We make up a nation of people obsessed with fairness. In 2012, reportedly 233 tonnes of skin-lightening products were bought in India. And the number seems to be on the rise. Being fair is equated to being beautiful. We all do it, even if we do it unknowingly.
We do it as parents, when we comment on how dark someone is in front of our kids. We do it when we tell little kids they’re becoming darker, and laugh at the horrified face they make. They learn from us. We do it as friends when we tell each other how much we’ve tanned, and start spilling out a list of easy home remedies for skin-lightening. We do it when we compliment people on how fair they look. We do it when we make faces at dark skinned people wearing a shade that doesn’t complement their skin tone. We do it when we ask our sons to find a fair-skinned wife. We do it when we don’t shame advertisements that tell us we can only get a good job, or get married if we’re fair. We do it every day.
This is 2015. We have made progress in a lot of fields, this not being one of them. Not long ago, only girls used to bear the brunt of this uncanny obsession. But now, we have gender equality at its best, with the earlier ‘tall dark and handsome’ image being overshadowed by lightening creams for men. And we have ‘progressed’ towards a time when being called dusky, is seen as an insult.
I’m going to modify one of my favorite quotes by J.K. Rowling, because it is just as apt here.
“Is ‘dark’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘dark’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’ or ‘cruel’? Not to me.”
If you’re reading this post, stop telling your kids how fair someone is. Stop putting up matrimonial advertisements looking for a ‘fair’ bride. Stop responding to such advertisements.
If you’re reading this post, stop discussing how dark-skinned someone is. Stop saying how you dream of getting married to a ‘fair, good-looking guy’. Stop telling your friends what they can use to get a fairer skin. Tell them they don’t need to.
If you’re out there, reading this post, just know that you are beautiful. It doesn’t matter if you’re white, brown, black, or even blue (how can I leave out Smurfette?); You are PERFECT, and never let anyone tell you otherwise. Your skin color is not indicative of how smart, kind, generous and pretty you are. Don’t be blinded by silly advertisements. Don’t ever feel you’re not beautiful enough, because you are. You are more than enough. You don’t need a product to look pretty. Wear your confidence. Wear a smile. Be comfortable in your own skin.