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Our Fixation With Fairness: Not-So-Lovely

Posted: May 17, 2014

An obsession with fair skin is a widespread disease in India. Is it taking our focus away from being good, confident people? 

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Every time I look at matrimonial ads in the paper, or online, there is one word that always stands out – ‘Fair’. This word is mentioned more than the words ‘bride’ and ‘groom’, too! Everyone needs a fair bride. Is one ill mannered or less beautiful just because his/her skin color is not fair? I’m yet to come across a matrimonial ad which says “wanted: dusky and beautiful bride” or “dusky and lovely girl” or “skin color no bar”. Apparently, to many, ‘dusky’ doesn’t sound good with ‘beautiful’ and ‘lovely’.

India has never been one. People have always been categorized and slotted here. People from the North are fair and those from the south, popularly known as Madrasis are not. Remember the hype Nina Davuluri caused when she won the Miss America crown this year? Indians rejoiced, but would she have won if she was based in India?

Remember the hype Nina Davuluri caused when she won the Miss America crown this year? Indians rejoiced, but would she have won if she was based in India?

When was the last time you saw a dusky girl lift the Miss India crown? If the poor girl was in India she would have been cursed by her parents for her skin color, and a hefty dowry would be presented to her husband to compensate for her skin color.

The most saddening thing I saw, was the sale of some fairness potion on national television. A well known actress was promoting it. I bet she wouldn’t dare to use it even once. In this ad, a girl is shooed away from home by her parents because she was not fair. The girl somehow gets hold of this potion and becomes fair, comes back, and is accepted wholeheartedly. These ads always emphasize upon the urgent need of getting fair and regaining our lost self-esteem. For people with not-so-fair complexion, this is almost like getting assaulted for what they are.

For people with not-so-fair complexion, this is almost like getting assaulted for what they are.

On one hand, the parents, peers, family members keep reminding you of this so called ‘curse’ and on the other, these TV ads try their best to lower one’s self-esteem! I once saw this tagline of a fairness cream brand on home shopping- “Fairness=Beauty=Success. Dark skin=Ugliness=Failure”. Is this right?

Maybe this entire thing started off with the ‘White’ Britishers ruling the ‘Brown’ Indians. Maybe white skin was always considered as a sign of higher authority. And maybe we will never stop appreciating white skin and looking down upon the not-so-white ones.

Pic credit: anoldent (Used under a CC license)

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