In between a television advertisement and entertainment- a fair skin model with blond hair walks into an office for an interview. She combs her hair – applies a fairness cream. Kaboom! She gets the job. The interviewer stands up in applause, people start clapping and the following taglines start playing in the background-
“7 days fairness guaranteed. Fairness gets you what you want. Fairness is marriage. Fairness is success. Fairness is self-esteem. “
Fairness is nothing but a transpiring propaganda.
Since when has fair skin and blond hair been natural for the entirety of India? Why do the print media, television, corporate(s), film industries a.k.a. Bollywood and erstwhile market participant support the fairness programs and the said prejudice? Why are Indians per se obsessed with fairness? Why are people obsessed with fairness? Is fairness more important than equality and self-esteem? Instead of promoting fairness ideology why not promote a healthy skin bereft of the colour biased discrimination?
In a country where racism and casteism are bred into since childhood, culturally and socially along with a commonwealth ideology, the idea of a beautified fair skin is bombarded into people’s lives with aggressive advertising. This equates fair skin with not just beauty but success and happiness. The obsession with fair-complexion, despite being shameful and irresponsible, is in blatant disregard towards the majority of the population which is either brown or dark-skinned.
India’s obsession with fairness viz. this cultural paradox is also unsafe on so many levels- such as causing insidious self-esteem issues and developing inferiority complex amongst others. The very ideology that “gora hai toh achha hai” (Fair is better) is as regressive as Trump’s statement “grab ‘em all by the pussies”.
Surprisingly, this thought is so deeply etched in our lifestyle that people compare the complexion amongst the brown skins as well. I observed this when I was faced with an awkward situation where a colleague of mine went on comparing our skins-
*”Why are you applying this powdered cream on your skin?” I questioned it out of curiosity.
“I want to look pretty” she replied.
Quizzed, I inquired further “We aren’t fair, just brown. Then why?”
“Because the fairer you are the prettier you look.”
This mindset sent me into a frenzy. I didn’t object to my colleague’s thinking and let her be as it is, but the deep obsession with skin whitening clearly reflected the ingrained commonwealth mindset and a deeply seated racism. This is further reflected from the regressive skin and colour based humour seen on Indian television. Comedians constantly making jokes on dark-skinned people, contestants painting themselves dark and the other contestants running away from him/her because being dark means being ugly. This scornful belief is also seen in the countless butt of jokes or roasts- on and off the televisions.
Sadly a roast, which is an insult- based comedy is hugely popular amongst youngsters and the majority of us are fine with it. For dark skin is an acceptable insult to us since it isn’t anything serious. But when a long history of suppression and racism on the basis of caste, creed or colour is persistent in 21st-century society, it doesn’t remain funny anymore. Rather it becomes a tragedy.
If we take a look at the top Google searches related to fairness performed in India:
- history of colorism in India
- colour discrimination in India
- skin tone in india
- indian skin bleaching before and after
- skin bleaching in india
- bollywood skin lightening
- north Indian skin tone why are brahmins fair skinned
- how to be fair
- how to get a fair skin
We will realise that we subconsciously tend to find ways to get fair, primarily to appeal the masses and to find a way out from being subjected to skin based discrimination.
This is further reflected from the brand Patanjali by Baba Pranam-dev who has launched his own beauty cream i.e. skin lightening product. Clearly reflecting that behind the idyllic Incredible India slogan their lies an ominous message- enjoy the white snows of Himalayas but if you are black tread softly in the streets of India. Surprisingly, there are a plethora of brands working on similar lines, with fair and lovely, fair and handsome a named few.
Also in view of the aforesaid, social justice in India has always been clouded by personal prejudice. It speaks of the public culture shaped by private inhibitions and lack of civic rule and sense. My direct message to the Indian mothers telling their futile proud sons “tere liye gori biwi layenge” (we will get a fair skinned girl for you), please cut the slack. Instead of teaching your children the positives of a fair skinned girl, how about you teach them the idea of respecting a woman? This will do more good to the society as a whole than having a fair skinned lineage.
Come out of your commonwealth idiocentric ideologies! Every colour is beautiful. Whether it is a “dark is beautiful campaign” or a “white is superior campaign”, everyone is special, everyone is pretty. So is the orange head of the white house.
Brandishing people and their choices on the basis of their skin tone is not evolution but rather degradation of human rights. Hopefully, someday we shall eliminate this Indian obsession with fairness from the Indian culture and not debate upon the pedagogical lines of fair vs dark skin.