of inferiority among those with dark skin. This form of advertising reinforces colourism and promotes systemic discrimination. It is unacceptable that the advertising industry continues to promote such damaging messages, perpetuating harmful biases and perpetuating the notion that darker skin is inferior. The promotion of fairness products through the use of fair-skinned models and celebrities is a clear example of the industry’s failure to be socially responsible and promote inclusivity and diversity. This needs to change, and the industry must take greater accountability and effort to promote diverse and inclusive beauty standards that celebrate all skin tones.
Excerpt Analysis Against Colourism and Advertisements
(Sample Answer 3)
The argument that the promotion of fairness products through advertising creates colourism is not necessarily accurate. It oversimplifies the complex cultural, historical, and societal factors that contribute to the preference for lighter skin. While it is true that advertising has the power to shape beauty standards and norms, it is not the sole cause of colourism. The prevalence of black celebrities and successful individuals with dark skin in various countries serves as evidence that colourism is a result of broader societal attitudes and beliefs, rather than just advertising. Moreover, the depiction of dark-skinned gods and religious figures as beautiful in various cultures also debunks the notion that lighter skin is superior. Thus, it is important to broaden our understanding of colourism and acknowledge its deep-seated roots in order to effectively address and combat it.
Answer given by CBSE for the above colourism Excerpt Analysis –
The desire to be beautiful is natural. What is not natural is determining that only one type of skin
colour is beautiful. We need to be inclusive of all skin tones and look at the diversity of beauty.
Every skin colour shade is beautiful. Additionally, beauty is only ‘skin deep’. We need to stop
equating light-coloured skin with beauty because ‘black is beautiful’ too. ‘Beauty is in the eyes
of the beholder and therefore is a very subjective matter. Discrimination on the basis of skin
shade is therefore not logical. Many such discriminations have been defeated over the past
decades. We should stop encouraging ads that promote colourism. Let us not regress but rather a
progress. Real beauty is the personality and the qualities of a person. The focus should lie on
being beautiful from within, rather than obsessing over outer appearance. (140 words)
Argument AGAINST the subject of the statement:
We as a society have always been obsessed with fair skin tone and it is time to put a stop to
this. This prejudice has been around for way too long, including in our books, movies and real
life. We find a wonderful example in the children’s fairy tale ‘Snow White’, where her mother the
wicked queen asks the magic mirror, “Who is the fairest of them all?” and the mirror replies
saying that Snow White is the most beautiful, thus stressing on inner beauty rather than outer
appearance. Fair skin instils confidence and sets one up for success. Fairer people seem to get
better jobs, deals and life partners, so it’s natural that people will desire to be fair. If some people
want to use beauty products to make their skin lighter they should be allowed to do so without
criticism as it is a matter of personal choice. (150 words)
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