How Unfair: This Prejudice Cuts Across All Of Indian Society

Posted: May 23, 2015

Is the prejudice against dark skin linked to lack of education? Or rather, is this prejudice going strong among so-called educated Indians too?

One summer evening at my Moms Club, while chatting, one mom said that her daughter was turning dark from her rigorous summer camp activities. She also vowed not to send her again next summer, saying that she looked ugly with her darker skin. I got pissed off hearing that and with my disgust showing, told her we have to make our girls confident rather than conscious about their skin tone. I am appalled to see the way some mothers discouraged sun exposure, especially for a girl child. This mom here is a good friend of mine, well educated, affluent and lives in the Western world!

Let me now share another incident. I was chatting with a woman who is uneducated and underprivileged. She is a mother of two girls and doesn’t mind that her daughters are dark. She wants them to be well educated. She works hard and strives relentlessly to make ends meet. I applauded her in my mind for being so sensible, determined and free of prejudices. She is my domestic helper. I do not know how to react to this juxtaposition. Why can’t we, the so-called erudite folks, change our mindset? Why are we so obsessed with fairness and a fair skin tone?

Think about it – Draupadi from the Mahabharata was dark, but elegantly beautiful and the most sought after damsel of her times. It is believed that Cleopatra was not fair as well! This obsession for fair skin surely reflects a colonial hangover. Times have changed but our mindset hasn’t. We need to change our mindset and stop worrying about the colour of the skin. I think it is high time to shed all deep rooted prejudices against dark skin and scrap the belief that fair means beautiful and being fair is the key to success.

Do we ever value or admire artists, singers or painters for their fair skin tone? So many people around the world are successful despite not being fair skinned. To name a few are Serena Williams, Naomi Campbell, Halle Berry and many Bollywood actresses. Did dark skin play any role ? No – it is sheer talent, confidence and hard work that did.

I have seen many teenage girls suffer from low self-esteem and lack of confidence, and develop an inferiority complex all because they are shamed for being dark skinned. I am aghast, but can they be blamed for that? From banning fairness cream adverts to criticizing stars for endorsing those products to launching campaigns such as ‘Dark Is Beautiful’ – it still does not seem to be to depress the societal pressure around fairness.

We must break the notion of a stereotypical beauty quotient and stop complaining about the melanin in our body. On a lighter note, this melanin pigment protects us from the sun’s harmful UV rays! I am hopeful that someday in time, a change will come when our fetish for a lighter skin tone would not be reflected anymore, whether in matrimonial ads or in the form of fairness product promos in the media.

I’d like to sum up my thoughts by reiterating that a person’s worth is certainly not judged by their skin tone. Be confident, hone your innate skills and nurture your talents, love yourself and embrace what you are born with – fair or dusky. Start looking beyond skin colour to health and wellness….Let’s celebrate our inner beauty and be humane to others too! Enjoy the sun, swim, run, jog and play sports with a carefree mind.

Image of a young girl from Shutterstock

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