Dark vs. Fair

So this comes from an article I read early in the morning today on Medium. It’s written on the likes of Dark complexion and girls like the author who herself has one, embracing the skin and experimenting with bright colours on her body. She writes of some incident where her bright yellow outfit and bobbed hair with bright pink lipstick got censored by some women at a body shop. As I kept reading the article and came to the end where the author posted her pictures in different bright coloured outfits she wore, I thought about the need felt by us women to still justify our choices whether they are regarding make-up or our hairstyle or the most important of them all, clothes.

One recent personal experience of mine that I think is quite harmless to write about here is when during a friend’s wedding, this common girl friend of ours gave me some jewellery to wear because it went with my outfit, applied a dash of lipstick and blusher on my face while telling me it looks great on me because I am fair and also kept referring to my curls while in conversation with other friends. It’s rather nauseating to keep hearing about beautiful faces and smooth complexions at such close range. When I caught up with her in the rest room, she said with a sigh that we must make some efforts to look nice! And now that she’s been doing it for over a year, she feels great about herself. I am sure some people feel comfortable and greatly confident after doing things that boost their physical appearance and I am of the thought that everyone should feel comfortable about their bodies. This incident however, left me thinking about the way we are perceived by other people. Usually first impressions are always about our appearance right?

Street Art in Finland

We have set for ourselves parameters to look like in public and in private. I say this, because this very friend has very orthodox views on social issues that concern Femininity, Gender Roles in society or Patriarchy for example, and often speaks with her religious intone very clearly on these topics. Now I know that I am drifting apart from what I started to write about- fascination and fixation with our bodies. SKIN is the most prejudiced about body organ. Women most specifically indulge in nurturing this fixation and beautifying their skin their entire lives since when they first become conscious about it, usually made by their mothers, female relatives and other women. Men have started focussing on their skin colour too especially what with some International brand coming up with a fairness cream meant for men’s skin! When news came earlier this week about Laxmi- the Delhi Acid Attack Survivor who gave birth to a healthy baby girl and wrote about feeling conscious of her appearance to her young child, her partner assured her that the child will see her love and not her grafted skin. I felt incredible love for all three of them. They will prove to be perhaps the first family who will engage in no stereotyping of beauty for their girl child. They will set up no standards of defining beauty or labels that only point to our outer physical appearance without caring so much so for our inner goodness. Another example that I can think of is how Nandita Das gets labelled as the champion and speaker for women with dark skin. Surely she has dark skin and has been able to carve a career in a beauty focussed movie industry in India but the choice of words usually haunts me.

How many Indian women are exactly fair-skinned, barring the North and North East? Hardly a proportion compared to the other 20 states in our Nation. Yet when we talk of physical beauty we ignore the women who tie their babies on their backs and work in paddy fields or women who pick tea leaves on tea estates or the many who live in squatter settlements and sell their wares in trains. We focus on the handful as always has been. How does being dark or fair matter when it’s nothing but just a layer covering our body?! I bet if we keep hammering this thought then will we get over with this obsession about the skin tone. If all the women in the world suddenly decide themselves to chuck ideals of beauty, I believe certain economies and giant corporations will collapse and go bankrupt. We won’t feel then the need to judge other women by their skin colour or the wrinkles on their faces or the many scars we all feel ashamed of and consistently try to cover them up using make up! THAT would be the day of liberty and freedom for women in the truest sense.


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