Magic Mirror, on the wall. Who's the fairest of them all?
With the death of George Floyd, the world raged and started a movement against the oppression and racism towards ending the Black community. Many celebrities began voicing their opinions on social media in support of the Black Lives Movement, and some even joined the protests. People took it to streets and protested against Police and Government. Even international artists and actors from different parts of the world raised their voices and used their platforms to speak against police brutality and the #blacklivesmatter issue. But when Bollywood artists who were silent during the CAA/NRC protests posted images in support of George Floyd protests, Indians flooded the comment section with hatred and asked why they did not have any opinion on the CAA protests and police brutality in India.
The Black Lives Matter issue raised in the States made Indians realize that this happens in our country, India. Our commercials, telenovelas and cinemas glorify white skin.
We all watched “Fair & Lovely” ads growing up. Their ads portray women who cannot get into a university of their choice, find a groom (Indians mostly get married to the person of their parent’s choice), or even get selected for the primary role in a dance performance because she is dark-skinned. Then, you can see Yami Gautam, an actress who rose to fame with Fair & Lovely ads, suggesting the person to use the cream. After she starts using the cream and turning “white,” everything is solved! They get into the university they want to and get all the chances they want because they turned fair and flawless. Now, I used this few years ago and people! I have to say! That shit doesn’t work!
Racism exists in India too. Some people instinctively call dark-skinned people in India “Madrasi.” You can hardly ever see a dark-skinned actor. Many artists have been denied entry into the cinema world because of their skin color. And whoever is present on-screen, there has to be at least one racial joke associated with him or her. You can even see people generalizing the joke when, in fact, no one should ever be judged by their complexion. A pregnant woman is suggested to drink saffron-milk so that the child born will be fair in color. Before the child even enters the world, the baby is subjected to racial discrimination based on the color of their parents. The first thing that comes to an Indian when they see a newborn baby is “Oh, the baby is so fair” or “The baby is dark.” The Indians that glorify the ‘dark-skinned’ Krishna wish that their babies are born white as milk so that their children do not get bullied or humiliated because of their color.
It had no impact at all. All that people derived from that show was that we have to be fair-skinned. I understand that dark-toned people in India face a certain number of problems, but if you wish to address the issues of a dark-skinned girl in a soap, it might as well allow a dark-skinned girl and give her the chance to prove her acting skills instead right? Please correct me if I am wrong or if my point came across wrongly.
While poets like Aranya Johar are trying to tell the brown girls that color their skin is beautiful and they are beautiful, people like Yami Gautam who appear on the TV every 15 minutes in the commercials are more popular as people relate to wanting to be fairer than be fair to themselves and stop applying harmful products. I am not writing this article as a hate speech. I want to address where we are going wrong with this. My knowledge is limited to the things I read, watch, and hear. There is more to this want to be fairer than the points I stated.
India was ruled by the British for 200 years, and our ancestors grew up with the belief, “white equals superiority.” This ingrained self-depreciation began with the British rising into power. To say one is beautiful, they are told that they look very fair. You aren’t called beautiful but are told that you look fair-skinned, which is considered a compliment. My cousin’s mother mindlessly buys her haldi, besan, saffron, and spends all money on products to make her white. You are called beautiful if you are fair-skinned. Until Fenty Beauty, even cosmetics did not consist of a range of colors for people of different skin tones. Now, many seem to realize that their color is beautiful. It is lovely, and it is okay. You do not have to be fair-skinned to win a stupid competition that you won’t remember in a few years. You don’t need to be fair-skinned to get married or fulfill your dreams.
Given that being white in the US and fair-skinned in India has individual peaks. When someone tells you you look fair, you automatically feel a bit more confident because of how you were brought up. But defining yourself based on your color is being harsh on yourself. It is not just that what makes you who you are. It is everything that played a role in shaping you and what you are within. Remember to raise your voice against racial discrimination or any form of discrimination. Remember that you are beautiful the way you are and do not rely on others’ opinions of you to validate your existence.
Note: I mentioned it mainly in terms of a dark-skinned girl in India, but I would like to say that men face this too. Some actors were denied entry in certain cine-industry due to their skin color in India, and the discrimination in Hollywood is known to all.