“Wow ! she is so fair. We always wanted a fair girl for our son”, she (my potential future mother-in-law) exclaimed, “You see we all are average colour”, she continued. I once again zoned out in my thoughts, kept wondering, ‘what does an average, and below average or an above average colour mean? I had no prior reference or understanding of these terminologies. Anyway, from her expressions I gauged that i was definitely the ‘not so average’ colour. To tell you the truth, every single time anyone remarks about my complexion, it is demeaning. Yes! I think calling someone fair is just as unfair as calling someone dark, brown, pink, red , or any colour. I love my colour, but I don’t see it as being above or below any other colour and nor should anyone else see it that way.
Our country is so overtly obsessed with the white skin tone. Everywhere, be it advertisement, cinema, or the society in general, people associate some kind of goodness with Caucasian skin tone. Everyone from my maid to the lady who was ready to accept me as her daughter-in-law because I am ‘fair’ (but whose proposal I obviously rejected) want to either be fair skinned or at least have a chance to it. It is like everyone is being categorised on the basis of an imaginary shade card. My deepest sympathy goes out to people who are still trying their chance for a lighter skin tone by spending half of their hard earned income on fairness products.
Honestly, I wouldn’t hold that against them completely. The concept of beauty has constantly been associated with skin colour. For the longest time, skin colour is the measure of beauty. It is probably due to this reason that smart marketers have been able to rampantly promote and market their ‘fairness products’ with a poise in our colour conscious society. Pick up any skin cream today, it promises you a brightening effect, lightening effect or fairness effect, of course at varied time frames. The pricey ones usually rope in an already light skinned model/actress who promises you that within two weeks, four weeks or so you will be as fair as she is. Moreover, some of them even promise you a ‘paise wapas(refund)’ assurance. I however respect those who don’t even bother to promise a timeline. It is like keep using our cream, if it works great, if not forget it and use some other brand.
The perception of beauty as a phenomenon must ideally exist as something that is from within, and has little to do with how many shades darker or lighter one is . My aim of this write up is to say that no matter what colour you are born with, learn to acknowledge and respect it. It is heartening to see that so many celebrities and people have started to dismiss the association of beauty and skin colour. However, in less advanced societies like India, this social evil of ‘shadeism’ (Alice Walker,1982) continues to show its existence for now.