After going through a few articles, discussions and mindsets I found out that colour discrimination is perhaps even older than casteism or even racism for it solely led almost all forms of slavery throughout the history that we hold. But it is not just an issue that troubled people in past, colourism still exists and our obsession with fairer complexion has placed a horrible burden on the people with darker skin tones.
Let us look at an advertisement that was produced by one of the leading Indian consumer goods company: ‘Two young women are sitting in a room, having a conversation. The lighter-skinned woman is shown having a boyfriend and is consequently happy. The dark complexioned woman lacks a boyfriend and is not happy. Her friend advises her to use a bar of soap that will wash away the dark skin that’s keeping men from flocking around her.’ And this is the problem with our Indian society.
The assertion of fairness has become something to be proud upon.
Recently when I visited a cosmetics shop with a friend of mine I realized how shallow and inconsiderate the world has become. They were selling concealers, a product that is used to hide spots, marks and improve the complexion.
Where the world should focus on wearing their scars with pride, it has become a place where we try hard every day to conceal our scars, complexion and precisely our individuality.
We grew up like this. In schools, the dark complexioned kids were objectified with words such as, ‘Kauwa’(crow in Hindi) or ‘Koyla’(coal in Hindi) and the group leaders and class prefects were the fairer ones.
And to be honest our obsession is not wrong if we look at the causes.
Popular cricketers and film stars endorse the fairness centered products and the way we look up to those people it is hard not to follow what they say. But the film star Nandita Das made a move against the craze and gave her support to the ‘Dark is Beautiful’ campaign which challenges the belief that success and beauty are determined by skin colour. She said as I quote her, “I want people to be comfortable in their own skin and realise that there is more to life than skin colour,” she said, adding that an Indian paper had written “about my support for the campaign and then lightened the photo of me that went alongside it”.
While our obsession with skin colour is not a one-day issue rather it has been an accumulation of factors owing to caste and culture. But I believe that the present day causes should be targeted first.
Yes, Indians are very racist and all this is deeply rooted to almost everything. But there is so much of assertion by society, magazines, TV advertisements, Bollywood and almost every part of our life that spreads the idea that fair is the ideal.
Although a change in mindset is always the best way to tackle an issue but that will take time. Till then lessons on self-love, individuality and racism is something that every Indian needs to be taught. And we need to realize that where complexion takes a back seat, intelligence and talents speak.
“Care not what they say about the colour of your skin let the brilliant light of our soul blind them.” -Mike Dolan