I always try and avoid walking in the sun attempting to cover even the little skin that’s exposed. I know on the other hand there are people who love the scorching sun, its heat brushing all over their bodies and the lovely after effect- ‘tanning’. This is usually a scary word for most of the Indians. The cosmetics market is undoubtedly deep-rooted and booming here in our country due to the undisputed love for fairness. Now there might be many who have started loving their skin the way it is- but in the retrospect, there was always a time when darker skin tone had been looked down somewhere in their life by a random moron! This surely builds in bias and unwanted prejudices unknowingly in us which is hidden at various depths in our subconscious mind with various fetch level access. For a few the fetch levels are fast and for a few it’s slow. Nevertheless- ‘It still exists’!
Young girls get so obsessed with ‘fair skin’ and this could be due to peer pressure, unwanted comparisons, or vague comments. I recollect an extremely funny incident that happened during my school days.
Reading a random mystery book in the library- Meera whispered-” I know something that can make us all fair in thirty minutes -let’s do it today after school”. She was certain about her idea and passed on her vibe to all the four of us. After the class, we headed straight to Meera’s house to find the secret life-changing ingredient. The moment our crazy gang reached our gang leader’s apartment- as expected the gang leader took charge and rushed into the kitchen and came out with a blood-colored thick paste which she confidently smeared onto her face and then convinced us to follow her directions. She had clearly instructed us not to apply it anywhere close to our eyes and nose. We silently nodded in agreement – Meera is from the studious lot in the class and she couldn’t go wrong and hence we became her obedient followers! After a few minutes, we felt a slight tingling sensation on our face. We were overjoyed as if we had successfully completed one of our chemistry lab experiments. Trying to stay calm when the ceiling fan dried the unrevealed paste on our faces, I could sense we all had something running in our minds. Meera took control of the situation and commanded-” Girls- it might sting, it might be scalding -be patient- the paste is working its wonders on your face”
Involuntarily tears rolled down our cheeks. I felt like my face was on fire! The pain and the agony forced me to shout out like a possessed girl-” Is this some freaking red sandalwood paste that has past its expiration date?”. The moment Meera whimpered that it was Kashmiri Red chilly powder- All of us scattered to find washbasins and toilets!
Taking a very local example of a parlor that I usually visit for my normal waxing sessions. The immodest parlor lady usually starts off her work by wearing the dermatologist’s hat- she stretches my skin, pulls it, examines it as if she’s searching for something on it and finally, she sulks into saying-” Your skin is tanned and dull”. She was in no mood to listen to me even when I was crystal clear-”That’s my skin’s color and I hardly go out in the sun!”.
I got a hint that she was just interested in upselling the expensive fairness- creator(as she claims) Rica wax however her approach made me feel like the most disgusting thing on the earth at that moment. Now, the satirical bit was that she needed the Fairness Rica wax the most!- Wait — I’m not getting into colorism- this is an unintentional woman’s quick reflex when stroked the wrong way.
Coming back to the waxing saga –
Gleamingly happy after ripping off the black hair on my hands- she acted like a surgeon who has finished a surgery successfully and exclaimed-”Your skin is so much fairer and better now”! I agree the hair wasn’t good, but the color of my skin was perfectly fine for me. Somehow the lady strongly believed she used her magical wax to make me fairer! I just let her live that lie.
The Indian matrimony websites’ are also fairness obsessed- the fairer ones have better prospects but a deadly combination of being rich and fair will surely top the list. A loud shout out to the Photoshop and beauty apps that do their best to pep up the to-be bride or groom’s profiles.
I laugh my head off when I watch the similarity between the stain remover/washing powder’s ads and the fairness cream’s ads! The concept and graphics are indistinguishable.
I know the examples that I have quoted here were quite funny- but the actual situation isn’t! When I watch videos of young girls getting hurt due to racism, intense colorism in intricate families, career opportunities being missed due to their skin color and so on- it’s a strong message as to how some empty-headed crowd stoops down to look at brown or dark-skinned people even now.
Things are surely changing where top-level designers wish to showcase dark-skinned models as their show stoppers, dusky actresses having successful careers, certain beauty standards being reset — yet, if you think deeper- they’re all meager examples? Somewhere we all have the silly concept ingrained which has been passed on as baggage from the unknown. We just need to break the chain and douse the fire to stunt ‘Self-loathing’ — the greatest threat!