FIFTY AND MORE SHADES OF FAIRNESS-INDIA’S GROWING OBSESSION WITH COLORISM

“Black is bad, white is good!!”Or so they say!

Prejudices pertaining to skin color, more commonly called ‘colorism’, are widely prevalent in all parts of the world. From the Africans to the Red Indians to the Asians, no ethnic group has been spared from this.

In India, colorism is amuch older social stigma than the ancient caste system itself. The upper caste Indians were fair, hence superior while the lower caste Indians were dark, hence inferior. Invasion of India, first by the Aryans, Persians and Mughals and later, the Britishers, also enhanced the prejudice immensely. All fair-complexioned rulers! As a result, the dusky Dravidians were made to feel inferior by their rulers. Hence, the yearning to look fair like the ones who dominated them!

That was then and this is now! While the whole world is trying to combat major body image issues like fat shaming, Indians are still obsessing over fair skin! The modern Indians have taken it to a whole new level where it has almost become an obligation to be fair-skinned! That too, in a country with many shades of dark!

Colorism

The prejudices faced by dark skinned children

The stigmatized dark-skinned Indian child’s prejudiced childhood, laced with the mother’s constant cribbing and attempt to lighten the skin tone somehow, boosts inferiority complex and the child is made to believe that the skin color is going to decide its future. In school, friends taunt as ‘kaalu’ or ‘kaali’ and teachers are partial, too. The dark one slowly fades into the shadows and the psychological damage has been done!

Who is to be blamed for this sorry state of every dark-skinned child in India? The society, the government, preconceived notions or just people’s mentality? Or those hundreds of cosmetic companies that are making big bucks out of selling prejudice in the form of ‘fairness creams’? When did India change into a land of coloreds from an intellectual one?

When did colorism become a tool for gender bias in India? For, dark Indian woman have a more difficult life than their male counterparts, who are supposed to be tall, ‘dark’ and handsome. From childhood taunts by neighbors, relatives, friends and most importantly, by her own mother, to being stereotyped as “Black Beauty’, the dusky Indian woman struggles with her identity! Her goals, achievements and success become nullified when she loses out potential grooms to her fairer counterpart just because she is supposed to be ‘fair’, slim and beautiful, as per a matrimony site!

Colorism

Colorism: A commercial standpoint

And the fairness cream TV commercials? Endorsed by high profile celebrities of Bollywood, they conveniently guarantee skin lightening in just 4 weeks along with the guarantee of landing your dream job only because you are fair!! Funny that it might seem, I call it audacious, brutal and in all aspect, humiliating.

And the Indian mass? They sail along and rope into the balderdash! This deep-rooted social issue is far from seeing its twilight days. We Indians need to decide whether we want to be a country of fools or one that of rectitude! It’s time to stop stigmatizing on the basis of skin color.

It is more important to be fair than fair!

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