Fair Is Beautiful ?


Last week as I was busy taking advantage of the “Independence Day Super Discount Dhamaka” at one of the most reputed chain grocery stores of the city, a high-pitched voice suddenly attracted my attention. I was not eavesdropping, actually there was no need for that as every syllable was clearly audible even from a distance. An elderly lady was arguing with another, “are you  crazy to pick this bright yellow kurti for Jhumpa? She would look horrible in this! Kalo meyer jinis kinte gele bhebe-chinte kinte hoy” (you’ve to think ten times before buying anything for a dark-complexioned girl )

As far as their outer appearance was concerned, both of them belonged to the upper crust of the society; people who claimed themselves as educated and enlightened. But does education help them to change their mindset that complexion has nothing to do with beauty? I’m afraid to say “NO “. This concept is almost genetically enrooted. We like to believe that with fair skin tone, beauty and desirability of a person (especially a girl) come naturally. Lighter complexion denotes the Hallmark Gold standard of feminine beauty. Not only beauty, it also stands for more wisdom, mental strength and social acceptance.

Do you think the above statement is an exaggeration? Well, have you watched the Fair & Lovely commercial in which a dark-skinned girl is pestered by her father to marry a well settled groom? As the girl is not fair, she fails to take any decision and, expresses her dilemma to a friend, who is fair & lovely so, obviously, is wiser. The friend advises her to use the particular fairness cream….. she uses it….gains her confidence and ripostes her father that she doesn’t want to marry now. Wow!! Wisdom, confidence, ability, all have been squeezed up into a small tube along with fairness!!  I’m loving it.

And again, not only this advertisement, but many others, in some way or another is promoting the colour discrimination. Socio-economic disparities resulting from colourism can be equally worse to that of racism if not more.

The question that haunts me is, what’s the reason for this colour bias? Why we bluntly attribute beauty with fair skin? Perhaps two hundred years of the British rule has instilled in us this unnecessary reverence for white skin. We still associate fair-skin with power, prudence and beauty. That’s why  matrimonial classifieds always have two recurring words, “fair and beautiful”, one complementing the other.

And again, not only this advertisement, but many others, in some way or another is promoting the colour discrimination. Socio-economic disparities resulting from colourism can be equally worse to that of racism if not more.

The question that haunts me is, what’s the reason for this colour bias? Why we bluntly attribute beauty with fair skin? Perhaps two hundred years of the British rule has instilled in us this unnecessary reverence for white skin. We still associate fair-skin with power, prudence and beauty. That’s why  matrimonial classifieds always have two recurring words, “fair and beautiful”, one complementing the other.

The film industry is not lagging behind too. From 70’s song “gori tera gaon bada pyara ” to 2013’s “Gori Tere Pyaar Mein”, Bollywood is head over heels with the word  gori  making the obsession of ‘white is beautiful’ stronger.

It’s time to raise the voice against colour discrimination, it’s time to understand that beauty has nothing to do with skin colour. It lies within you, it lies in the way you carry yourself, with your qualities and virtues. It’s also time that dark-skinned girls should show the chutzpah to stand and speak against this ‘colour struck’.

You can watch this short documentary by Dia Das to get a glimpse of the actual scenario and how deep-rooted this obsession is. Do share your opinion on this issue. A fair and healthy discussion is very much encouraged.

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/absolute-beauty/

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59 responses to “Fair Is Beautiful ?

  1. Yes the problem is deep rooted. I remember a instance in my childhood ..there was a discussion, well almost an argument within a family over a little girl (lets say a friend) wearing a bright red frock. Why? Because her complexion is dark.

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  5. You are right … However educated and smart people may act, the harsh truth is that Indians have an illogical reverance towards fair skin. Indians are generally the one’s who get subjected to racism in foreign countries and we don’t miss a chance to voice an opinion about it.. but the truth is that Indians are one of the most racist people. We love white skinned foreigners as much as we look down on dark skin.
    It’s so deeply embedded that people dont even realise when they talk racist. North indians don’t even miss a chance to mock south indians for their brown hue. Wish something could have been done for it !!

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  6. You are right … However educated and smart people may act, the harsh truth is that Indians have an illogical reverance towards fair skin. Indians are generally the one’s who get subjected to racism in foreign countries and we don’t miss a chance to voice an opinion about it.. but the truth is that Indians are one of the most racist people. We love white skinned foreigners as much as we look down on dark skin.
    It’s so deeply embedded that people dont even realise when they talk racist. North indians don’t even miss a chance to mock south indians for their brown hue. Wish something could have been done for it !!

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  7. Sometimes , well actually at most times, I’m disgusted by the things we believe and propagate…Why this discrimination based on colour? Ever guy and every guy’s parents wants a fair bride ..What sort of criteria is that? And why? The boy can be a gorilla for crying out loud but he too harps on the fair tune..you know what maybe comparing such people to gorillas is an insult to the animal as well.! Sigh!

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  8. I wish we could get out of this mentality..

    I mean what is fair .. what is beautiful how do we know.. how are we sure that being fairer was beautiful .. or are we wrong that by trying to change our colour we are actually trying to change what GOD made beautiful

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  9. Fair is not beautiful. Beauty does not lie in color; it is found in the inner self, in the heart. I really hate how some brands promote their products. Especially the fair and lovely ads. Gosh! The cream supposedly allows girls to chase their dreams by transforming into a fairer tone. It is bullshit.

    I feel no one should be concerned about their skin color. One is loved due to his/her acts not the skin tone. The one who values skin color more than the inner goodness is definitely not worth thinking for.

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  10. these biases and notions about skin color are deeep deeeeep rooted in our society.. they have become a part of our mentality .. fom the matrimonial ads (fair skin slim bride) to school college days .. fairness creams are always there to remind us bout What is “Fair and Lovely” and What is ” Dull and Gloomy”.

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  11. Amazing ..at east someone is brave enough to advocate dull complexion …. cosmetic market is growing by taking advantage of this sick mentality of ours…Thinking doesn’t change with complexion…
    And the people are visioned enough to compare complexion but blind enough to see injustice

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  12. Nice article. I agree with you. Can you believe my 6 year old daughter was standing in front of mirror and saying to herself that she needs to do something about her complexion. This color bias has assumed a problem of gigantic proportion.

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  13. Rightly said.. I had a dark complexioned neighbor and she cribbed about it all her life.. I tried to put some sense in to her head but nothing worked.. I find dark complexioned women extremely sexy 🙂 I think beauty is in the eyes of the person but our good for nothing society just needs some points to discriminate like caste, colour, religion etc etc.. God knows when the time will change and when the mind set will change..

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  14. Its a very painful feeling to know that the same thought exists even in the higher echelons of the society as well. It is as though people are not ready to move on from the colonial hangover and beauty is highly misrepresented and infact portrayed even worse, esp by the advertising industries which prey highly on these insecure people who make a lot more insecure!

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  15. Agree every bit of it Mani, just to add that the fair is beautiful has been extended to men as well isnt it? The fair and handsome ads with SRK as brand ambassador and going to bollywood, gore gore o bake chhore! But I like our mythology where most handsome Gods be it Shivji or Shree Krishna both are Shyam! Very nice article.

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    • Thanks Shweta, you’re right …. boys also want to become ‘gore gore bnake chhore’ 😀 …though the hype is accentuated on their female counterparts….

      Along with Shivji and Shri Krishna, I remember Draupadi…she was also dark skinned…that’s why her another name was Krishna… 🙂

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  16. Very nicely written. Though it’s not only India we see this happening, the other parts of the world are not as affected as our country.

    Thanks for sharing.

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  17. yes it is outcome of the inferiority complex that we acquired during British rule. Marrying a European or american girl, what ever be her background, is an ultimate achievement for any boy from subcontinent,

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  18. You said it right Maniparna, the society and its mindset has not at all changed, it still looks for a fairer girl for their son, no matter how bad she is from inside. That fairer girl can break the families within one year of their marriage, but still we are crazy about fair skin. Don’t know when this mindset will change.

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  19. I would say that we keep attributing black to evil and therefore Fair and Lovely successfully makes the attempt to keep us racists 😀
    Most of those people who have invaded India had fair skin, I guess.

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  20. Maniparna, this is just bang on target dear 😀 Amazing
    Even I feel grrrrrrr with these obnoxious standards & dictated set of myths, have you seen wonderful video of Oprah on beauty myth, I also shared it on my post – Do I look Fat? Even what all with the nuances of songs or titles or advertisements, it’s transcends these limits now.
    “Beauty is/not skin deep”? (optional choice)

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