In my childhood, the basic difference between my sister, my cousin who lived next door and I was this – she was the darkest among us three, my cousin is the fairest. Years later when he tied the knot, his wife too was fair. But being fair was not their reason for marriage. However, in my sister’s mind, being fair was important, at least as a child.
When my nephew was born, he was fair and he still is light-wheatish if not fair. My sister, all of 17, placed the baby’s hand in hers and exclaimed – he is white compared to my dark color. For her, being dark meant being told what colors not to wear, what to do and what not to do. Typical Indian household, isn’t it? Recently I watched this short film Light and Lovely courtesy Facebook, and it instantly took me back to my childhood.
The Fairness cream campaigns were mesmerizing to us. It made sure we believed that fair is beautiful, acceptable and of course the best. In maybe the littlest ways, it did undermine our confidence and our sense of feeling ‘beautiful’. However, fortunately, we both have overcome this nonsense and are happier as we are!
On this note, I jotted down my thoughts on Speakingtree.in – Dark is beautiful. You can watch the video here: Uttera Singh's Light and Lovely
I am a brown-skinned Indian woman. I am not fair. Not wheatish either. My sister is darker than I am, maybe one shade darker but she is the duskier one. And hence, she is Kali – an adjective often used to describe her. Growing up in a typical Bengali household, I faced a lot of flak because I was short and fat. I envied my sister’s height and slim figure. She was the one good at math too. I felt useless.
On the other hand, my sister was fighting her own battles. She was easily angered, sensitive and even misunderstood. She was insecure about her dark skin color. I remember every time we bought new clothes, an aunt would always comment – Oh this color would look better on your sister… she is fairer than you! And this would set her off.
For a long time, I could not understand why she took it to heart. But this changed when I married a ‘fairy white’ boy. No, our complexions never mattered to us but it mattered to my mother-in-law and her family. So now they had an ugly woman in their family – ME. I was asked to wear only red and green as it was a color that suited a dark person the best.
I was now in my sister’s shoes. I was made to believe I did not deserve anything good. What I was facing as a young woman, my sister suffered as a child, maybe even as a toddler as she was always the ‘Kali’ ladki. As for me, the pressure of growing taller and slimmer gave me enough grief. Our obsession with fairness is such that we treat the darker, the lovely duskier or savla rang as a disease that we must be rid of. A dark girl will have to pay more dowry, a fat one will have to double it up. To cure this, there are beauty treatments, face masks and of course fairness creams. Tubes and tubes of creams must be applied along with homemade natural ubtans to lighten the skin tone. Sigh… if only we paid heed to what was in the head!
Read more here: Dark is beautiful