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Because apparently the color of my skin just wasn't acceptable, and if I wanted to find a good husband in the future and be successful, I needed to take care of my skin and become fair.
Just like many South Indian girls, one of the ‘compliment’ I heard the most growing up was, “you’re brown, but so pretty.”
I never knew how to reply to that, so I just awkwardly smiled and nodded before changing the topic. Now I’m an adult in my mid twenties, and I still see people saying it to me and many young girls. And let me tell you, your so-called compliment is not making them happy.
It’s a known fact that Indian aunties love to give advice to kids, teens and basically everyone younger than them.
So, growing up I had my fair share of people telling me not to play in the sun, in the sand, to apply curd, or tomato or sandal… Because apparently the color of my skin just wasn’t acceptable, and if I wanted to find a good husband in the future and be successful, I needed to take care of my skin and become fair.
Now this may seem such a simple thing to most people, they’re just giving you advice to become prettier… Right? But by telling this you’re telling the girls, they’re not enough, that they’re not beautiful to begin with, and the color of their skin is something to be changed.
For years, I wasn’t happy with my own skin, my own body, and everything about me. I never felt beautiful or confident. I starved myself so I’d lose weight, and I kept changing soaps so I’d become fair, which affected me both physically and mentally.
As I grew older, I learned to understand and appreciate my body. I put it through a lot, but it still allowed me to do everything I need. It was hard, but I slowly started loving my body and all its imperfections. And the confidence and strength I gained from it, changed my life.
And now I use that strength to help both girls and boys who are underappreciated, who were the last ones to be picked, who were bullied for the way they looked… I am sorry the society has been cruel to you. Just remember you’re perfect the way you are. Be kind to your body and to that of others.
And to the people who judge, you’re not doing them a favour by advising them to change things they cannot change. If you can say, “You’re pretty,” to a fair skinned girl/boy, then you can most certainly say the same to a brown person without making comments on their skin tone.
Image source: shutterstock
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I recommend reading Manjiri Indurkar's Origami Aai alongside her memoir to have a fulfilling and enriching experience of telling one's story with grace.
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The collection is divided into four segments, beginning with the family, slowly moving towards the world, and finally colliding them together.
We aren’t in mourning, but we are creatures of habit.
So we talk of each one who died of drowning,
and I listen to her stories with the patience
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