All is not fair in this war

In India, all women go through the fair trial and I don’t mean it in the positive way at all! It’s more in the realm of trial and error where women (and ahem! now even some men) go to any lengths to become fair or whiter to be precise. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.

Well, you can’t really blame them. The raging war between the dark skinned versus the fair maidens has been a never-ending one. Even in our mythology, physical attributes like colour determined the nature of a person or the clan he belonged to. Anybody who was fair and good looking, were considered good natured and termed as Devas while the dark people were considered as bad natured or the ugly Asuras. It is therefore no surprise that people in this country are vying to get fairer because at a subconscious level this belief is ingrained in our minds. Being white or fair equates to being beautiful in our country.

In fact, my mother who has a beautiful rosy complexion went through her bit of admonishing from her father as a kid because she wasn’t Snow-White fair like her mom. The vicious circle continued with me because I was six shades darker than her which meant that my future was a dark hole. I remember when I was younger I was a complete tomboy who played like there was no tomorrow under the sun and the result, I got darker. My mother thought I was committing sacrilege and was afraid at some level that I might be subjected the same agony she did as a kid. She literally forced me to drink four glasses of super fattening buffalo milk every single day with oodles of saffron and dry fruits and even stopped my playing out in the sun. Hoping, I would get a few shades lighter and veer away from the nasty comments that my rebuking relatives had in store for me. The result, my skin tone didn’t change a bit and I only got fatter. Initially, I cared hoots about it however at a subconscious level the belief started setting in and started damaging my confidence and self-esteem. I thought I was ugly because I was dark and did not measure upto the beauty parameters of the so called Indian society. As a result, my studies started getting affected and eventually my mind was set in a hidden agenda of getting fair and lovely. At 16 years, I coaxed my mom to buy fairness creams and bleached my face constantly only to suffer from dry and older looking skin. The more I looked at advertisements, actresses and newspapers that propagated the biased theory, the more depressed I got which went on till my college years.

Eventually as time passed by and I started working, I got comfortable with my own skin and started accepting myself wholeheartedly. I started loving my flawless, sun-kissed beautiful complexion. But then I realised there was more to me than my looks and the vanity of it. I had several talents which I never explored seriously because I was too busy with my superficial pursuits. A chance reading of Nandita Das’s article in TOI about her online campaign, “Stay unfair, you are beautiful,” got me all up and about this cause because I could relate to it at so many levels. The beautiful actor hates being anchored to her dusky skin tone or being introduced as the dark, dusky woman in various articles. After all, do fair actors have their colour tagged to their identity is her valid question? And the answer is a big NO.

Hence, women who are suffering from ‘I am a dark coloured woman and therefore I’m ugly syndrome’ take some cues from the actor and embrace your beautiful colour. Your skin colour does not determine the person you are and if you don’t, you will be treading the self destructive path. What you won’t realise is that your identity will always be perceived with the perception that you have of yourself. If you harbour a negative image about yourself, that is what you will portray and what people will recognize. Instead, let your personality or your deeds speak for you and it will, in volumes.

Long time back, I remember Oprah Winfrey had interviewed Aishwarya Rai about the obsession of being fair and fairness creams in India. Though not many are aware of it, Aishwarya Rai who belongs to the fair brigade of actors voiced her opinion that as a rule she never endorses them because it defies her principles of humanity. And it is inhumane to define a person with the colour of their skin. In fact, it is almost demeaning. What’s even sadder is that even though the Bipashas and Naomi Campells of the world have tried to change the concept of what is attractive, people still stick to the norms of wanting fair brides in matrimonial ads.

Therefore, it is very important that we take a stand on this prejudiced issues and the only way to put a stop to this age-old mentality is wage a war against these so called fairness creams and undergoing steep cosmetic experiments.

Most importantly, open your eyes and see that the skin you’re in has always been and will always be, beautiful enough. I know I did and have never been happier.