July 20, 2009

Fair play

India is one of those countries with an obsession for "fair" skin... From matrimonial ads to face creams, the emphasis is on "fair" skin. For some weird reason, everyone wants to be "fair" or so the beauty markets assume. Which explains the large variety of fairness creams for sale in the market. If it's not enough that this vanity was associated just with the women in the past, these days it has extended to the men as well. I just saw an ad for Nivea men's fairness cream endorsed by the likes of Dhoni... and fortuitously, right after that I read this article on BBC, where Ms Authentica is crowned based on her natural skin and all contestants are verified by the organizers to have untreated and natural skin. Immediately, I wished that this concept took off in India too... we have a large spectrum of people occupying all the shades of colour possible and we have to be proud of what we're born with. Trying to change what is naturally ours, to blend in with what the world's view is, is not the solution to anything. Not in terms of skin colour, and not in terms of personality, not for anything. Instead, the world would be a better place if we embraced what was ours and made the most of it. Unfortunately in India, people are made to believe that having fairer skin is superior. Period. It's the age-old race war... where white trumps black. It's as simple as that. I applaud stars like Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan who have made conscious efforts not to endorse any of these "fairness" creams in an effort to globalize all skin tones and colours. And the fairness cream ads totally piss me off too - have you noticed how they show the quality of skin to dramatically improve as well when someone uses their product? And what's with the doors opening for their careers with "white" skin? It's all such BS and what's worse - people buy into it. I mean there are people with glowing skin with whatever colour. We don't have to go far to prove that dusky beauty is very real - look at Nanditha Das or Bipasha Basu for instance. And to think that we've transcended into the modern era... where one would've thought it was relatively easy to be who you are and get what you want with your charm/persona and not having to rely on something as fickle as fair skin. Embrace yourself.. that's what makes you glow from within... not any of these beauty propagandas or the likes of it. The rest of it is not fair.

11 comments:

Seshadri said...

I read somewhere that we associate dark skin with hard labor and toiling under the sun, and lighter skin with more intellectual work. Intelligence is more preferred for evolutionary reasons. I don't intend to say fair skin means superiority. I say that most of us think that way- we shield ourselves from the Sun, we cleanse, we worry about becoming dark and preserve our complexion even if it's "wheatish". It's especially true of indians who neither are pitch dark as africans are, nor fairskinned as the whites are.

About fairness creams, why is there something wrong with them? Why should subliminal advertising be considered unethical/not PC/biased or racist? Those ads spring more from people's choices; the ads by themselves are not the seminal idea that fair skin is superior. They cater to our evolutionary tastes.

seshadri said...

and adding more - it is now accepted that all of human race originated in Africa. that debunks the myths of racism. on the other hand, look at this. Most of the developed world is white (we will not go into the whys of it, and at whose cost- that will redirect us to the whole toiling under the sun thing and us sucking up to the white man). Africa and India, by contrast are rife with poverty, hygiene and health issues and corruption. It is natural that someone would want to associate themselves, unwittingly though, with what is generally a superior society.

Reminds me of an earlier discussion in your blog (the preferential treatment for certain passport holders) you go by the credo that all man is created equal. I don't doubt that- however, reality is that our circumstances don't allow for such idealism. Reality also doesn't allow for us to dwell on the past, the injustices and lies, and pointing fingers at the superior society for our present circumstances. What is more practical is, doing what we do best- live a life and sensitize ourselves to the plight of the disadvantaged, and being smarter and seeing through the plots of the western world which wants to sustain the discrimination. On another day, I will tell you how the western world sustains the discrimination.

Phew- I can almost see you pointing at yourself saying "idhu theviya onaku, thevaiyaa??" I started writing and adhu paatuku vandhunde irundhudhu and thought of striking up a conversation here... the floor is open to all.. to let me know I am flawed or add on to what I feel

Jaya said...

Sesh -> First up, thanks for the very lengthy set of comments. But here's what I am saying - there's nothing wrong in "preserving" your complexion as you have pointed out. of course the Indian sun plays havoc with our original colour and we end up tanned and much darker than we actually are.. and hence all the bleacing solutions and all... I am actually talking abour people who wanna go a step further and become even "fairer" to attract whoever for whatever reasons. On the discrimination thing, it's sort of a different topic but well interlaced on this one as well if you viewed your colour to appeal to a section of the discriminating audience. but here is the thing... even if you were "fair" by Indian standards, people disciminating against you are going to continue doing it because unless you are albino, you are not going to be "Caucasian fair". But that leads to a totally different stream of thought; Thank you for expressing your opinions so lucidly. It does open up interesting discussions which is the point of the blog in any case.

Deepak said...

Great post. The irony is when we all leave India, doesn't matter how dark or light skinned we are, we all Brown!

Jaya said...

Deepak -> Thanks a lot. It's true.. we are all brown. Bah, who cares?

GreenGrl said...

I couldn't agree more..I believe an even tone skin is the most beautiful one. Have you noticed how the curls, the complexion and the colors of the clothing really catch your eye...!

Jaya said...

Well said Thakore!

Ram uncle said...

Beauty has thousand definitions, at least that is what I understand. So a mere fairskin/white does not mean much. Perhaps it may lend some support to an existing beauty.

Jaya said...

ram uncle -> Agreed. Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder is a very apt proverb at this stage. But what's beautiful has been twisted over the ages to fit someone's vision of perfection. I hope that this changes soon. Thanks for the comment n please keep visiting!

anusha said...

I love the way you have written. I totally agree! And you know what's the worst part? These ads are seen by little 12 and 13 year olds and losing their self -esteem. They assume their colors as a major drawback for their life and start brooding over the same. Personally I have seen very young girls feeling depressed about their skin color and their moms buying all beauty treatments for their girls to make them "whiter"...!! totally atrocious!! I really wonder when we started being so superficial!

Jaya said...

Anusha -> Thanks!! and it's despicable that children are encouraged to think that their 'colour' isn't what is accepted universally. Glad you agree... and thanks for commenting n visiting! Please do come back!

Post a Comment