Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The Eternal Darkness (even) of the Spotless Mind

I just read a post by someone who has a fair complexion, fuming at colour-discrimination in our own country. It is a topic close to my heart which is neither dark . I have heard so many people rant about it that I always stayed away from adding to the debate. What could I say that lots of women have already not said before me?

Today, the anger stems from seeing Dilnavaz talk of a six-year old who has been taught, by her mother, that she is black and must rub besan to improve her complexion. This girl wil soon be a shy, insecure teenager, convinced that her complexion is the reason she can never be attractive. She will one day be a mother who will try to ensure a fair daughter, via genes or via besan, so that her child need not have the same handicap that she grew up with. And so the vicious circle will continue, a loop, a ring, a noose around all our necks.

At the age of 8, I came home from school one summer afternoon, my uniform and smiling teeth dazzlingly white in contrast to my genetically dark plus sun-baked, spent-the-day-in-the-field face. A relative was visiting and he was rather taken aback when he opened the door. When he saw me as a teenager, he admitted that I was quite attractive despite my dark skin, reminiscing how when he saw me that day long back, he'd wondered how on earth I would ever get married! It's a funny story, amusingly told by him, but deeper issues lie beneath.

I was always a dark child. Joining a new school mid-term in class 2, I was taunted by the boys: kaali-kaluti. Friendless and shy, it did not help me to be judged on the basis of my complexion. Luckily no one whose opinion I valued as I grew up cared about my colour, and I exulted in outdoor sports, not caring one bit about the sun beating down on me and destroying my prospects of a good marriage!

A recent ad on TV shows how women are now the ones who visit the boy's home to see him, to watch him exhibit his talent at singing/dancing, etc., and make the decision whether or not to marry him. Why the empowerment? Because these girls have become beautiful thanks to XYZ fairness cream, of course! So at the same time that it tries to subvert stereotypes, it also reinforces other harmful ones.

I condemn all women who endorse fairness creams. Stop capitalising on a national weakness. Women of African origin can choose a line of beauty products called Dark and Lovely. When can we in India do the same?

There are much bigger problems on the insides of human beings in today's world to continue to worry about what's going on outside. Children need to be taught to look deeper than skin for beauty or the lack of it. That is when we will learn to find true role models who will inspire us to be good, to be compassionate, to be fair, darkness and fairness be damned.

9 comments:

rishabh said...

You have been blogrolled!

the mad momma said...

you are dark because you were left out in the sun for 4 months... i have no excuse!

Anamika said...

Rishabh, thanks!

MM: I use that as an excuse, but anyone who's met my mom knows I'm lying. We are both "dusky beauties", ahem ahem ahem!!! :)

the mad momma said...

you are both beauties.. i agree.. ur mom has such a stunning grace about her.. i hope i grow up to be like that!

gulshan aunty said...

As I said on OJ's post, get pretty het up myself when this topic comes up. When oh when will people realise that it's the heart and mind that matter!

karmickids said...

Please please, married into a white skinned family. The saddest comment I get to hear about the brat is "Poor fellow, he hasnt got his father's complexion." which is the point at which I take the slipper off to fling...

Anamika said...

Kiran, I know just how it feels! I hear some family members say, in a thoughtful voice, "She's dark, but attractive." Huh? As if dark and attractive are mutually exclusive? People, I can see your soul, and it's BLACK!

By the way, have been reading your blog, specially your post on religion, since I just blogged on it this morning!

OrangeJammies said...

thank you for this beautiful post. we really need to get talking about this issue except sometimes i feel so helpless, like i'm preaching to the choir and the "infidels" are somewhere intangibly out there! sigh!

A very cool cat said...

Oh, stuff like this gets me fuming all the time. As if this rubbish matters!! And while empowerment ought to mean us going beyond such superficial considerations, we're using the whole idea of gender equality to drag men into the fray as well. Hence - the introduction of Fair and Handsome. I swear, the world's getting more moronic by the day.

Btw, reviewed Deathly Hallows on my blog - take a look, and tell me what you think.