“Yashomati mayya se bolo Nandlala, Radha kyun gori main kyun kala……”
(Lord Krishna asking his mom why his complexion is darker that his friend Radha)
Never, while listening to these lyrics had I ever wondered that this will someday be a reality that I will have to face. Especially when I had never bothered about the dusky complexion I had all my life. My grandma used to be worried all the time.”Beta,use besan and haldi pack”, “Beta don’t go out in the sun so much or who will marry you?”. It never bothered me much, because I was in my own world mostly, my books, my music, and my friends. Luckily for me ‘dark is beautiful’ was just emerging in the west and I used to read about the likes of Naomi Campbell, Sheetal Mallar and Bipasha Basu. They were my inspiration. Though, sometimes I did wish I was a few shades lighter just to be able to carry a few colors well and to avoid speculation.
Reading Mills and Boons had me always dreaming about a tall, dark and handsome guy who would sweep me off my feet. So I grow up thinking ‘dark’ was in but recently Shahrukh Khan just blew it in my face with ‘Fair and handsome'(funny, that he is not so fair himself). So there was this generation obsessed with skin color, then we evolved and accepted ‘darker skin’ and now we go back in full circle to it. Oddly, most foreigners would give a hand and a leg for the beautiful tan we have. And it’s just the coloration of the skin, it does not define your character or your success rate or even your social standing. You can be a better human being, be hugely great at what you do and be rich and famous despite your colour. Then why do we bother about it so much? I would say why even Nandita Das needs to be a brand ambassador for ‘Stay Unfair,stay beautiful’? Just shouldn’t bother us fair or ‘unfair’.
This obsession has seeped in so deep into our systems that even little kids have to face it. My son, who is blessed with the ‘dark’ skin didn’t even know he was ‘less fortunate’ until one day, at the tender age of five, his childhood friends refused to play with him since he was ‘potty color’. As parents, we have tried so hard to explain to him that it really doesn’t matter. But the discrimination he suffers time and again, affects his personality. Instead of focusing on the fact that he is really bright and talented, I see him being more obsessed with the clothes he is wearing, the brands and his hairstyles, because he believes that outer appearance is more rewarding than inner beauty.
A tough learning for my kid! I really want to ask is the skin color worth the campaigns ?
Lakshmi Suryanarayanan says
Good post Prerna..Oh yes..this has happened to me too..always advised to manage to be fair. So much so that I was not allowed to go out for a week before my hubby dear came to see me officially..my hubby is very fair..?. But turned out he never bothered about color at all..lucky for me….but have hated this and have instilled in my kids that beauty of the heart is more important than beauty of the skin…
Prerna Sinha says
Yes…I think the stigma has been around for generations and I feel super frustrated about it. We are more obsessed about complexion than inner beauty,talent and goodness of heart.