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Being dark skinned, brown skinned, wheatish, etc. are considered the biggest negative in an Indian woman. This was all nonsense, as I discovered for myself.
In this society where the criteria of beauty has always been fair skin, I too fell a victim to it. Since childhood, I have been listening to endless suggestions and comments like “Use fair & lovely regularly,” “Chandan facepack is good for a skin tone like yours,” “Besan ka ubtan will make you fair without fail, use it daily,” “You should bleach your skin,” etc. I realised people can go to any level to look fairer without giving a second thought to the possibility that some harsh chemicals might damage their skin. All they want is a ‘beautiful, fair, glowing girl’.
Even matrimonial ads say “Seeking fair girl”.
You will never find dark skinned poster babies.
Pregnant ladies are advised to eat particular foods to give birth to a fair child.
A bride is given a truckload of ‘fairness tips’ to look fair on D-Day.
Beauty parlours don’t leave any stone unturned in whitewashing a dusky girl like me to look white on her wedding and flaunt her before and after pictures on their sites.
Being a wheatish girl, I had developed an inferiority complex because of every single person who was fairer than me. I never liked to get pictures clicked in the dark or with fair people, as everyone used to tell me, “It will come out as black and white!” I used to choose clothes very cautiously so that I don’t look darker. I started avoiding going out in sun. People used to ask, “where is she gone?” if we were in a dark room or theatre. I would laugh with all of them, but in my heart, it was humiliating.
In my early childhood, I remember being a carefree girl, and never gave a flip about how I looked; but gradually, as I grew older, I started noticing the comments of everyone, and I started losing confidence. As a young girl, those silly comments had really brought me down. All those stupid things people had said hurt me to an extent where I started seeing myself in the same twisted way the world saw me. I would never ever wish this on anyone else.
In the quest to lighten my skin color, I tried all the beauty soaps and creams available in the market but realised that nothing worked for me. I don’t blame those ubtans or products (if at all anything worked!) because I did not have enough patience to complete their course and wanted to get results overnight.
So, finally I discovered that all those soaps and creams might get browner with my application but they can’t do any good to me. That is when I stopped focusing on them as I knew I couldn’t do much about it. (Confession: A part of me still wanted to look fair.)
But over the years, I realised that it’s about inner beauty and not the external one. To me, the most beautiful person on this Earth was my father, who was also a dark complexioned person, but I had never seen a more beautiful person inside out than him. After a lot of introspection, I asked myself, “Do I really need to have fair skin to look beautiful? Papa is dark too but he has a heart of gold, everyone loves him. Then why do I want a white skin? Why I am running after it for years? When I treat him as my role model then why to change the way I look? Why can’t I be happy in my own skin?”
It is then that I noticed my strengths and virtues, and really started loving myself.
Colorism is a growing disease which discriminates against individuals on the basis of their complexion. We are embedded with a sick mentality that says, “You need to have a fair complexion to look pretty.” Indian media and Bollywood has surely added more onto this delusion by promoting more and more fairness products showcasing a girl who is not getting married because of her dark skin, and when she uses such whitewashing products, she gets her prince charming OR even worse, she gets a job only after getting fair. There are many Bollywood actor and actresses with dark skin who underwent beauty treatments to become fairer, setting an example for this society and promoting this fallacy.
We should learn to love people for their soul and heart which actually makes one beautiful, and not the skin colour. Time takes the toll of beautiful skin, it gets rashes and wrinkles, but internal beauty never dies. We as a society have to stop shaming people and putting them down for the things that make them unique. It could be anything – skin colour, voice, dressing sense, lifestyle, anything.
This message is for all the beautiful people out there. You are beautiful in your own way, stop seeing yourself with others eyes and believe in your inner beauty. Love yourself the way you are and the world will love you too. You can conquer the world with your uniqueness and not being fair.
Today, I happily say: Yes, I’m beautifully brown!
Published here earlier.
Image source: shutterstock
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Mom of twin girls, a blogger turned author, a dreamer, a traveler and an artist
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