“Mirror mirror on the wall,
Who is the fairest of them all?”
“Chubby cheeks, dimple chin. Rosy lips, teeth within. Curly hair… Very fair”
“Wanted convent educated, slim, fair girl”
“Black out, white in”
Fairy tales, nursery rhymes, matrimonial ads and the cosmetic world have time and again stressed on the importance of being fair. Been a while since they have traversed even gender boundaries (http://www.fairandhandsome.net; http://www.boldsky.com/beauty/body-care/2007/men-cosmetics-fairness-creams.html), with men being coaxed to look fair.
Not that the Indian market needs this much coaxing, it is steeped in this dream for a fairer world and abhorrent of anything dark or dusky (2011: The constant preference for fair skin has resulted in the market for fairness creams and bleaches touching Rs 2,000 crore. Of this, fairness creams account for approximately Rs 1,800 crore, while bleaches make up about Rs 200 crore of the annual sale figures. Source:http://www.tribuneindia.com/2011/20111106/spectrum/main1.htm). The latest ad that promises women fairness in private areas has taken the society by storm (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18268914). While many groups have come out against the ad, the sale of the product is on.
I was once told that all the dark girls are jealous of fair girls and so we are agitated by these ads. Looks like many people just miss the point. Someone being naturally fair is an interplay of various genetic aspects. The worrisome thing is to believe that fair is good, fair is desirable, fair is the norm and everything on the other side of the continuum is not good, undesirable and not the norm! Many who diligently use these fairness creams for over decades may feel that it is a matter of personal choice if they want to turn the skin from dark to fair and please the mirror on the wall. I wish to tell them, “you are beautiful irrespective of the color of the skin and learn to love yourself for what you are”.
Psychologists could argue the impact on adolescents, sociologists could see the societal anomaly this is giving rise to, feminists could have a different take and view this as oppression; the fact of the matter is that this is an infringement of human rights, an infringement of self-worth and an infringement of confidence.
It is disturbing to see this trend, see this loss of independence, witness education having little impact on mindsets. Not sure what can be done… But there sure are many questions that arise…
• Can we have a law that bans sale of such products and treatments? Or puts so much tax on them that the buyer thinks twice of the return on investment?
• Would we be destroying the desires of many by doing so?
• Does this have to be a part of parenting to teach your children that black, brown and wheatish are also colors, just like white is?
I do my bit by never buying anything that promises fairness; I’m happy being wheatish 🙂 But I guess my parents played a role in this. They never told me I am not good enough, they never told me my color determines my capability; they never behaved like my skin decided my self-worth. I remember an incident vividly just after my brother was born. He was the chubbiest, fairest and cutest baby around, having taken after my mom. We were at my native and an old grandmom passing by said, “maiya ta toh kaalo, pola ta khub forsha” (the daughter is black, your son is fair). Thank my stars that my parents are the way they are… the 8 year old me was in tears and my baba said, ” miki! kaalo jogoter aalo”… (miki, dark is the light of the world…). Thank you ma and baba!
Madhurima Das (MGMT)
What will I do with my years too?
then I am given extra sum,
Of course, I was only given a few,
what I didn’t know would always come,
My time doctored for the wannabe doctor,
propter hoc, I hopped for the proctor,
O,Rate they said,
Just to be laid,
And get me some irreducible factor,
I was, then, a Finnish, so stop I may,
Dosed were all, but doesed they?
I was then askanced and very sly,
after morn they saw and asked some why,
I plied again and in vane,
the Wind I blew made them insane.
T’was bad ’nuff some three ears,
Fraught with drawing fears,
Was marked by some irking reveries
Oh boy! ‘M.Sc.’s are messy decrees.
Srikanth Pai (ECE)