From a very young age, a number of us are shamed and discriminated about the colour of our skin. Why is fair always lovely, wonders the writer!
Dhup mein mat jao kali ho jaogi! (Don’t go out in the sun, your skin will become dark.)
Chai mat pio kali ho jaogi! (Don’t drink tea, your skin will become dark.)
Arre shaadi kaise hogi? (How will you get married then?)
Ladki achi hai bas thoda rang daba daba sa hai. (The girl is nice, but her complexion is a bit dark.)
Ladka acha hai par, kitna kala hai! (The boy is nice, but he is dark-skinned.)
I am sure people with the same skin tone as mine must have heard these rhetorical phrases all their lives. People in India have an unfair obsession with fair skin – as if it is in our hands to choose the skin shades.
Besides caste, creed, and religion – colour discrimination, too, is one of the most dysfunctional issues prevailing in our society. It is like living with the truth but finding it too hard to accept because of the illogical societal conditioning and parameters.
Colour shaming has been prevailing in Indian society since the times immemorial. People were treated differently based on the social implications from the cultural meanings attached to their skin colour. The effect of such prejudice is such that it hampers self-esteem, personal relationships and even puts a person in mental distress.
But hey, who cares? You are not fair and saying this is so fair! Why is ‘fair’ only lovely? I always wondered. Even boys are not spared from this melancholy.
I am a dark-skinned woman and I was always labeled as ‘kaali’ in school, and the boys would make fun of me. In family pictures, I would always hide. And was always conscious of the colour of clothes I chose to wear just so that I didn’t end up looking darker.
Well, then the word ‘dusky’ evolved, and this skin colour not only got registered in the colour dictionary but also got due recognition. From black beauty, I transformed into dusky beauty. Voila! What an achievement!
Unfortunately, this diversity in skin colour has created a hierarchy of beauty. It is a hierarchy that tells you that the light-skinned people are the epitome of beauty, while the dark-skinned people fall at the bottom. This, then, creates an unwarranted pressure in the minds of people.
To console me, my family members and my friends used to say that ‘although your skin colour is dark, you have got beautiful features and nice long hair.’ Though, to be very honest, this never helped—rather, it created emotional distress within me.
It isn’t only about me, but also about all the people falling under the same tough spot that could stunt anybody’s self-esteem. Why can’t people just let it be? Jo jaisa hai vo vaisa hai! (We are fine as we are).
What I learned from this whole circus revolving around my skin colour is that I cannot change it, and this is how I was born. I wanted to embrace it long back, but the people around me always reminded me of my shortcomings with their snide remarks. Hence, it got delayed.
But I guess my colour didn’t come in my way for anything I did in my life. It has absolutely no role to play in the major events of my life like from falling in love to getting married to the love of my life to giving birth to a cute little daughter.
This shortcoming is only created by people and the society we live in. It is like mind over matter, if you don’t mind it, it doesn’t matter. Your colour and your body are the most precious things, and you are born the way you are. You can carry yourself well and carry this body with the utmost confidence, which would kill so many stereotypical beliefs.
So, wear that smile and kill these beliefs with your confidence!
A version of this was first published here.
Picture credits: YouTube
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Working towards Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Awareness. Helping Women Forge
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