Bridal makeup competitions are a fairly regular feature on morning shows, so we can't blame TV producers for wanting to spice up those segments.
So what did Sanam Jung's Jago Pakistan Jago go and do? They introduced brownface.
It started a little like this: On Day 3 of the competition that was aired on Hum TV yesterday, participants were told by host Jung and mentors Amber and Farida that they were being presented with a particularly difficult task now that they are in the advanced stages of the competition.
What was the said task? Turning dark-skinned models into beautiful brides.
If the implication that 'dark isn't beautiful' isn't offensive enough, it was revealed that the participants will first have to darken the skin tone of light-skinned models using the "Negro" shade of Kryolan TV paint stick foundation and then proceed to figure out how they will do contouring, pick eye shades, etc "on such a dark complexion".
Yes, that's blackface in live action. Well... more like brownface, because our dusky Pakistani women are worth mocking, right?
The participants were restricted from lightening the dark skin of their brides, so much so that they were told to refrain from even colour correcting their undereye circles. This could have been a positive, progressive step because a lot of makeup artists tend to lighten their dusky clients' skin tone instead of working with their natural complexion. However, the opportunity to make such a statement remained untapped.
The participants were instead prevented from focusing on proving their makeup mettle by a series of unnecessary obstacles: they were given insufficient time to do their jobs, repeatedly interrupted and harassed by the host and mentors and were further handicapped by the condition that they could only use one hand to do make-up. As a result, barely any of the participants were able to do a good job.
More regressive aspects of the show: While Farida recognised that the participants could get dark-skinned clients any day, Amber thought it appropriate to emphasise the difficulty of the task by saying, "I've done the makeover of so many brides, but I've never had such a bride, like a Habshan, ever. But you are being presented with this challenge."
Terms like 'Habshi' or 'Habshan', 'Makrani' and 'Negro' were used liberally during the episode.
Fine, 'Negro' is an actual shade in the Kryolan range (they really ought to change it) but Jung should have the awareness to realise the extremely racist connotations of the word and avoid using it on national TV, because she definitely said "Inko dark kar ke negro pe le ke aana hai (Make them dark to get them to look negro)."
It would have been nice if she had commented on the inappropriateness of the shade name. Instead, Pakistani ethnicities like Makrani and Sheedi people were othered by using their names as descriptors for 'unusually' dark-skinned people.
If the show had ended with a monologue that challenged society's bias against dark skin by showing off the work of the successful participants of this round, a lot of the damaging effect of this segment could have been countered.
The show needed to send the message that all skin types look beautiful; it is up to the makeup artiste's experience and skill set to be able to do their makeup appropriately. But unfortunately, by the end of the show, dark skin remained the subject of ridicule.