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There is no doubt that India is obsessed with Fair Skin. Nandita Das uses real-life experiences to mock this obsession in ‘India’s Got Colour’
‘Dhoop mai mat niklo kali ho jaogi,’ (don’t go out in the sun, you’ll get dark)
‘WANTED a fair girl for marriage,’
‘Kali bhootni,’ ‘
All of these remarks are pretty common for a dark-skinned girl in an Indian household. Being surrounded by mothers who want a ‘Gora bachha’, companies that want fair-skinned girls, and brands that run a huge business on the concept of providing a fair skin colour, we cannot deny the fact that we live in a society that is obsessed with fairness.
Actor Director Nandita Das is associated with a Chennai-based NGO, Women of Worth. With them she advocates for colour neutrality and discourages discrimination based on skin colour. She, recently, launched a music video. The video mocks the hypocrisy of our society and to celebrate the diversity of skin tones in our society. Starring people of various skin tones, the videos highlights the fact that India is a land of colours.
Titled ‘India’s Got Colour,’ the video stars notable names like Ratna Pathak Shah, Radhika Apte, Kanwaljit Singh, Gul Panag, Swara Bhaskar, and others. The pop lyrical video is a combination of scenes, rants and a rap. It starts with Nandita Das saying ‘India as has many colours as the number of people, but still we don’t learn’. Then everyone gets into singing ‘Dekha hai tumhe dhutkarte hue, taane marte hue, tumhe ha, Raang ka mazak udate hue – udate hue tumhe ha’ (We have seen you mock people and make fun of colour).
The video breaks into smaller skits accompanied by a rap. These skits mock the everyday colourism. They mock how for our men ‘Dark girl is fine for a date,’ but to marry, ‘you need a fair one.’
Also how women are given precautionary measures like ‘Don’t drink tea, you’ll have dark skin’ or ‘Don’t go out in the sun, you’ll look dusky’ so that they become fair. It further highlights our industries’ double standards. As in how in posters and magazines, heroines or models who have a darker skin tone are photoshopped and loaded with makeup so they look fair. Not just that, the video also touches the harsh reality of how in our society fairness dominates talent.
One of the most moving part about the video is that it highlights just how normalised colourism is. And how we’ve become so accustomed to it that we don’t find a problem with it anymore. Either we directly taunt women or we give them the so-called precautionary measures; nurturing colourism in one way or another.
Judging people based on their colour is not new in our country. The idea that white skin is ideal was hammered in our brains owing to colonialism where the Britishers got it in our heads. We were repeatedly made to believe that ‘white is superior and pure.’ Though we were freed from the Britons 73 years ago, their ideals of fair being ideal still hasn’t freed us.
The situation today is so bad that now everyone, from our families, to neighbours, to companies, to celebrities tell us that if you don’t have fair skin, no one will marry you, there would be no jobs for you and you’ll physically combust because of the dark skin.
Add to this the societal pressure to look fair, so much so that girls at a very young age use fairness creams, bleach and even have medical treatments done for the ideal fair skin.
This concept is so popular in our country, that an industry worth $450 million runs on it. Long term use of fairness creams loaded with bleach and steroids can lead to serious problems, even skin cancer. Yet many young girls use it. Wanna know why? Because ‘Kaale kaale chashme to gore gore galo pe hi ache lagte hai na! (Black glasses look good only on white cheeks, right?)
According to our society fairness equals acceptance. That is why millions of women are willing to try almost anything for the fair skin. Also associating fairness with acceptance often leads to low self confidence and depression in young girls.
Another thing is that we don’t just ridicule dark skin, we ridicule girls with a fairer skin too. I have a slightly lighter skin tone and often, people tell me, ‘Omg you are so fair!’ ‘You don’t need makeup, you are so white’.
In fact when I was a kid many people told me that I didn’t look ‘Indian’ since I am ‘too fair.’ Trust me, if you think this is appreciation, then you are wrong. I remember how I felt different in front of my friends who thought I was too fair. Though it is nothing compared to the discrimination faced by darker skinned women, it still is a form of colourism.
Hence Nandita Das’ video on this obsession with fair skin is a good way to learn the concept of acceptance and understand that ‘Fair and dark both are lovely’ and ‘Dark is beautiful too!’
Picture credits: YouTube
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I read, I write, I dream and search for the silver lining in my life.
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