Unfair attitude toward unfair (dark) complexion

We (Indians) are known to be obsessed with a fairer complexion. The words fair and lovely are synonymous for us. Skin lightning creams such as ‘fair and lovely’ make millions of dollars in India. Most matrimonial advertisements start with the word ‘fair’/’gori’ (‘wheatish brown’ /’saawali’ for those not blessed with a light skin color 🙂 ). The Indian movie-industry (bollywood) also favors the fair skin. Some of the most popular bollywood songs glorify the white skin (‘gori hai kalayian….’, the literal english translation: ‘white are my wrists….’ 🙂 ). Even the most talented actresses in Bollywood have to apply loads of skin powder to pander to the Indian masses.

Is this compulsive preoccupation with fair skin and skin lightning restricted to India? Not so. A quick google search reveals that 2 out of 5 women in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea and Thailand, use skin lightening creams. The use of these creams is widespread in South America and Africa as well. Throughout the world, white female models outnumber the black ones by a huge majority. This seems a bit paradoxical when a lot of white females spend obscene amounts of time and money on skin tanning. Is it just that most of us are not happy with our natural skin shades or there is a difference between tanned skin and dark-colored skin? Probably both.

Is this obsession merely an individual preference for a light skin color? Nope. There is definitely more than meets the eye. A lot of Indians use the word ‘kallu’ for referring to Black people. ‘Kalla’ means black in Hindi, but the word ‘Kallu’ is usually used in a derogatory sense. Recently, the Indian health minister chided the Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan for setting a bad example to the youth by smoking in movies and public. But what about the actor’s endorsement of a fairness cream? Just as smoking is harmful for the lung tissues, so is this obsession with fair complexion for the ethos of our society. Everyone is free to make personal choices, but passing these prejudices from generation to generation is not helping us. All in all this is just another brick in the wall of social/racial segregation.

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4 Responses to “Unfair attitude toward unfair (dark) complexion”

  1. therewillbeblood Says:

    Remember that in Europe a couple of centuries ago, the upper class distinguished themselves from the lower classes by having the “blue blood”. Basically a pale skin in which the blue veins are clearly visible. If not pale enough, they would use make up to make it even look paler.

    The lower class had the “dirty” tan from working in the fields all day. I’m guessing may be something is still happening today in India, where social class and caste is still important for certain people?.

  2. beingandnothing Says:

    If it is just India, then how do you explain the fact that white models outnumber the black models probably by 10 to 1 in Milan, Paris, New York, Rome etc.

  3. rishisb Says:

    that’s because Vijay Mallaya is on the model selection panel, duh!!

  4. Raghu Says:

    As much as i would like to see a change in everyone’s thinking.. its “unfair” to blame it only on Indians…

    Its everywhere dude..
    Now that you brought up Fair and Lovely, why do you think “they” – (its not an indian company as far as i know) named it that way.

    now that you brought up Movies, think about the following.

    1. Star wars – “dark side of the force !” – we all know that doesnt refer to a good side.
    2. Lord of the rings “dark lord Souron” and WHITE wizard GANDALF
    3. Ever seen a non-white James Bond !
    4. Ever wondered why every woman in english movies wears a WHITE gown for her wedding instead of a black gown ?

    Consider these:
    Ever heard of a term “white-listed” instead of “blacklisted”..I bet that term doesnt have an indian origin..
    Why do all angels everywhere wear “white” clothes and not black ?
    Why did Martin Luther King become famous in US
    Why did all the slaves in the western countries were historically black

    Wake up …. its not just Indians.. it everywhere….everybody ! i appreciate you bringing this topic up… but dont just say Indians.. !!

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