“You have nice features despite being dark!” is the most common line which me and many Indian girls hear on a day to day basis. At times people also comment behind our back, “Poor thing, she is so dark!” Makes me wonder if we are supposed to feel proud or be ashamed of all those characteristics which we received as bonus when we were born.
Then again, consider, one girl among us is famous in the public domain especially in Bollywood, maximum of the news/articles/gossips starts with her skin color. Even the best of the journos can’t complete the piece without using the adjectives ‘dusky’ or ‘earthy’.
While many of us have grown in a surrounding where such topics might not be a part of the homely conversation, there are millions out there who are/were taunted, rejected and humiliated throughout, at times making them believe that they were “simply not good enough”.
The color based discrimination is not just prevalent in villages and towns but also in cities. Worst is the case when a teacher in the Annual Dance Competition picks up a girl of average skill but lighter tone and rejects other girl simply because of her prejudices. Even if such teachers select, they make them stand in the back row. While, many of you might raise your eyebrows over this, I’m sure, there are many who have actually faced it.
Mind you, I’m not even starting the vast topic on how girls are rejected every minute for matrimonial alliances only because of their color. And those remarks, “Though she is dark, she is a nice girl…” Argh!
Film actress Nandita Das is often asked by many young girls facing such discrimination , “How can you be so confident in spite of being dark?” Can you blame them? Not really! Right from their childhood they have been watching Television commercials, films and reading stories as well as magazines which time and again reminded them how ugly they are. No wonder, they attained an inferiority complex which made them nervous, reluctant and repressed.
Then again, these girls have been watching their contemporaries in Bollywood who have been getting fairer with every trailer of their films and/or every advertisement they endorse. There are not one by many! To be honest, somewhere down even they were victimized, after all ‘Being Fair (I’m using fair and not light skinned because that’s the terminology we Indians use)’ is a proviso for an Indian actress.
Of course there are actresses like Kangana Ranuat who rejected an offer of Rs. 2 crore for endorsing a fairness brand in November, 2013 (this was before her movie Queen released).
“Ever since I was a kid, I have never understood the concept of fairness. Especially, in such a case, as a celebrity, what kind of an example would I be setting for younger people? I have no regrets about turning this offer down. As a public figure, I have responsibilities,” said Kangana. “My sister (Rangoli Ranaut) is dusky, yet beautiful. If I go ahead and be part of this campaign, then, in a way, I would be insulting her. If I can’t do that to my sister, then how can I do it to the entire nation?”, she added further.
Ever since I was a little girl, I often wondered why can’t the fairness products endorse their brand in a way that everyone loves the color of the skin they are in, instead of making them feel bad about it? But, it seems the day is very close with the “Dark Is Beautiful” campaign along with the change in guidelines for fairness products ads by ASCI – Advertising Standards Council of India.
Still, it won’t be possible until we not just value women for their appearance, but for what they are. The attitude of the society has to be changed and for that, each one of us has to become an ambassador to stop the age old color discrimination.
After all, If Fair is Lovely, Dark Is Beautiful!
By: Deepti Verma
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