Tuesday, October 1, 2013

In All Fairness...

These days’ fairness skin products are so rampant in our markets that it is impossible to find a lotion that does not make you fair. Name the part of the body you wished was fairer, and BAM! You have a lotion that will exclusively take care of that. Our society accepts only fair skin as a symbol of beauty and even success, so you better make it fast!

Click on some Indian matrimonial websites and you can find atrocious ads for doctors and CA’s looking for ‘fair girls’. Basically such ads give away the message that if you are a female and have no education, or a brain or you have a loud temperament, or a criminal record, or your brother is Ajmal Kasab, or your mother is a suicide bomber, or your father is Bunty Chor that is completely acceptable as long as you have fair skin. Fair skin sells faster than fairness creams.

Naomi Campbell. Whenever one says something about her, the specification that she is black is one that is inevitable. “DESPITE being that”, she went on to become a supermodel. However when we talk about Anne Hathaway or Kate Winslet, do we explicitly specify that they are white? No. Because black skin is like a birth defect. Whenever they talk about Nandita Das, Bipasha Basu, Konkona Sen Sharma, it is specified unambiguously that DESPITE their birth defect, the dusky skin, they are STILL successful. This does not apply to other ladies, as they were successful deservedly. Well, can we not mention it and omit these STILL’s and DESPITE’s? Does not show business also belong to them by their own right?  

If you are a Malayali, you will know the reality show called ‘Midukki’ on channel Mazhavil Manorama. One of the contestants who made it to the last stage was widely criticized for her complexion. If you open her facebook page you can see people who’ve made comments like ‘Hey, I like you even though you are dark’ and so on and so forth. Nobody can stop themselves from making a comment on her complexion. People, there are other things she is famous for – she is smart, petite, creative and immensely confident on the ramp. But all we can see is her complexion and sympathize with that. When will we ever grow up? Or will we? Or do we derive some sort of pleasure from making comments like this? C’mon, this girl is proud of her complexion, ya!

Most of us Indians are often busy criticizing our own daughters and relatives and nieces and nephews on their looks and complexion by belittling them in some way or the other. In one of the interviews, Tamil actor Dhanush said how a movie critic insulted him about his complexion in the first paragraph of the latter’s review of his Bollywood debut ‘Ranjhanaa’. Dhanush also said that he had grown up fighting these comments and had taken them in his stride. This is undoubtedly the secret of his success.

Recently, an extremely fame deprived Hollywood newbie, whose name I don’t remember (or not worth remembering) called the Obamas ‘dark and ugly people’. This could have been a publicity exercise for her, but seriously if I were Michelle Obama I would have sent her to Mars. It teaches us an important lesson - even the Obamas are not spared. This, therefore, relieves the pain of millions of dark skinned people who are insulted every minute by National television channels that air fairness cream ads and promote the blasphemy that success and happiness comes only with fair skin.

Right now when I am writing this, scores of angry Americans are on their boiling points, indulging in cyber harassment over crowning Nina Davuluri of Indian descent as Miss
Nina Davuluri
America. And I saw a lot of comments linking her to 9/11. This again is a question of the skin. And we all know what happened to Oprah Winfrey at Switzerland.

These are racism incidents caught on camera and sensationalized by the media.

 Once I was at a birthday party, sitting in one corner and minding my business when a colleague’s wife came up to me and said:

 ‘Hi Anita, I met your sister when I was at Chennai”

Me: “Oh ya she told me...”

“She looks exactly like you”..

Me: Smile.

“But she is fairer than you are (with a thank God kind of expression)”

That landed on my face like a dead lizard. I mean, what am I supposed to do about that? Do I or should I care if my sister was fairer? Some women have complete darkness in their heads. 

I was not shaken by that comment. Because, I know that even the Obamas are not spared.
These attitudes will not change, as long as movies and other media continue to showcase it as it is now.  It will continue to haunt young and adolescent minds and deprive them of believing in their self-worth. The change can come. It starts from home.


Dark is beautiful. 

P.S: This article was published in the popular emagazine Tamarind Rice, and you can view it here :http://tamarindrice.in/tamarind-rice-september-13/
It came as a huge surprise, I was not expecting my article to show up in Tamarind Rice, seriously ! 

If you like it, you can vote for it here: http://tamarindrice.in/vote-win ( I already did, well, obviously ;-) )

34 comments:

  1. Good One Anita ! Voted as well :-)
    I really love reading your blog

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  2. Congrats on featuring in Tamarind Rice.

    This article truly deserved to be up there :)

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  3. Hheheeh..I know the show you are talking about...Hell I YAM AE MALAYALEEEEE!!
    Why talk about the people in general,..talk about our family..I am fair and yet my mother forces me with skin fairness face masks!! Obsessed. I do believe dusky is supremely hot!!!!

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    1. Me too ! Although during my teenage years I felt the need to become fairer, but soon after I though WTH I am going to stay like this forever and I like it !

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  4. Nice article ,Anita."some women have complete darkness in their heads".-very true.

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  5. This, and the entire volley of support and abuses over Nina's being black reminds me of a certain episode from Russell Peters. White folks are less racists than we are, though a little unrelated, but you'll get the point. :)

    Here

    So, don't care if you are black or white, I have conflicting thoughts about my viewpoint on this, but I am coping well and I am quite satisfied with the conclusions I have in my head. I'm just practising them till they are in my blood :)

    Cheers,
    Blasphemous Aesthete

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    1. Yes. Everyone has their own opinion and preferences, and I am very happy being dusky. But seems others are not.

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  6. Probably India is most racist nation that way.

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  7. I never really understood the whole dark and fair issue.. I get that maybe for first impressions, people may look at skin colour but especially when it comes to things like love or marriage, should not a good personality matter more? The USA beauty pageant thing sounded so idiotic and racist... the people making these comments did not even know where India was, thinking it is an Arab country!

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    1. If some American was chosen to be Miss India we would have reacted in worse ways than this. What was appalling is the ignorance of people in general. I mean what is the connection between an Indian and Al Qaeda and Arab and 9/11 ? Really the general knowlege is poor and very very shameful. I think even though us Indians are racist, we are better in terms of basic geography.

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  8. All girls are beautiful, not matter what colour of skin they have:) differences just make the world more beautiful. it would be boring if everything looked in the same way... racist are everywhere and that's sad, cause there are not better and worse people, fairer skin does not make anybody better

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    1. Exactly. Skin color and such attributes are something we are born with and have no control over. So it is meaningless, absurd and rude to comment on anybody's appearance.

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  9. Wow! Sitting here as an almost old guy (that’s just me staying positive) and only hearing that I’m such a handsome devil once in my life – yeah it was my Aunt that said that :-( . I have never had to live under prejudice at least from skin color; your post stopped me and made me reflect on how horrible, small, shortsighted people can be. Then I thought about the rampant self tanning lotions I have seen purchased (I can’t say by who because I promised my wife to not write about her) :-O . I think I’m in trouble. You did good…Keep at it. The Bible says, “For lack of knowledge the people perished” Putting forth truth has to make a difference. I’m proud of you!

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    1. Thanks...a lottt Grayquill. It is true that you said people are 'horrible, small and shortsighted'. One needs to get proper exposure to the world to think bigger and wider. It is narrow and dark minds that work within the four walls of their living rooms that make such comments. However until this lady told me this, I was of the opinion that educated people do not say such things, such comments usually come from the oldies.. but well, it is not so.

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  10. Anita, those are exactly my thoughts. I mean, if Nina Davuluri was up for Miss. India pageant she surely wouldn't have won. Did you notice how when Priyanka Chopra, Rani Mukerjee etc entered Bollywood, were completely on a darker side and they are all brushed white now. Even if they are not naturally, they are photo-shopped that way. Darker girls are only playing non-commercial roles in art movies. (they still are my favorite though)
    This comes from a generation where fair creams are on high demand on one side of the word while people on the other side of the world are going completely bananas over tan sprays! People!

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    1. Yes. It is about accepting oneself. During my childhood I used to be affected badly by such comments. But soon later, I started loving myself. I do not have any dearth of loving , awesome people around me. I think, as long as I am not a supermodel or an actress I should not worry much about matters of the skin.

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  11. I hear it all the time...in my younger yrs most ppl used to tell my sis & I tht we didnt get our mother's fair complexion;-/. I don't thk the girl who told u tht meant to be rude...it is so ingrained in our mindset, this fair business AND this automatic urge to compare;-(.

    Very nice post Anita and congrats on being featured in TR:-))

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    1. You are right Nancy. May be she dint mean to be rude, but it also did not sound like she was joking. Anyway. I am over it , and I love the way I look ! I cannot come to terms with our generation making comments like this. I can however take comments from the ammachis back in Kerala lightly, considering they are ignorant and uneducated.

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  12. Am a Malayali too! I know what you are talking about Anita. I think the world is very obsessed with skin color.. At this stage, the best we can do is to ignore the comments and move on.. Cant help it.. And the thing is, perception and people judging also happens based on the color type..

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    1. Yeah. The bitter fact we dont want to believe is true.

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  13. Hi Anita, this is a lovely article. Personally I think that dark skinned girls are beautiful. I think Chitrangada Singh is one of the prettiest and most elegant ladies ever. The problem with us humans in general, is that we don't stop to think about things that our fed into our brains since a very early age. I can tell you that living in Pakistan, we are told from a very early age that all Indians are bad people , its in our textbooks, on the local media, and even adults promote this thinking. But its wrong !! and very very few people stop to think that what they're being told might be wrong. Same goes for white-skin. it's being promoted on t.v, and in households from a very early age, I hope that we learn to use our brains more often and appreciate the good things in life. PS I think your beautiful !!! -------- love from Pakistan

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    1. Thanks Hafza ! Yes, such ideas and nonsense are things we learn from our elders from a very young age,. I suppose the change should start from home and our society so hat atleast the generation next will grow up level headed :-)

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  14. The fixation of "fair girl" is deep rooted in the psyche of Indians, and surprisingly its the mothers and mother in laws who are all for it.

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    1. Oh forgot to mention..... voted too :-)

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    2. Correct, Haddock ! Mothers want their daughters to be fair, and mother in laws want their sons to marry fair girls..! The world is all for fair skin ;-(

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    3. I didnt knw abt the voting.......Thx goodness I saw this comment.....and double thank goodness i was able to vote before the end date. Best wishes:-)).

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    4. Thanks a lotttt Nancy ! Means a lootttt :D

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