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- Many Indians, especially women feel a disturbing obsession with fairness
- Colourism is a deep-rooted belief in the Indian society
- Advertising of skin whitening products has shifted from downright offensive to cautiously discreet, but the range on offer keeps growing
– By Soha Kala
July 27, 2017: “I had a voice and opinion but they muted my sound/ probably because I was told ‘boys only like girls who are fair and lovely’ “- says 18-year-old Aranya Johar. These words of a young poet whose vehement poetry brought the entire Indian society obsessed with ‘white’ skin to a standstill.
In a country that believes ‘fair’ is ‘lovely’, it is by this simple logic that everybody else is ugly. We live in a society where women are obsessed with their western, whiter counterparts.
HISTORY (MIGHT) HAVE ANSWERS-
- Understanding Brahmins as ‘light’ skinned and other castes as ‘dark’- While this has been metaphorically used in traditional writings, it could have taken physical meaning over time. (Being fair might have meant to clean the thoughts not the skin.)
- Indian domination by Persians, Turks, Afghans, Europeans and British- These people had fairer skin in comparison to the native Indians. Since these people were regarded as social ‘elites’, there may have been an inclination to be ‘like them’.
- Being Brown is unclean and ugly? – Subjection to racist views of the elites, generally viewing Indian skin color as ‘ugly’.
Adherence to white(er) overlords has been long associated white skin with power, status, and desirability among Indians, which is still reinforced by beauty magazines featuring foreign models. If an Indian face appears on these, it is obviously whitewashed.
We are brought up on a steady diet of dolls in only fair skin and fairness cream advertisements. The idea further transitions into media when matrimonial columns in newspapers and online websites are dominated by suffocating expectations, where age or caste is flexible but only if you’re ‘beautiful and fair’ and celebrities endorse creams that can make you, including men, fair. (What happened to the tall, dark and handsome man?)
This Colorism, coined by Alice Walker, is perhaps even older than caste discrimination, pushing innumerable Indians to artificially lighten their skin, a phenomenon popularly known as,
Bleaching Syndrome – A conscious process of self- denunciation which reflects deep-set belief that fair skin is better, more powerful, and prettier.
This is not exclusively restricted to India, but also common in rest of Asia and Africa.
A BOOMING BLEACHING MARKET
The $950 million retail beauty and cosmetic industry in India attractively packages cosmetic products promising ‘white beauty’ and ‘perfect nikhaar‘ (glow), purposely sold in ‘white’ casing. Then come vaginal creams to make it ‘fair’.
However, what many people don’t know is that they’re laden with dangerous steroids.
A 2014 report by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a Delhi-based not for profit research and advocacy organization revealed presence of heavy metals like lead, cadmium chromium and nickel in popular beauty products including foreign brands, which can damage kidneys and cause skin discoloration, rashes and scarring, besides leading to psychosis and peripheral neuropathy among other things.
This desire for an ‘ugly duckling to beautiful swan’ transition perhaps, explains the thriving industry, and success of image editing softwares like Photoshop and Instagram filters.
However, the beauty landscape appears to be evolving. In a series of hard-hitting Facebook posts, actor Abhay Deol called out members of his own fraternity in May this year for endorsing fairness creams, labeling their claims false and demeaning. His posts caused uproar in the country, inspiring similar stories that have since trended on social media.
In a similar instance in 2016, actress Tannishtha Chatterjee had also posted a Facebook status after walking out of a television shoot following demeaning remarks on her skin tone. Her post had over 300 shares.
Recently, actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui also took a dig at the industry calling out its racist culture.
Thank U 4 making me realise dat I cannot b paired along wid d fair & handsome bcz I m dark & not good looking, but I never focus on that.
— Nawazuddin Siddiqui (@Nawazuddin_S) July 17, 2017
Till date, one of the most well-known empowerment and awareness programmes is the ‘Dark is Beautiful’ campaign that reinforces that every person is beautiful. With films like ‘Pinky Beauty Parlour’ now being made that question why women with lighter skins are coveted, and envied while the darker skinned ones are shunned, mocked and shamed, the issue is being repeatedly taken up by people.
“Forget snow white, say hello to chocolate brown/ I’ll write my own fairytale” are worded from Aranya’s A Brown Girl’s Guide to Beauty on YouTube that represent the progressive stand of the Indian youth on colorism.
Opinions and voices are coming forward thus raising a question, is the future ‘dark’?
– by Soha Kala for NewsGram. Twitter @SohaKala
India is known for its pickles, popularly called 'Achaar', even across the world. But who thought about the idea of pickles in the first place? Apparently, the idea of making pickles first came from the ancient civilisation of Mesopotamia, where archaeologists have found evidence of cucumbers being soaked in vinegar. This was done to preserve it, but the practice has spread all over the world today, that pickles mean so much more than just preserved vegetables.
In India, the idea of pickle has nothing to do with preservation, rather pickle is a side dish that adds flavour and taste to almost anything. In Punjab, parathas are served with pickle; in the south, pickle and curd rice is a household favourite, and in Andhra, it is a staple, eaten with everything. The flavour profile of pickles in each state is naturally different, suited to each cuisine's taste. Pickles are soaked in oil and salt for at least a month, mixed with spices and stored all year round. Mango season is often synonymous with pickle season as a majority of Indians love mango pickle. In the coastal cities, pickles are even made out of fish and prawns.
The Indian Achaar Image credit: Photo by Rahat Hossen on Unsplash
In other cultures, the pickling process has more to do with preservation. Cold countries, where temperatures drop to very low levels, pickle their vegetables in brine, vinegar, or salt. Sweden is famous for pickled herring, because fishing all year round is hard with all the snow and ice. The German Sauerkraut, originally composed of rice, cabbage, and wine, is now made using salt instead of wine. This gives it a sour flavour that is characteristic of the beloved German delicacy.
In Korea, kimchi is the national delicacy. It is a pickle that is made from pickled cabbages with a distinct mix of spices. Kimchi is made with various core ingredients, and is gaining popularity these days with the Korean Wave hitting the globe. It is a practice that represents the Korean winters, which are too harsh to grow anything. The Kimchi business is one of the largest in Korea, while the individual family recipes are also well-preserved as it is believed that each is unique in its own way.
The pickles made from dill and vinegar are most famous in America. It was introduced to the Americans by the Jewish immigrants. Dill pickles are best paired with sandwiches.
Keywords: Pickles, Culture, Brine, Vinegar, Preserves
It is impossible to detail the history of bookbinding without understanding the need for it. A very useful, and yet simple invention, spiral coils that hold books together and allow mobile access to the user came about just before WWII, but much before that, paper underwent a massive change in production technique.
Beginning in China, paper was made of bamboo sticks slit open and flattened. In Egypt, papyrus was made from the reeds that grew in the Nile. In India, long, rectangular strips of palm leaves were stitched together to form legible documents. When monasteries were established, scrolls came into being. Parchment paper, or animal hide, also known as vellum, were used to copy out texts periodically to preserve them. Prior to all this, clay tablets were used to record important events, and in some cases, rock edicts were made.
But all this changed with the invention of the printing press by Gutenberg. Paper became the medium by which inscriptions, announcements, and almost everything was made. Once paper became so accessible, printing began in full scale. Newspapers and the Bible were printed every day.
Metal coils were used before the world war Image credit: Photo by Dan Bucko on Unsplash
With wads of paper, something had to be done about keeping them together. Bookbinding began as a booming business. First, the pages were just sewn together. A special sewing machine was invented just for books. When this did not suit all book types, the process of punching and binding began. Holes were punched in books, and they were tied together.
Much later, an adhesive thermoplastic strip became available by which book pages were stuck together. They sold in this format for a long time. Ideas began to flow in for notebooks when people discovered that they could attach pieces of paper together. A machine was invented that drew lines. This made it easier for people who wrote a lot.
After a while, when people got used to having their books a certain way, The Spiral Binding Company opened in 1932, which changed the way bookbinding was done. Books could now be bound by coil and this was not only economical, but also convenient, because pages could easily be turned without breaking the bind. The original spiral bind coil was made of metal, but when supplies were rationed during WWII, they were made from plastic. This trend has remained to the present day, where spiral bound books are preferred to the other kinds of binding except in cases of publishing and official documentation.
Keywords: Spiral Binding, WWII, Paper, Books, Printing
By N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe
To keep the value and quality of what you offer, whether it's a romantic breakfast in bed or a royal wedding gift that will be remembered for years. The concept of gift-giving has taken on a number of shapes in today's society. Devina Singhania, the Founder of 'LE JAHAAN', a local home and decor accessories company, explains how the gifting paradigm has shifted.
Q: What do consumers expect from the gifting business and packaging designers these days?
A: Today's consumers are expecting more minimal sustainable products, designs and mediums. They are now more conscious about how their purchase affects the environment. Considering this shift in consumer buying, it's extremely important for companies to increase their commitments to responsible business practices and design products that are meant to be reused or recycled.
Today's consumers are expecting more minimal sustainable products, designs and mediums. | Photo by Superkitina on Unsplash
Q: The practice of self-gifting is being driven by millennials. What are your thoughts on the subject?
A: I absolutely agree with this. Millennials are so creative and expressive. They are more into personalized products with which they can tell the world something about themselves. We are often hired by millennials to monogram and personalize products for them. They truly believe it's the best way to stand out from the crowd and establish a signature style and we couldn't agree more.
We are often hired by millennials to monogram and personalize products for them. | Photo by freestocks on Unsplash
Q: What impact do colour trends have on gift designs and packaging?
A: 'Le Jahaan' has always been very influenced by colour and trends and we hope to continue this association with colour even while we break through to more sustainable products and collections.
'Le Jahaan' has always been very influenced by colour and trends | Photo by freestocks on Unsplash
Q: What has changed as a result of the pandemic in terms of how we commemorate special occasions and the gift-giving tradition?
A: It's smaller in quantity but more luxurious and thought through.
Q: What giving trends should one keep an eye on in 2022?
A: Consumers, including millennials and members of Generation Z, are especially concerned with sustainability. So, the trend is definitely to go green with eco-friendly.
Q: How does Le Jahaan keep its clients coming back?
A: Our products speak for themselves. We make small batches with exceptional quality with a personal touch.
(Article originally published on IANSlife) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: gifts, le jahaan, festive, millennials, sustainable, gen z, paradigm, gifting