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Is The Future ‘Dark’? : The Reason behind the Obsession of Indians for White Skin

In a country that believes 'fair' is 'lovely', it is by this simple logic that everybody else is ugly

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Every year, the sale of fairness creams keeps growing because of women's obsession with white skin
Cosmetics make a thriving business. Pixabay
  • 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.

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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.

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.

Pinky Beauty Parlour is a Bollywood film that talks about colourism in the ndian society where women are obsessed with white skin
Pinky Beauty Parlor, the film. Image source : YouTube

“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

 

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Three Indian Women on Fortune’s Most Powerful Business Women

Chanda Kochhar and Shikha Sharma have been ranked among the most powerful businesswomen outside of the United States by Fortune magazine

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Indian Women
Indra Nooyi - World Economic Forum Annual Meeting Davos 2008. Wikimedia

New Delhi, Sep 28, 2017: Indian women have undertaken every role in each sphere of life from beauty to the outrageous corporate world with due diligence.  Fortune magazine has released the Most Powerful Women in Business Outside the US list in which two Indian women, ICICI Bank’s Chanda Kochhar and Axis Bank chief Shikha Sharma have made it to the rankings while Indira Nooyi featured in the top three businesswomen on the US edition list.

Anna Bonnin, the executive chairman of the Banco Santander Group, was ranked first in the list. Kochhar was placed fifth, and Sharma was ranked 21st in the list.

PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi was ranked second on the US Most Powerful Women in Business list. General Motors CEO Mary Barra topped the list while Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson took the third spot.

Also Read: 5 Women Whose Caliber, Achievements Would Inspire You 

The annual list of working women outside the United States was released 17th time.  The 50 global businesswomen represented 17 countries and had 11 newcomers this year. The methodology involved four criteria: the size and importance of the woman’s business in the global economy, the health and direction of the business, the arc of the woman’s career (resume and runway ahead), and social and cultural influence, mentioned Livemint.

 

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A welcome step for women empowerment laws, soon to be introduced law will help to prevent women’s abuse in NRI marriages: Rakesh Srivastava

Rakesh Srivastava talked about increasing women employment, equal work participation, and gender equality

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A soon to be introduced law will help in women empowerment as it will prevent women’s abuse in NRI marriages
A soon to be introduced law will help in women empowerment as it will prevent women’s abuse in NRI marriages. Pixabay
  • Efforts are required for training and skill up-gradation of women in traditional, new and emerging areas to promote women’s employment
  • In November the government will honor 100 women achievers
  • Gender Equality is still not reflected in ‘participation in economic activities’ which is not a good thing for women empowerment

New Delhi (India), September 7, 2017: Rakesh Srivastava, Secretary, Ministry of Women and Child Development said that very soon a law will be finalized which will protect Indian women who are abandoned by their NRI husbands or foreign partners. He said this on 6th September 2107. It will be a praiseworthy step for women empowerment.

Srivastava was present for the inauguration ceremony of 2nd Conference on Women at the workplace- “Role of Leadership”, New Delhi. The Conference was organized by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM).

Women Empowerment by increasing job opportunities for women

According to ANI report, Rakesh Srivastava said “India has taken a lead role in gender budgeting in the world. Efforts are also required for training and skill up-gradation of women in traditional, new and emerging areas to promote women’s employment in both organized/unorganized sectors, including entrepreneurial development.”

Women Achievers will be honored

Srivastava also informed that in November the government will honor 100 women achievers. The event will be held in Hyderabad and will possibly be attended by The US President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump. The government decided to honor women achievers will inspire other women to reach great heights of success, this step will foster women empowerment.

Equal Opportunities for Women

He further added that if suitable strategies and also laws which help in women empowerment are implemented- it will ensure equal opportunities for women to enter as well as enjoy decent work in a healthy work environment. This will also include fair and equal wages, health measures, social security measures and occupational safety.

Also Read: Misery of the outcast wives in India by their NRI husbands

Knowledge about Gender Equality will increase Women Empowerment

He cited that gender equality is critical for the development of any country. Srivastava said that by removing barriers which prevent women from having the same access to economic opportunities, education, and productive inputs as men will lead to productivity gains. It is a crucial step to be taken in today’s globalized and competitive world.

Srivastava said, “India has been ranked 87 out of 144 countries on the latest World Economic Forum’s Gender Gap Report 2016, but in the economic sphere, much work remains to be done as India ranks 136 in this pillar out of 144 countries.” He added that gender equality is still not reflected in ‘participation in economic activities’ which is not a good thing for women empowerment.

Workforce Participation Rate in Men v/s Women

“In 2011, the workforce participation rate at all India level is 25.51% for women as compared to 53.26% for men. While there is no urban-rural gap for males (53%), there is a considerable rural-urban gap for females, when workforce participation rate for rural women is 30% it is only 15.4% for urban women,” Srivastava said, mentions ANI report.

Also Read: In Netherlands, PM Narendra Modi pitches for Women Empowerment in India

Women Empowerment by building women’s Hostels for widows and women in distress

Rakesh Srivastava, the secretary of Ministry of Women and Child Development also shared that the government is working on women’s hostels that can also be utilized by the widows and women in distress in India.

Srivastava said “Women form an integral part of the Indian workforce. They need to be equal partners in the society for them to be equal participants in work. Women have to contend with discriminatory laws, institutions and attitudes that restrict their leadership and full participation in public life.” He added that what prevents women from becoming effective leaders is unequal access to resources.

October 15 will be observed as ‘Women Farmer’s Day’ all thanks to Krishna Raj, Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. This move by a minister, noticing rural women’s contribution in farming paves way for women empowerment of rural women.

Krishna Raj said, “Women can make enormous contributions to economies, whether in businesses, on farms, as entrepreneurs or employees, or by doing unpaid care work at home.”


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Indian women are at higher risk of death due to Domestic Violence than American women: Study

According to the research domestic violence was found to increase the risk of death in Indian women by nearly 40 times than among the US women

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Street Play on domestic violence
Street Play on domestic violence. Wikimedia
  • Researchers from the University of Washington found three major causes of injury -fall, road traffic accidents and domestic violence
  • US men were three times as likely to die after sustaining a fall than US women
  • One in four female victims of assault in India actively seeks care after experiencing intimate partner violence

New York, USA, September 3, 2017:  Women in India are nearly 40 times more likely to die after being assaulted than their peers in the US, finds a comparative analysis of trauma data from both countries.

In the study, researchers from the University of Washington found three major causes of injury -fall, road traffic accidents and domestic violence.

Indian men were more likely to die after sustaining any one of the three categories of injury than either Indian women or US men and women.

On the other hand, US men were three times as likely to die after sustaining a fall than US women.

However, the greatest disparity in risk of death emerged for Indian and US women who had been assaulted -a difference the researchers described as “unparalleled”.

Domestic violence was found to increase the risk of death in Indian women by nearly 40 times than among the US women.

Importantly, evidence showed that only one in four female victims of assault in India actively seeks care after experiencing intimate partner violence.

In addition, both men and women in the US had between five and seven times lower odds of dying after a fall or a road traffic accident than did their counterparts in India, the researchers said.

“The higher odds of death for Indian females compared with US females suggest that there are other injuries and systemic factors that contribute to this discrepancy in mortality odds,” said Mohini Dasari, a researcher at the University of Washington.

For the study, published in the online journal BMJ Global Health, the team drew on information submitted to Indian (11,670 cases) and the US (14,155 cases) trauma databases for 2013 to 2015.

The Indian database comprised patients from four hospitals in Kolkata, Mumbai, and Delhi, while the US database included patients treated at level 1 trauma centres in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (IANS)