Last night after switching through multiple channels and mercilessly harassing the remote, an advertisement piqued my interest. A man told his daughter to get married as soon as she can. Disappointed and upset a girl miraculously came out from nowhere and handed her a cream. She applied it and instantly in the next scene became insanely white. The next moment you see her walking up to her father and saying no for an impending marriage to chase her dreams. I swear my face twisted into multiple expression of disgust after seeing this. This is not all. Our advertisements are filled with numerous companies stating that their product will give you the desired white skin. But what is desirable? Isn’t it decided by people like you and me? The advertisement suggested the commonly held notion that dark skinned people are less desirable than white skinned ones.
Indian’s obsession with white skin goes back to the time where fairness was associated with people belonging to higher social caste and class. British colonizing India added more to this societal norm. Britishers were white skinned people and for obvious reasons, considered superior to us. Hence, their colour in itself became a notion of social superiority.
Matrimonial websites and newspaper columns highlight Indian’s obsession with fair skin. It is worse for a woman who is repeatedly told that fair skin colour is the key to attain a good husband. Nearly every women’s profile would describe her complexion as “fair” or the so- called “wheatish”. This obsession is quickly seeping in Indian men’s conscious as well. Nowadays, we have fairness creams for men as well to cater to the growing demand among men. Lost are the days when these societal chains only crushed a woman’s self esteem. Reluctantly men are also becoming a part of this vicious circle. Bollywood, too, is doing its bit in taking this obsession to new heights. There is a sudden increase in the number of foreign models turned actress in our Hindi Cinema. Audience have a sweet tooth for foreign imported extra white women who cannot even speak two words in Hindi properly but have an immense popularity among the masses.
According to a news report, India’s whitening cream market surged from $397 million in 2008 to $638 million over four years. Well, whitening cream industry is definitely cashing in on our fascination with fairness. Anyway, this is the case of India. In west, people have a liking for dark skin. They especially sit under the sun for hours to get a tan or spend an insane amount of money like us but for a darker skin. Ironical, isn’t it? This phenomenon of colour never seems to cease. Our fixation with colour has made us forget about the essential need to perceive someone as a human. A colour is just a means to someone’s outer appearance. What is inside is only known when you remove the veil of criticism on the basis of colour. Even when we as a society have attained so much, we are still not able to curb the infatuation with colour. The notion that only fair is beautiful is out rightly wrong. If we take ourselves literally, then we all have same bones, same nerves and even the same colour of blood. If nature doesn’t differentiate amongst us, then why are we adamant on drawing the lines of segregation? I believe and accept that beauty has various parameters but I do not include colour to be one of them.