When fair isn’t lovely: Sad truth about our obsession with fair skin

When fair isn’t lovely: Sad truth about our obsession with fair skin

Indians have an inherent affection towards fair skin. This is evident in our perceptions and preferences. Why do all matrimonial advertisements clearly mention the ‘requirement’ of a “fair, slim and beautiful bride”? Why do new mothers constantly worry about the complexion of their kids and ask for ‘remedies’ to get rid of dark skin as if it is an illness? Skin colour, like every other trait in the off-spring, is determined by the genes of the parents and the grandparents. There is no magical trick to make someone fair and lovely (pun intended).

In our society, skin colour is often associated with success. Skin lightening beauty products often advertise their products by conveying that if you have a fair skin tone, you are more likely to succeed at your work place. Really? There is nothing more pathetic than raising our sons and daughters with this perception. Even more disheartening is the fact that many celebrities promote such fairness creams, thereby creating false standards of beauty in the eyes of their fans.

How the quest for fair skin destroys childhood and womanhood?

As a member of many parenting groups on Facebook, I see numerous queries where ‘worried’ mothers ask for remedies to enhance the complexion of their babies. While some replies are about focussing on raising a confident child instead of a fair skinned one, most of the replies actually offer home remedies for lightening skin colour, ranging from raw milk to an ubtan of besan and yogurt! Instead of empowering another mother and assuring her that complexion of the baby is not a big deal, many women offer cosmetics recommendations and home-remedies. Can it get more unfortunate than this?

Now let’s talk about matrimonial advertisements. Have you come across one that doesn’t mention “fair bride wanted”? In fact, many prospective in-laws want a fair bride for their son so that their grandchildren are fair! Why are the qualifications and values of a female not as important as her skin colour? Isn’t it downright unfair to consider dark men as desirable and setting up standards of beauty on women?

The plight of girls with ‘wheatish’ complexion

Dusky girls grow up hearing unsolicited advices about lightening their complexion. ‘Shaadi mein problem hogi isko’, ‘Beta tum dhoop mein mat nikla karo’ and ‘Apply haldi and chandan paste twice a week’ are just few of the comments that random and so-called concerned people make upon sighting a girl that doesn’t have a skin tone that caters to the acceptable shade.

How to bring a positive change?

It is high time that we put an end to all these deplorable thoughts. All women are equally capable and strong. We don’t need to cater to the norms decided by the society to decide our worth. Only when women will empower and uplift other women by discarding the labels of dark and fair skin will our country become a better place for our tribe. We should raise children who are confident and respectful. We should discourage any discussion on skin colour because SKIN COLOUR IS NOT IMPORTANT AT ALL. Instead, fairness of the heart and mind is what we should strive for.

Dr. Shruti Sharma

Other than my formal training in life-sciences (in which I did my PhD), I am actively involved in following my passion for writing and crafts. When I am not spending time with my toddler, I read a lot and write on different topics as blogs, newspaper articles, short stories and poems. My articles are regularly published on a lot of online platforms. I love to explore different cultures and my writing reflects my opinion.