A girl is not able to get through an interview and she started using “this” cream, and skadoosh, not only she gets the job, she is now able to a make a mountain of money, everyone at her office praising her, all eligible suitors are approaching her…!!! One word to describe such ads ‘NONSENSE’…!!! With billboards and sky-high hoardings, advertising famous brands of fairness creams, and assuring people fairness in just 7 days, are one of the factors fuelling the desperation of dark-skinned people and making them more insecure of who they are.
‘Kaale se dar gayi’ this was phrase once used by Legendary Mehmood Saab in a film where he is trying to seduce a gorgeous and pretty fair woman to fall for him.
You see, from our childhood we all are brought into certain binaries like Blue vs pink, Green vs Saffron, Dolls vs Cars and so on but Black vs white or fair skin vs Dark skin is one such divergence that is sadly rooted much deeper in the society.
We all know that India is home to vast diversities; with every 100 km, we meet people, with different languages, cultural backgrounds, facial features, skin tones etc. For example, north Indians have fair skin tone while people in the northeast have yellow tinted skin with smaller eyes and people residing in the south have a relatively darker complexion.
Prejudices and biases against darker skin tones were not always prevalent in India and we don’t have to go anywhere else to exemplify it too. Kali, the Hindu Goddess, carries darker skin tone and is the symbol of sexuality, motherly love, violence, and Shakti (Power). Similarly, Lord Krishna, whose name means ‘Black’ in Sanskrit, was a dark – complexioned God, who gave the Gita, which is still an inspiration to billions, he was not only the centerpiece of the Mahabharata, he is known for his extreme intellect and cunning.
King of Ayodhya, Lord Ram, also known as Maryada Purushottam Ram which means the best among men, was also dark complexioned. Lord Ram and Lord Krishna were considered to be the incarnations of Lord Vishnu, The Preserver, who was also black in color. Draupadi, the strong-headed woman and the lead protagonist in Mahabharata, is described as a dark-skinned and extremely beautiful woman. These examples should be enough to get a better understanding that dark complexioned people were not always deprecated by the Indian society.
The land we call India, which was earlier known as Bharat-varsh was filled with the brilliance of knowledge, science, spirituality and wealth. It was magic. But then external forces came, conquered and worked to their best to destroy its sanctity. First the Mughals then the British. Neither of them understood the land and the people and only tried to impose their own culture, religion, and values over the people.
By the time British finally left the country after looting it till its last drop, just like any other oppressor and tyrant, there was widespread chaos, poverty, hunger, disease and under their policy of divide and rule, they did their best to divide people by leaving social differences and prejudices among people here. And this discrimination towards dark-skin is one such outcome of putting almost 4 generations through the same incapacitated system of education and a society that takes pride in being deprived of social values.
British believed that upper castes were not involved in tedious outdoor work and stayed indoors, thus having light skin. On the other hand, low cast people were involved in menial jobs and were always exposed to the sun, thus having dark skin. As Casteism was too prevalent in the country, it fuelled the concept of Colorism. Because of Colorism, low caste dark-skinned people faced immense aversion by the hands of British officials, giving upper caste fair-skinned people the priority in terms of providing jobs and positions of authority. As a result, the dark complexioned people faced prejudices and bias on all the platforms.
Apparently, Indians are ignorant about discrimination in terms of the skin color of a person, as we have more important issues than ‘Colorism’. So what is Colorism? The term Colorism was coined by Alice Walker in 1982, which means prejudice or discrimination against individuals with dark skin tones and one should not confuse it with Racism.
And how do we deal with Colorism? The fairness cream companies have the answer! Use their cream and you can also get that bright fair skin within a week and sometimes within the day. So go ahead spend your money in trying to destroy your perfect dark and beautiful natural skin with the chemicals of these creams. And we are not even kidding. Consumption of fairness creams and skin bleaching creams are so common and accessible these days, even kids are using it to look good.
The very famous skin bleaching agent, Hydroquinone, is found in every fairness cream selling out there. But why is it famous, because it gives that wanted fairness in less time comparing to other so-called fairness brands. But, my friends, has any fairness cream ever told you about its extremely harmful side- effects? A prolonged use of Hydroquinone could lead to skin cancer, the otherwise short-term occurrence of blisters, severely dry skin, irritated skin and hypersensitivity of skin are common and assured side effects of this chemical.
There are some other natural skin bleaching agents like Kojic acid and Glutathione but their use is not questioned as they derived naturally from plants. But they take time and who has the time? I need to get fair NOW! The sales-graph of the market for such creams is increasing day by day and the question remains the same, why are we so intolerant towards dark skin tone? Why do we have to make these desperate and constant efforts to whitewash our skin? Is it so important to get accepted into the society?
Being a fair skinned 24-year-old girl I too was refrained from many things that I liked to do like I played basketball for 3 years in school but tanned skin made my mom furious and hence quitting the game. I was made to carry an umbrella, covering my face with scarf or pashmina and camouflage my skin with sunscreen. I never understood why being a fair skinned girl was so important that I had to give up a part of my childhood?
Currently, our society faces an extreme predicament, as the people define beauty in terms of fairness. The fairer the person, the more beautiful he/she will be. Even the children are being taught Colorism in the form of fairy tales where the writers feature light-skinned princesses or princes. Disney featured its first dark princess in 2009 and even till date there are hardly any well-known princesses who are not-sparkling white.
And things get worse as we grow up. Indian men and women want their matrimonial partner to be fair. Both men and women are slapping their faces with fairness creams, like Fair and Lovely, and Fair and Handsome hoping to get a fair and lovely/handsome partner.
And to this Bollywood has contributed with both hands and an open heart. The hypocrisy of Bollywood shines brightly as they feature dark complexioned actor/actress on elite magazines and Photoshop them to light skin tones and then tag them as “dark is in”, eventually back to the conventional traits of ideal fair skinned Hero or Heroine. We are becoming nothing but fairness and fairness creams Baptists.
After all this the questions that are written bright on the horizon that we keep ignoring remains! What kind of perspective is this? Why are the Dark skin tones considered ugly in our country? Why are we imbibed with a constant thrust of becoming one or two shades lighter? Why do we lather ourselves with fairness creams and layers of yellow paste and more yellow paste?
When will we start embracing our true selves be it wheatish or black?
Like cigarettes may be the fairness creams should have the following statutory warning: Beware, use of this cream will add to your insecurities. You may get accepted in society but you will lose a lot of self-worth and self-respect.
It’s time for people to accept themselves the way they are and stop cloaking themselves beneath white skin. Instead of looking for fair better halves, we should look for someone who treats people fairly. It’s high time that we stop being Unfair to UnFair.