Why Can Only Fair Be Lovely, With Lighter Skinned Women Literally ‘Prized’ Like Objects?

Is fairness the be-all and end-all of life? Is it fairness, and nothing else besides, that makes women attractive, desirable and eligible for love?


Is fairness the be-all and end-all of life? Is it fairness, and nothing else besides, that makes women attractive, desirable and eligible for love?

Gargi is a young woman with striking looks – a slender figure, long cascading tresses, limpid doe-eyes and chiseled features. Yet her dark skin tone has made things tough for her. Owing to this natural attribute she is mockingly hailed as kaali kaluti rather than beautiful. Gargi has borne the  jibes throughout the twenty eight of her existence. Several prospective grooms have found her ‘not suitable’, overlooking the fact that she is a qualified mechanical engineer from a reputed institute.

Teenager Tanya is a shade luckier. Her saanwali /wheatish complexion jells with her shapely nose, medium sized almond shaped eyes and fine lips. However this does not deter her mother from lamenting how her daughter’s matrimonial prospects would improve if only she had a lighter complexion.

Now consider another instance. Anupama has the fabled peaches and cream complexion, though her facial features are nondescript. But fortunately the lustrous complexion worked wonders and a match fixing was cakewalk for her family.

The mythlogical obsession with ‘fair’ skin

Why is bright complexion a near obsession for Indians? Possibly because geographically India is a tropical land. Natives of the tropics have darkish skin owing to deposits of melanin, which is a natural sunscreen. Light or fair skin is therefore limited or scarce.

Even otherwise the fetish for ‘white’ skin is evident in our traditions and customs. References to skin tones are interpolated in the popular myths and legends of the land. Shakti, the mother goddess symbolizing creative energy is depicted as Gauri (the fair one). Maa Durga is described as tapta kanchan varna (hue of molten gold). The immaculate white clad Mahagauri (another avatar of Shakti) is also venerated. In contrast the dark deity Mahakaali ,is at once sinister, enigmatic, formidable, awe-inspiring and fearsome. Moving on further, Radha, Lord Krishna’s divine consort is painted as exquisitely beautiful and (again) fair.

Parting ways with legends and folklore, the era of Colonialism witnessed the advent of Europeans in India. Their physical characteristics stumped the local inhabitants to such an extent that they began to consider the former as a superior race. Alongside their untanned skin possibly became a highly covetable trait. And the rest is history.

Lighter skinned women ‘prized’ like objects?

Like it or not in our daily lives, white, light skinned females are at a  premium be it the matrimonial bazaar, advertising world, or showbiz.

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In Bollywood potboilers the heroes’ love interests i.e the youthful damsels are invariably fair and consequently hailed as gori. Even some popular and outstanding film songs have goris as their pivot point. In our ad world, top models have light skin tones while the duskier ones can be counted on the fingertips.

Makes one ponder: Is fairness the be- all -and end-all of life? Is it fairness, and nothing else besides, that makes women attractive, desirable and eligible for love?

Coming to the brass tacks ‘dark skin’ assumes the proportion of a stigma, silently traumatizing innumerable innocent souls. This explains the proliferation of skin whitening creams, lotions, and potions galore. The efficacy of these products is debatable but the manufacturers laugh their way to the bank.

The psychological aspects may often be harrowing. Fairer siblings look down on darker ones. As if this was not enough, there are garrulous womenfolk and sundry relatives sending out chilly reminders to parents of not-so-fair daughters, that getting them married would definitely cause  hiccups. Such feedbacks create sibling rivalry, jealousy, feuds, low self-esteem and more…


It is time that we as a nation change our  mindset. Instead of grumbling, try and explore myriad ways to accentuate the appeal of dark skin. Depending on the individual’s physical appearance one can play around with colours, style, cuts and silhouettes, and the results will certainly be impressive. Efficient use of makeup can also make a difference.

Lapsing into a personal mode let me confess, that several Saanthal (read tribal) women I have met and interacted with possessed the finest, mesmerizing eyes I have ever seen. Their unblemished skin would be the envy of most Divas. Their luxuriant hair was another asset.

We need to bust yet another myth. In mainstream as well as regional cinema many dusky actresses have attained the pinnacle of success fame and glory via onscreen looks and scintillating performances. Many more  dark, sensuous actresses with tremendous sex appeal are already steadily climbing the ladder of popularity. Wouldn’t it be worthwhile to finally accept the fact that Black is Beautiful?

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About the Author


Am a trained and experienced features writer with 30 plus years of experience .My favourite subjects are women's issues, food travel, art,culture ,literature et all.Am a true feminist at heart. An iconoclast read more...

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