Obsession with Fair Skin

Sapna Babul Ka.... Bidaai (2007-2010)

In a country like India, where more people population is brown, people are still strangely obsessed with fairer skin colours. This affinity that Indians have with white skin dates back to the time when the country was ruled by the Mughals, Portuguese, Dutch, French and finally the British. All these rulers were relatively fairer than Indians and so the fair skin came to be viewed as a trait of people who are superior in position and class. Even after the independence and to this date, the country has reincarnated the views giving the fair-skinned men and women preferential treatment in almost all aspects of life.

Only recently have we started to see not-so-fair actresses on the big screen but before that, the film industry was mostly dominated by actresses with glowing, white skin. This regime did not only impact the careers of many brown and darker skin people who aspired to be in movies but also the general public who is the audience to these movies, TV shows, and commercials. It had helped in building the perspective that people have towards skin colours. The unjust treatment starts at a very tender age of childhood when kids knowingly or unknowing fellow kids names like Kaali and Kaalu just for fun.

The victims of skin colour based bullying may or may not take it too seriously at that time but it does get into their head. In several cases, getting called out for having dark skin by both friends and relatives had lead to depression, social anxiety and underconfidence. It is not even just about getting bullied but also losing the opportunities for something that is so natural and we have had from our birth. Not only do people with fair complexion get jobs regardless of their qualifications, but they also get unjust special treatment at the workplace. The matrimonial sites and advertisements too emphasise the need for fair-skinned bride and groom. Even when the brown ones do get accepted, it is unfair when families ask for more dowry just because the prospective bride isn’t snow-white.

Indians are so obsessed with fair skin that shelves of stores are filled with cosmetics that claim to lighten your skin colour and people do believe and buy these products to change something that cannot even be changed. The colour of our skin is genetic and one can only get lighter to some extent by removing the tan. People often bleach their skin and put on make up that is supposed to be for lighter tones. There was a time when people weren’t even aware of the different colours of foundations that are supposed to go with different colours and there was only one colour of foundation in the eyes of these people – the one that makes them unrealistically fair. There are even products available that make the groin fairer.

The change in the mindset of people regarding skin colour is a very recent phenomenon but better late than never. People have started to value what’s inside more than the view. There are many NGOs that are working towards creating awareness and fighting discrimination against skin colour in various parts of the country and with the online campaigns have started to reach more people as almost everyone is joining the world of internet. Several brands have taken steps in order to resonate the values of equality by making their products and commercials unbiased to fair skin.