It was a Sunday night when I had tuned into one of my favorite talk shows on TV.. The whole forum was getting ready for an ‘ all-woman’ talk show that day. It was a ‘ Beauty vs Brain’ battle. The show started with a simple question put in front of the women present there… ” What physical feature of yours do you like and what do you think could have been better in your looks?” 8 out of 10 women gave the reply as “A FAIRER SKIN”. Though a reply like this is not abnormal in India (with half the alliance ads starting with a ” Wanted: Fair looking girl” tag), it made me think a lot on how this complex starts among female children…. I started looking back at my own life…
When I started with my swimming classes at the age of 8, the chlorinated water had taken a toll on m
y skin color. I had tanned a lot… With around 3-4 years in swimming, I had gone many shades down and my mom used to tell me ” you look like a fisherman’s daughter”. As a kid, I never realized the intensity of it. I would not say I was so matured enough to look beyond the ‘fairness-craze’. It was in my third or fourth standard when a new girl joined my school-she was really fair and cute and soon became the favorite student of every teacher. Everyone in the class wanted to be friends with her, including me. The fair skin did attract me. I remember my mom using the ” fruits give you glowing, FAIR skin” dialogue almost every day. I was one of the best performers in my school. One fine day I was called by my teacher (I was the class monitor) to go and call good-looking FAIR girls to give away the mementos to the Chief Guests of the Sports Day. That time I just did my duty without any thoughts, but now when I think of it, it appears highly stupid and shameful. It was just a school sports day and any child could have given away that memento!!!! If you would like to know whether the situation has changed at least now, I am sorry- it is a big NO!! I just heard my aunt tell over the phone that my KG class cousin had been denied from the Annual day dance performance considering her dark complexion ( Might sound exaggerating but its true!!)
Now, moving on from my school days to college… Being in NCC was my childhood dream and I got to fulfill it during my college days. I was in the NCC Navy for two years. After the weekly parade of around 4-5 hours in Chennai’s scorching heat, when I return home at 12 p.m., my mom’s standard dialogue was ” I don’t understand why on earth you want to do this- losing all your weight and COLOUR”. Post-camp scoldings go on for days. The same was the case with my cousin who was in the Army wing. When we asked her 2nd standard brother how she was, the reply came from the kid as “katta kare nu iruka” ( Black like hell)!!!!! A month after my Annual Training Camp was my sister’s marriage. I do not know what all my mom did to make me look FAIRER. All that I remember is enter a beauty parlor for the first time and then a pair of hands doing ‘God Knows What’ stuff to me. However, my mom was happy that the beautician had done a good job for the money spent. My next venture was for a market research project with a month of continuous roaming in sun for data collection. Now I couldn’t help controlling my laughter when I stood in front of mom and this time mom was at her best- out came her reply ” for every shade of color you lose, I have to give an extra gram of gold”!!!!!!!!! (Mom’s imagination was really great) All I could do was laugh at her innocence and the only worry she had about me right from childhood.
So… where does it all start??? At home? School? College?… To be precise- right from the time you are born. There are 3 standard things people ask/look for when a baby is born. 1. Gender 2. Whom does the baby resemble 3. How FAIR is the baby. I have seen the ‘old ladies’ of the family taking a look at the ear of the baby telling that is the shade which will be the true lasting colour of the child. So much discussion on the skin just a few hours after birth??? Not to forget, you always have your grandmom to tell you every time you meet her how fair you were (like a rose, lemon, flour blah blah) and how you have you lost it over the years. W-A-I-T How can I forget the matrimonial market when it comes to FAIR skin? This is the place where it is all destined to…. ‘Wanted: Good, FAIR looking girl’. I am a Dravidian, how on earth do you expect me to be looking fair when the trace of it died far before in my genetic anthropology? Well, I had a perception that only the dark-skinned people have an attraction to the fair skin until it was proved wrong when a Kashmiri friend of mine (probably ten shades fairer than you and me) told about the shade demands on their side. All that I could imagine for a fairer skin tone than her’s was a bucket of white paint!!!!!
Are we really gaining anything out of this craze?? As far as I can imagine, the only people benefitting from this could be the plethora of so-called FAIRNESS cream brands. Whenever I click on a video on You Tube these days, it starts with a fairness/fairness cum pimple/fairness+something advertisement (most of the times without the desperately needed ‘Skip ad’ tab). Aren’t these products capitalising on the weakness Indians have for a ‘fairer’ skin tone? Aren’t they making you feel insecure? Probably the only good thing that fairness products have done is to bring ‘Gender Inequality’- Yess, you have fairness products for men also these days!!!! According to their ads even Virat Kohli and SRK seem to have developed a huge fan base just with fairness products. Why are we behind this still? When would a change come? My dark-skinned friend at college had the best features possible. The comment she used to receive was ‘Despite being black, she has amazing features’. Why does that ‘despite black’ come in the first place?? It was ‘Black Beauty’ that brought fame to Anna Sewell and not the ‘White beauty’ that is sold in the market these days. Be proud of your skin tone- dark or fair, it is your identity. Time has come to change your views- to look beyond ‘skin-deep’ stuff. Wish for a healthy life style, physique and skin. Love yourself…. To all those running behind the so-called FAIRNESS market….. ‘ STAY UNFAIR, STAY BEAUTIFUL’.