My uncle’s wife applies tamarind powder to the face of her two year old daughter every day. She wants the baby’s skin to be lighter and if possible fairer. No one likes dark-skinned people, not even their mothers. Now don’t ask why. I am sure you aren’t that stupid. It’s because dark people are plain ugly!
My cousin was in the “marriage market” for three years. In those three years, at least 10-15 boys (no one really kept a count, so this is just a guess) would have come for the uniquely Indian “bride-watching” programme of hers. And every one of them rejected her, citing the very same reason, that she was dark! After all, dark people are ugly, and who will want to marry an ugly person?
A well-intentioned aunt once told my sister, “You are so smart and well-educated. Only if you were a little fairer: you would have got such a nice husband.” Well, after all, why will a “nice” man would want to marry a dark-skinned girl? Aren’t dark-skinned girls ugly?
If you aren’t convinced yet, just switch on your television set. Even your beloved Bollywood superstars will tell you the exact same thing. Fair is beautiful, and dark is so ugly. You want a husband? You want success? You want fame? You want to gain self-esteem? Four problems – one solution: get a fair-skinned body!
Why is this so? Why can people not look for beauty in dark-skinned people too? So much for the proverb “beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”. But, fundamentally, why should be there such an obsession with beauty at all? Are people historical forts, Taj Mahal, or the flowers on Kaas Plateau? Why can we not judge a person by their nature and their world view? After all, that is what will ultimately decide if someone can be compatible with you – may it be in a relationship, friendship or business.
This belief that only fair skin is beautiful is so ingrained in our Indian psyche that it reflexively manifests in various aspects of our life. This mindset is not something that advertisements have generated, but they help perpetuate it and make it socially acceptable. It’s time to stop and think. It’s time to appreciate every skin tone. It’s time to appreciate humans for who they are and not for how they look.