It’s since childhood that I have been seeing creams (which people buy like mad) that makes girls fair so that it leads to loveliness (Hello “Fair and Lovely”!). Because obviously, for Indians, dark skin is not lovely.
I was once called “wheatish” by a professor in college. That was the first time I had heard that adjective for myself. I thought fair and dark were the terms for skin tones. Now there was wheatish. I was seen by my darker friends with some palpable envy. And I saw some smirk on the faces of the fairer girls. So there I was, somewhere in the middle of the newly discovered beauty scales. I also remember how angry/ hurt/insulted I felt for not being considered fair by the professor. Even though I did not place importance to fairness, but now I realized I subconsciously did.
My dearest friend used to say, as a small wide eyed girl, when we were in fourth standard, that I was so beautiful, and by beautiful she meant that I was fairer than her. She told me how her mother used to apply “ubtan”, which is a homemade turmeric pack or something, to clear her skin. I had innocently asked her, “Your skin is already so clean, why clean it more”?”
By that time I had not realised that fairness is seen as pure and darker skins are meant to be cleaned, made to glow.
Thanks to “Black Lives Matter” movement, light has been shown to the discrimination girls face simply for their skin tones. Here in India too. But still the creams are being sold. Not as “Fair and Lovely” which is explicitly rude and demeaning to Indian women, but as “Glow and Lovely”.
And it is still demeaning. Why can’t we live as our normal selves, why do I need to be Fair/Glowing to feel confident. Or for me to become an air hostess, a model, an actress and even a news anchor? And primarily to be married?
All our self-worth is accumulated on our looks. If a girl by chance is fair, then we start scrutinizing her figure, and start fat shaming or preaching her to clean her body hair, or start smiling more. (For example, I am so criticized for my acne filled skin and for cutting my hair short, and of course for my fat!)
Basically Indian society is stuck on the narrative of girls existing only for pleasing other people’s eyes. Not as individuals, with a mind and sense of humor but with a sense of inferiority about looks.
I look up to Deepika Padukone, Mayawati, Phoolan Devi, Nandita Das, Konkona Sensharma, Smita Patil, Beyonce, Maya Angelo, Michelle Obama, P V Sindhu. These are tremendous forces of nature known by their work, not their skin tones. //It describes them, but does not define them.//
Let’s celebrate our bodies, skins and education and fitness.
Girls, we cannot expect society to change overnight nor the boys to start loving us as dark and fat.
It is on US GIRLS to start appreciating ourselves and our sisters irrespective of looks. And start loving our skin without the use of fairness and skin brightening creams.
“Your skin is not only brown It shines and it tells your story” ~ Beyonce
Edit: thanks @mirakee for my first POD. Will remain forever special. @writersnetwork thanks for a seventh repost. Means a lot. Gratitude and love. Thanks so much @writersbay for a ninth repost. It is indeed really valuable.