Sanam Jung’s morning show sparks outrage for mocking dark skin


KARACHI: Every now and then, morning shows in Pakistan tend to stir up a controversy resulting in them facing a lot of backlash. However, unfortunately, the backlash does not stay for too long and soon everyone forgets about the drama and tunes into them every morning.

Recently, talk show host Sanam Jung, who hosts the show Jago Pakistan Jago on Hum TV has come under the radar for mocking dark skin.

In the segment of the show titled ‘Mera Makeup Hai Kamal,’ the participants in the competition were given the “challenging” task of dressing up dark-skinned girls into beautiful brides. Ironically, the models they were to dress up were not dusky or dark-toned, they were fair-skinned.

These girls were then given makeovers in which their faces were made darker than the rest of the body before their makeup was done, because after all, doing makeup on dark skin is a feat like none other. Needless to say, the final results were cringe-worthy. And not because the models had supposedly “dark skin”, but because they were artificially made to look dark. Plus, the arms of both the models were visible and they were light in colour, presenting a stark contrast to their faces and the makeup that had been painted on.

To add to that, pointless obstacles were presented to the participants such as they were given insufficient time to do their job, repeatedly interrupted and harassed by the host and mentors and allowed to use only one hand to do makeup. This obviously meant that the end result was a mess as evident in the stills from the show.

The participants also iterated that doing makeup on darker skin is a challenge, with one of them commenting that she has dressed up a plethora of brides but never one, like a “habshan.” Terms like Habshi, HabshanMakrani and Negro were used casually during the episode, belittling Pakistani ethnicities like Makrani and Sheedi.

The episode caused an uproar on social media with many people commenting the backwardness of the show’s makers and participants.

A Facebook user wrote, “When some of you shared this with me, I honest to God couldn’t believe it. Like in my head I was like, there’s got to be something I’m missing here, they’re not THIS blatantly ignorant or stupid for that matter. They took fair skinned girls and literally painted their faces darker with a foundation to prove good makeup could also be done on darker skinned brides. My question is Sanam, was it really that hard to find darker skinned models to do makeup on? This is a caricature like scenario, you’ve painted on a a much darker face onto fair skinned girls, look at their hands and their arms. It’s like you’re purposefully and intentionally making them look comical. How is this not something close to #blackface. I’m going to ask you the same question I asked a brand last week, how did you let this happen? How is this appropriate? How did you let this go live even? If you really had good intentions about darker skin tones and how makeup should be done, you and I both know well this wasn’t the way to do it. Rather you have contributed to an already disgusting sentiment in our society about darker skin tones in a fair skin obsessed Pakistan. I don’t even want to get started on how cringy the actual SHOW SEGMENT was.”

A Twitter user wrote, “What is up with these morning shows? Instead of hiring dark skin beauties they decided to slather dark brown foundation on fair girls?”

Another wrote, “Found this episode of Jago Pakistan Jago utterly offensive! MUA’s were set a task to show darker complexion can also look pretty. The racist word negro was used repeatedly. They hired fair girls instead of naturally darker complexion models. Why do we measure beauty by skin tone?!”

“I feel sick. Lawn campaigns in Pakistan comprise of using indigenous minorities & darker skinned people as props. Morning shows capitalize on the adornment of dark skin as a challenge. We propagate racism at home & complain about it abroad. Disgusting,” wrote another, referring to the recent Sana Safinaz lawn campaign which also sparked controversy for using Kenyan natives as props.

Had Sanam Jung and the makers of the show brought in dark-skinned models and celebrated their skintones, the message they would have sent out would probably have been more positive and stronger. Unfortunately, their segment only supported the bias against dark skin, it mocked it even more. While the team of the show has not released any statement regarding this, pictures and stills from the show have been deleted from the official page of Jago Pakistan Jago.


  1. Really, racism at its pinnacle!!!! We are one of the most racist countries in the world-eyening fairness to beauty!!! Bravo- continue living in the dark ages!!!!such shows should be banned. Created by one brain cell individual! Shame on you, Jago Pakistan Jago.

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