Does Fair & Lovely Subtly Mean Dark & Ugly?
The tragic death of George Floyd has swept the world with anguish and rage. India is no exception, millions of Indians took to social media to express their grief — including — famous Bollywood celebrities.
Oh well. What a joke.
These people have literally been selling racism for decades. Either in their movies or through endorsing horrendous skin-whitening cosmetics.
It’s fascinating how people forget, speaking metaphorically, that they themselves have been that very cop to the Floyds of their world.
So tell me, have you ever thought about them? The Floyds of your life?
Do you think they exist?
Indians are referred to as “brown people” all around the world. But, in India, some might take that as an insult.
I’ve had the privilege of living in both North & South India and — sometimes— amongst the elite. You’d be surprised to know even the most educated and successful people had the same mindset.
I don’t really understand how my skin has become lighter since I’ve grown up but, as a child, I was dark-skinned. My Mom would receive sympathetic comments from concerned aunties, “Oh Priyanka, your daughter has such beautiful features for a dark girl. Too bad she took after her father. What a shame.”
My initial reaction was shock. I was only nine. Huh? Did she just call my Dad ugly? I am definitely sliding sugar in her shoes. I hope ants chomp her feet off!
Well, I hadn’t really given physical beauty any thought until this happened. It only got worse from there. I wouldn’t dwell into it, but boy, it was toxic.
The funniest thing I noticed was when some girls from South India would give me a hard time for …looking like them!
Let that sink in.
That’s just depressing.
As if hundreds of horrendous skin-whitening products weren’t enough some girls in my school would drink red wine before bed cause of a myth that assured them they’d turn ‘magically white’ at noon. Not kidding.
This was scarier than all sorts of vampire bullshit they read before noon.
I was horrified and pretty confused. I liked my skin, was I supposed to hate it?
After considerable amount of research on all aunties’ concerns I came to the conclusion: You’re only beautiful or a ‘prospective future bride’ if you’re white. Try to be white. Start young. Mop your face with powder!
Little me was enraged. I’d call aunties ‘shallow’ in their face and give everyone a piece of my mind, irrespective of their age. My Mom was inwardly pleased at my bow-tied snide remarks but outwardly perplexed. Sorry Mum.
In the end, something good came out of all this: I rejected all cosmetics. How else do you expect a kid to rebel?
I sided with my Dad and we both still use our classic and only jar of cream: good ol’ Nivea, much to everyone’s disappointment.
Well, for me, maybe. But not for a billion others.
Let’s take a quick look at some cases with shameless colourism written all over them.
- During Annual Functions dark-skinned students are asked to dance behind fair-skinned ones. This is not news to me, it does happen.
The following was shared by Muna Beatty, an anti-colourism activist, while talking about her brown-skinned daughter.
For example, when her school put on a performance, fair skinned kids were placed at the front regardless of their heights, and darker skinned children were all made to stand at the back, including my daughter. It broke my heart.
What did her daughter do to deserve this treatment?
2. Some people are driven to take their own lives owing to the permanent psychological damage colourism does.
Imagine if you’re this person for a moment.
When you’re at home? Your loved ones keep humiliating you.
At the movies? The actors are mocking you.
Went for a jog? The billboards are taunting you.
Wouldn’t that haunt you?
Here’s another one:
Gurgaon: Woman commits suicide as husband taunts her for black complexion.“Virendra used to taunt Pooja on her skin colour, saying ‘You are black, so you will have to bring money from your parents’,” victim’s sister Sneha told reporters.
For some people marrying a dark-skinned woman means having a free pass to ask for unlimited money in dowry. The bride’s father cannot refuse since marrying his dark-skinned daughter is seen as a favour.
Doesn’t that disgust you?
3. Some people are declined jobs due to their skin colour. And no, I’m not referring to the Entertainment Industry right now.
Here’s an excerpt from the book, ‘Discrimination and Diversity’.
In the western state of Maharashtra, about 100 tribal girls, who were trained to be air hostesses and cabin crew under a government scholarship programme, aimed at empowering them, were denied jobs apparently because of their dark skin colour. Only eight of them landed jobs but only as ground staff.
Does this mean the joke is on us?
Was the Fair & Lovely commercial targeting dark women; aspiring to obtain such positions — actually right?!
Who is behind this deep-rooted prejudice against dark skin?
Britishers. Yet another tohafā.
During Colonialism, Britishers needed something — anything — to justify their behaviour towards us. And dark skin was a perfect and permanent excuse.
You will be my slave cause you are inferior to me. Why? Because of your skin colour! It’s ugly and obnoxious. Is that clear?
This is how the brainwashing begun. All artworks were designed to praise and compliment: the European skin, their sharp features, this is what the slaves were supposed to look up to. A mere illusion.
Isn’t that a neat plan?
Like silly little children, they convinced us to crave for a flavour of ice-cream that simply did not exist in our world. For two hundred damnable years.
An impossible desire.
Guess what? We’re still madly chasing it.
Before you get too patriotic, let me remind you, if Britishers treated us like an inferior race then, in return, we treated the Africans as an inferior race. In fact, we still do! Not cool at all.
Are men immune to the colour bias in India?
It’s true women were more likely to be a victim of colourism in our society but times are changing. Today’s men are equally shamed because of their dark skin.
A lot of Indian men secretly stock skin-whitening products.
Jokes apart, if women have the illogical Fair & Lovely girl, the average Indian man has superstar Shahrukh Khan to single-handedly crush his confidence by endorsing the insanely racist ‘Fair & Handsome’. Ugh.
One of my South Indian friends was rejected by a girl for being ‘too dark’. He’s a gem of a person with an amazing personality but that did not matter. He’s also a hypersensitive man — the rejection wrecked him. Now he keeps ordering skin-whitening products online.
So, now that you’ve familiarized yourself with the Floyds of our world, do you have an answer yet? Where does it all stop?
Why exactly am I enraged?
Glad you asked.
I’m enraged because racism is so openly practiced in India. It’s shocking!
Indians are extremely vocal about their unjust behavior towards dark-skinned people since it’s no big deal. Just another day.
What makes them so strong?
Every little ‘harmless’ joke you make on skin-colour, every racist actor you glorify, every skin-whitening product your silence endorses.
It’s making these monsters invincible.
The cost of our silence is huge.
Please, speak up.
The skin colour of a person should be the least of their worries.
We’ve already built a viciously colour-conscious world for our sisters and mothers.
Let’s not disappoint our daughters and sons at least.