|courtesy : Google images|
It’s a crime, not to be fair-skinned in our country. I mean God must have been vacationing in Goa for you to be born so dark. In India only the fair have the prerogative to be lovely. They get courted by all the hormonal adolescents of their locality, are wedded to the scion of the rich family, only to produce fair, cuddly babies. Yes, it’s as simple as that. Your fair skin is the passport to a bright future. Employers will chase you like an agitated swarm of mosquitoes, film producers will bring their Rolls Royce to a screeching halt and beg you to debut in their magnum opus and all you have to do is blush and smile coyly.
The world is at the fair maiden’s feet while her dark counterpart looks on longingly.
One look at the ads, TV serials and you’ll know what I’m talking about. The light skinned protagonist will usually be a confident, sassy girl ready to take on the world. The dark skinned girl on the other hand is invariably portrayed as a tragedy queen, whose cup of woe runneth over. She is usually a mousy-looking girl, who smiles once a month and has yet to discover a shampoo. Her future is as dark her skin.
Do you know what that means? That someone with a lighter skin is better than you just because of that. That your skin tone is more important than your degrees and trophies, more important than your struggles and travails that carved your personality, more important than the shine you spread in other’s lives. It is more important than being loving, honest and giving. It means that the fair one is somehow better and more deserving.
The fair always have an unfair advantage especially if it’s a she.
I am not quite sure which came first, the chicken or the egg - unfair media portrayals feeding on our insecurities or the regressive ads that end up reinforcing our colour bias. But I do know this for sure that the skin care industry makes a killing feeding on our fixation for fairness, promising us the sun, the moon and a handsome groom. In reality the “handsome groom” is an ugly, beer-bellied apology of manliness, who went all the way to Nebraska to get his MBA degree. He now earns a six figured salary, drives a Honda City and puts up with his blood-sucking boss’s tantrums. Of course he deserves a fair and comely bride!
It comes as no surprise that so many comely dames are busy slathering fairness creams, readily believing that a tube is an answer to their life’s woes. Disregarding the health risks attached; the fact that most ayurvedic creams contain a harmful alloy of metals - we continue to be largest consumer of fairness products in the world.
And for those of us who care a damn, it seems the entire world is conspiring against our multiplying melanin. It’s tough to find skin care lotions without hidden fairness agendas. From your humble soap, to your body cream, your talc, face wash, even your under arm deo - all of them are threatening to rob your skin of its colour. I mean, what the hell am I supposed to do with fair armpits? For chrissake they are meant to be safely tucked under my arms and displayed only when I have to flex them at 180 degrees! And it’s not that I spend the better part of my day, hanging from a rod, in the neighbourhood park.
And just when you thought fairness could not get any lower, it hit rock bottom with an “intimate wash” that claims to make your privates fresh and fair! What next? An AC that releases fairness inducing ions or lingerie that promises to scrape off your ugly dark skin!
According to Devdutt Pattanaik, renowned mythologist, we were introduced to the politics of colour very early in life, in the most surprising of places; in children’s comic books. We had Gods who were always pink, demons who were always brown and dark gods who were always blue (the colour of divinity). Colours convey the deeper truth – while white stands for domesticity, knowledge, ascetic transcendence: black represents wantonness, desire in all its rawness, nature in its primal elements.
Is it that in our desire to be cultured and in our aspiration to be other-worldly, we choose white over black? No wonder we’d rather be called wheatish, honey, olive, dusky – anything to escape being tagged as dark skinned.
Ironically it is the same earthy tone our western counterparts so crave for. From frying themselves under the sun and risking skin cancer to letting artificial ultraviolet rays in tanning salons give them the bronzed makeover – they will go to any lengths to get rid of their fair complexion. A classic case of what you have is what you don’t want!
Thankfully there are many of us who’d rather be accepted as who we are rather than how we look. We choose to accept and live with our ‘so-called flaws’ and don’t let others trample over our self-esteem. And those of you, who think that a lotion making tall claims can improve your sense of self worth, remember this – if someone likes you for your complexion and not who you are, that person is not worth it.