Was watching my favorite daily soap the other day. During a break I forgot to switch channels and was thus exposed to the slew of advertisements that informed me about all things I needed without which my life was not worth living. I was also made aware that I wasn’t fair enough for anything good in life and every second ad was for either a cream or a soap or a bleach or a powder that promised to magically turn me fair—within a week or in a few minutes or in some cases even instantly. Some even offered me a scale to measure my fairness. I despaired along with the girl who was lamenting about not getting the attention of the guy she desired just because she was not the shade of milk. I rejoiced with the girl who turns into a diva (Cinderella like) after using the cream. (who needs a fairy godmother now that we have the fairness creams). And now men have joined the race too, to become whiter, with special creams for the masculine skin. (duh?)
This obsession with the white skin becomes so much more pronounced in the matrimonial pages of any newspaper or magazine. (by the way I find them a very entertaining read). All the bachelors out there are Tall, FAIR, and Handsome (all the girls waiting for your Tall, DARK, and Handsome prince- eat your heart out. There aren’t any) wanting beautiful and FAIR brides. And as for the girls, there are shades describing them from ‘very fair’ to ‘fair’ to ‘wheatish’ but never beyond that. With ‘arranged marriage’ still practiced in our country the parents of a dark skinned girl despair to find a groom for her. It does not matter how flawless her skin may be or how beautiful the features and no matter how well educated, smart, cultured or good at heart she may be-she loses it all to mere ‘melanin’.
I found out that this obsession for the fair skin goes back in centuries. The gods or ‘devataas’ were depicted as fair skinned whereas the demons or ‘asuras’ as dark skinned. Or maybe the bias had to do with the lighter skinned upper caste who ruled, as against the dark skinned lower caste people who did menial jobs.
And then as the final nail in the coffin, came the European rulers from the west and their ‘gori mems’, thus sealing the fates of all people dark skinned.
This ‘wanting of fair skin’ begins much before the birth of the child. When a woman is expecting she’s advised to eat almonds soaked overnight or drink raw coconut water and many more such remedies, so that her child will be fair. Even after the birth of the child the thing most talked about, amongst people coming to visit, after his/her resemblance to either of the parents, is the skin color.
And with the people swooning over the fair skinned actresses on big and small screen alike, it’s no wonder that the ‘fairness’ market is booming in our country with the cosmetic companies raking in the moolah.
So, is there a cure? It’s difficult to change the mindsets of a whole population just like asking the river to flow uphill. It will not happen till the people themselves start thinking differently and go beyond ‘skin deep’. Till then , I guess, the fair and lovelies will rule.
A food for thought though—what happens if you continue using the fairness cream after the stipulated 7 days in which it claims to make you at least five tones lighter. Do you go whiter and then some more whiter and then translucent and then what?????Try and let me know.
Till then I’m happy in my skin.