As a three year old kid , I had learnt the antonym of beautiful that is ugly through a picture depicting a fair skinned girl as beautiful and a brown woman’s image as ugly. This book was included in the book list of my kindergarten. A lot of videos and posts are uploaded on the social media regarding skin lightening remedies and melanin reduction therapies . I, seriously don’t understand this – Will the reduced melanin pigmentation increase my skills or will it increase my grey matter ?
Sales of skin whitening products have continuously expanded and has gained popularity in India. In fact out of the entire facial care market, almost 50% revenue comes from skin whitening and lightening creams. And the only question that strikes my mind is –
Why does a country with majority of brown people has such a fair-skin obsession?
Hindu ancient texts show that Lord Krishna (considered to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu) had dark skin. The meaning of the word “Krishna” itself is “Dark” or “Black”. Similarly, the Rig Veda mentions about the leader of Dasyus, Trasadasyu ( son of Purukutsa ) to be a dark complexioned man.
In the following quote of Hadith equality of people of all complexion has been discussed
” O people, your Lord is one and your father Adam is one. There is no favour of an Arab over a foreigner, nor a foreigner over an Arab, and neither white skin over black skin, nor black skin over white skin, except by righteousness. Have I not delivered the message?”-Musnad Ahmad 22978
This clearly indicates that racial discrimination has nothing to do with religious teachings and no one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin. So, where does all this comes from ?
Mughals and Britishers who ruled India were fair-skinned and this might have contributed to the mindset of Indians that the fair ones are more powerful and able. The caste system too has strengthened the obsession for fair skin. Earlier the lower-caste poor workers who worked entire day under the sun, got tanned while the upper class people remained in their house protected from the sun.
Gandhiji’s first act of civil disobedience started in South Africa when he decided not to comply with the country’s aggressive colour bigotry. Gandhiji was forcibly ejected at Pietermaritzburg when he had refused to agree to the racial segregation rules on a South African train.
Today, in the land of Gandhi most of us have either heard or faced some sort of derogatory racial comments from the society. Even the Bollywood actors like Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Nandita Das, Manoj Bajpai and Bipasha Basu have faced racial discrimination. The prejudices present in Bollywood has led Bollywood to be accused of racism time and again. Actors are seen endorsing fairness creams and somehow the people of film industry continue to perpetuate colourism. Inspite of being a country with mostly brown skin people, most of the Bollywood actors are fair-skinned . Not only the female actresses but also the male actors are mostly fair-skinned. The “tall, dark and handsome” statement can be evidently seen evanescing . This discrimination has not spared any one of us. Kids in school pass detracting comments on children with the dark complexion and these disparaging remarks leave them with lower level of confidence.
In case of arranged marriages in India, the skin colour bias has far reaching outcome on women belonging to poor families. It is often seen that dark-skinned women are demanded more dowry compared to the fair-skinned woman. The poor families are already burdened by societal pressure of “paraya-dhan” (to “settle” their daughters) and the high charged dowry by the groom’s family adds on to the burden. There are even reported cases of dowry harassment of newly wedded brides due to the dark-skin they own. No wonder we see the matrimony advertisement requiring only fair brides.
Also read : https://desiobstinate.com/dowry-o-wry/
India’s first ever fairness cream was Afghan snow later on many fairness creams came into the picture. Since then there has been no looking back for these fairness creams company and we Indians have still not overcome the conception of “fair and lovely”.
The recent announcement of removal of the word “FAIR” from the fairness cream “Fair & Lovely” and renaming it with “Glow & Lovely” by Hindustan Unilever shall be seen as a good news after years and years of flawed branding. The skin tone filter removal declaration of the matrimonial website, Shaadi.com after facing backlash from users, shows the enhancing change in the mindset of people who had filed the petition for the skin tone filter removal.