India’s Fairness Battle: Does this show deep-rooted Racism in the Country?

The color biased mentality is so strong in India that fair n lovely/handsome ads to people not getting jobs because of their complexion seems to be way too normal

Actress Nandita Das. Wikimedia

October 13, 2016: Greek philosopher Plato believed that ‘beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder’. Well, it seems more of a phrase now, as the world has created a check-list for determining the degree of beauty!

Anyone who doesn’t follow or fit in the criteria, people indulge in name-calling them, and in Indian society, the carnival of racism and sexism is an open secret.

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The colour biased mentality is so strong in India that fair n lovely/handsome ads to people not getting jobs because of their complexion seems to be way too normal. The issue is so deep-seated that every matrimonial advert are seen to be demanding for a fair bride or groom. Dark skinned are dirty and dirty enough to be treated as dirt. As the dirt is wiped out to make a place clean, the skin lightening products or cosmetics are provided widely in the market to wipe out the dirt from the skin. A report in The Guardian mentions that Indians consumed 233 tonnes of skin whitening products in 2012.

Poulami Nag, a journalist in Delhi, said, “I developed an inferiority complex when I was young. Repeated comments on my skin colour made me feel bad, which gradually faded with time.” She added, “More or less, the most common question I faced was, how will you even marry if you are so dark-skinned?”

The carnival of racism and sexism is an open secret in India. Click To Tweet

Slowly, the self-confidence starts chipping away with every comment and so-called ‘good suggestions’ that people give.

“Classmates would go on to say, the only thing I do not like about you is your skin colour; it’s so dark,” she said.

A few years back, a commercial for an “intimate wash” to whiten vaginas emerged, showing how a young Indian woman can use the product to successfully regain the attention of her boyfriend/husband.

The advertisement was widely panned, but matrimonial websites or newspaper columns clearly suggests the obsession India has for fair skin, at least on a woman’s face, as it remains one of the major keys to getting attention.

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The mass market whitening pioneer of India was “Fair & Lovely”, which was launched in 1975 by the Hindustan Unilever. Emami, an Indian consumer group came up with “Fair and Teen” for the teenage girls and “Fair and Handsome” for the men.

And, ‘Fair and handsome’ is promoted by one of the biggest superstars of Bollywood, Shah Rukh Khan.

Shabarni Basu, Assistant Professor of Kalyani University

Shabarni Basu, assistant professor of Kalyani university, Kolkata while talking to NewsGram said, “It is sad that in our country beauty is synonymous with fair skin. Fair skin is a pre-requisite when you get married or in other social engagements. I am a firm believer that in no way skin tone has got any role to play in how you look. It is your personality and the way you carry yourself matters.”

She further added, “It’s high time society rises above these prejudices and embrace people for who they are and not discriminate on some goddamn issues over which one has no control. Such objectification, especially in the case of women in modern society, has no place.”

Recently, actor Tannishtha Chatterjee was present at a popular Tv show, Comedy Nights Bachao to promote her film, Parched.

The actress thought it would be a regular TV affair and some random jokes but it almost turned out to be a nightmare for her.

Apparently, the hosts felt it was funny or an act of ‘roast’ to make jibes at Tannishtha’s complexion. In a national television, the host referred to her as ‘kali kalooti’ and felt nothing inappropriate or wrong in asking if the actress has been eating jamun (blackberries) since childhood because of which mooh kala hai (she is dark skinned).

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This shows how deeply embedded this issue is. It seems absolutely normal to make fun of something over which one has no control.

That being said, there is an urgent need to inculcate the self-acceptance in ourselves before blaming the world. Consciously or unconsciously one need to stop catering to the demands of others. Be it celebrities or common people, one need to accept their plus-size body, dark skin, crooked teeth, birthmark on the face, without trying to fit the criteria of beauty by doing plastic or cosmetic surgeries.

– reported by Pinaz Kazi of NewsGram. Twitter: @PinazKazi