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Friday, January 25, 2008

Let's Be (UN)fair!

My mom used to tell me, that when I was born, she used to pinch me several times a day for several weeks, to make sure that I was born fair-complexioned and that that was to stay. Apparently, if you pinch a baby, if the skin turns pink, the baby is dark complexioned, and if the skin turns white, the baby is fair-complexioned. My mother is of a darker complexion and was reminded of this fact all her growing life with the implication that it would be difficult to find a groom for her.

As I was growing up, I got to hear words such as "beautiful", "pretty", "eligible" all the time just because I was/am fair. I often felt that my intelligence, achievements, personality, nature, never mattered as long as I was fair. I also got to hear the word "lucky" all the time, because now I would have a variety of potential grooms to choose from. Matrimonial ads never failed to stress how fair the boy or the girl was and that they in turn were seeking fair partners. Now is that really fair (pun intended) to pick or reject one's partner based on their complexion? I remember what a hard time my uncle had in convincing his mother about marrying my aunt just because she was darker. His words, "I want to marry a Black Beauty"! Her words, "But you can find someone better because you are fair!".

That suggests that the word beauty is paired with a fair complexion, amongst Indians. And when the beauty is not lighter, one feels the need to specify that the beauty is black! The result of this phenomena is that the not so fair people grow up with low self-esteem, body hatred, regrets, and spend a whole lot of money on fairness creams and lotions (which thrive on these people's naivety and play with their emotions).

Looking at the bigger picture, in the United States, there is a separate label of people who are not white. They are called "people of color". Blacks (African Americans), Browns (Indians), and Yellows (East Asians) all fall in this category. And often discriminated against.

The implications of this kind of an attitude are broad. And the reasons for the diffence in skin color are simple.
http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0211/feature2/online_extra.html
Skin color has nothing to do with bad luck and darker skin color does not mean that your life is potentially ruined. Let us try and accept who we are, make the others realize that who we are does not change if we decided to get ourselves tanned or bleached, and that it is not fair (literally!) to put darker people down!

32 Words of Wisdom:

Cinderella. said...

I so very know this.
My fiance is dark complexioned while I'm fair. My frens always tease me for that, and even go to the extent to ask me what will I do if have a dark coloured baby. Now how heartless and absurd is that ? A baby is a baby, Someone you have nurtured inside yourself for months, dreamed of her (yeah, for me it shall be a her) for years and then made her real. She is special,not her freakin' colour.
But I have never ffelt like telling this to my frens, no point wasting my energy. They'll eventually realise.
As for my to-be-hubby, its what he is inside that really matters to me.
And deep in there,
he's smart,
he's funny,
he's kind,
he's passsionate,
he's sexy,
he's a man.

I think thats more than enough.

Solitaire said...

@ cinderella, isn't it very sad that even educated people from our generation think this way? Then how can we proudly announce, "times are changing" when anyone questions the orthodox views amongst Indians? Happy that you think highly of your partner regardless of his skin color. And yes, my child(ren) will also be girl(s). Dark or fair, i dont care!

Lena said...

just today i had a conversation on this very point with my friend. When he said it is like that in India i first thought he was kidding because thats really absurd. Then he convinced me it is the reality and it makes me still feel how much wrong it is. Why to judge people according to the colour of their skin. Because for some of them being fair will be the only achievement in life. And then they will get everything unlike not-so-lucky-ones... Really dumb how we ignore the human qualities, inner world of a person, basing our judgements on the outer things.

DeeAngel said...

Very true !! sadly to say this bias exists among South east asians.. I think it would take at least the Millenium generation in India to overcome this prejudice..

I read an interesting article some time back regarding the color of human race.. A couple of centuries down the line it seems, inter racial unions will be so prelavant that the color of the human race will turn to Orange (a mix of yellow, white, brown, black).. Wouldn't that be amazing ;-) ? One less thing to bicker about !!

Darshini said...

I agree with everyone here.
Some of the most beautiful women in this world have either black or olive skins. There are so many white Americans who spend hundreds of dollars going to tanning salons, just to add some color to their skin.
Whereas, there are still people in this world who prefer a lighter skin tone over much darker complexions.
I just hope that someday, there will be enough awareness in this world and people will learn, that in the end, its all about the gene pool.

Cheers.

p.s. Sneha, I'm surprised you didn't turn out to be black and blue after all that pinching ;)

badshah khan said...

very interesting post..... this reminds me of my mom asking to use FAIR and LOVELY to get just a shade fairERRRR...but i was amongst those guys sweating and growing darker in the playground.Well yeah color actually doesn't matter in long terms but to start off I do feel a fair complexion HELPS. It is just a little bit of plus.Might give u headstart in most cases. but in the long run a better HUMAN wins the race

Preethi said...

When i was in college i was ALWAYS attracted to dark skinned men! Dunno why? Got married to a very fair man though! ;) But i can tell you that it was never ever a point to consider. It just happened. But what i've seen is for WOMEN colour of their partner doesn't matter but with MEN this isn't the case. Men always look for fair gals. I've seen this many many many times. I would really like to see some honest answers. lets c.

Solitaire said...

@ Lena, I have even more weird stories. I remember my grandmother being worried about her niece when she got prescription eye glasses at the age of 17. She felt that finding a groom for her would be hard.

@ Deeangel, orange??????? Wow! I cannot imagine.

@ Darshini, I think my mom was convinced soon enough before those bruises came on!

Solitaire said...

@ Badshah Khan, did that fair and lovely work? Did it HELP you move forward? Do you think fair people stand a better chance of getting admissions in reputed schools or finding a job?

@ Preethi, it very well could be that a dark man is not looked down on because men are supposed to be "tall, dark, and handsome" while women are classified as "the fairer sex". Also evolutionists say that when looking for a partner, women look for men who can be good providers while men look for women who can bear good looking and healthy children.

Darshini said...

Sneha,
I hope you didn't misunderstand me.. the comment about the 'black and blue' was only a joke :)


Its funny you mentioned the story about glasses. I've had glasses since I was 3, any my mother at some point in time worried about the same thing.

Solitaire said...

@ Darshini, no not at all!! I knew you were joking!!! I have glasses now. I hope my mom is not worrying!

badshah khan said...

u r tagged..so get on with some typing

Pri said...

u know...theres this family drama soap on air on zee called 'saat phere' which stresses on the same topic...though now it has digressed to no length...
i seriously think u would make a far better story/dialogue writer ;P

Sam said...

Oh.. how true you are!!! I remember reading a similar post about a year ago.. (link)
in a conversatin with teh very lady who wrote that article, she was telling me how her father is keen on guys who are fair as future hubbies for his daughters... and trust me that's such an infuriating thought for me... had a nice row with my mum and some other ladies of the family a few years back wen in a matter of joke they'd mentioned searching a fair bride for me!! jeez....
seriously, the obsession of people towards being fair is so age-old, though it seems like a natural reaction.. it is in reality a disease!!! a BIG time disease... one needs proof??
is apartheid good enuf??

Ashu said...

fair or dark complexion is a big deal in india even today.

And i liked all your 4 blogs. You write superb Sneha, cooool.

how do u write such fundooooo posts ? i am amazed!!!!! taking a bow!!!!!!!!!!!!

anuj said...

long time back I read an article in TOI stating the same, that it in India that we havent really accepted who we are .. a lot of demarcation based on the skin color .. it said we still look up to the british people and thats wht is in our minds .. tht d fairer the better ..

for guyz sometimes it still wrks out cause its said 'tall,dark n handsome' but for gals I can imagine its a big deal .. or so it is made ..

sometimes even I think to myself, I am still to learn to love someone for what she is .. not how she looks ..

thats a nice reflection on a crude subject :)

LostWeasley said...

@solitaire-- *cant think of anything to write. you are too brilliant.*

Mel Avila Alarilla said...

Hi Solitaire,
I agree with you 100% that our lives must never be affected by the color of our skin. As they say, color is just skin deep. What is important is what is inside the person. To me what counts is the beauty of the soul and a heart that is genuinely beating with love for his fellowmen. A fair skinned person may be beautiful on the outside (to some of course) but deep inside he/she may be hated upon by everybody. God never looks at the skin, He looks at the heart. Thanks for the very meaningful post. God bless you and your family always.

c e e d y said...

Ahhh this is just one conundrum of our myopic society....

Art said...

some people are fair and some people are dark. But the world is ALWAYS unfair. so we're all equal anyway.

Anjuli said...

nice one thr...

being fair is always considered superior, dunno why...

As far as I am concerned, have not been able to figure our my complexion yet..so giving myself a benefit of doubt, i use fairness creams religiously....lol :-))

Deepali said...

And like a friend once told me (in a different context) - you make up a small % of the kind of people of this country - you are educated, financially independent if needed, open minded (as are some in our families) and we still do / say IDIOTIC things like this.

It's really sad.

Ashu said...

lets not have somebody not from india draw conclusions abt how it is in India, India has moved on far ahead from the perceptions it had about itself in the foreign world about being a country of dark ppl, snake charmers and beggars.....

to know abt India first they need to know about real India and the power it has got now.

some people just live with their own preconceived notions.....

Solitaire said...

@ Badshah, Aye aye!

@ Pri, haha! Thanks!!

@ Sam, I hope you can stand up for your bride if she is a dark one!

@ Ashu, thank you so much. Where have you disappeared?

@ Anuj, thank you! I am glad you are willing to introspect.

Solitaire said...

@ Lost, thank you thank you!!!

@ Mel, you are right. There is a song in Hindi which says, "Hum kaale hai toh kya hua dilwaale hai". It means so what if I am dark, I have a heart!

@ Ceedy, one of many.

@ Art, nice perspective.

@ Anjuli, aha! So you and Badshah Khan have something in common to talk about...fairness creams!

Solitaire said...

@ Deepali, yes it is. We only get several degrees but that is limited only to the work place. Perspectives tend to remain narrow.

@ Ashu, and who is not from India and saying things that appear ignorant?

Sam said...

oh well... my family knows better than to oppose me... the advantages of being a first-born in the entire chain of cousins!! :D
and secondly, i never demand anything.. so if this once i step in with a demand, no one can reject!! in fact, my girl is a bit wheatish... and well... my family is quite cool abt it...

Solitaire said...

@ Sam, good for you!!

vEENs said...

I myself am "dark" complexioned :)
I don't care what the world thinks, I know I am just what I am. My sis is a lil more darker, and well my own outer [ paternal] family people told her as a kid, that your mom ate a lot meat.. of pigs/buffalos' etc [yuck!!!] and thats why you are darker.
She was a kid and believed it.

My mom was really sad that they did say this! really? how does it matter if she "did" [which she didn't] ate such stuff?

I won't go anywhere, I just look at my relatives and understand what I and my family have to deal with.

Everyday is a fight for our own survival, in this where do you have the time to notice your skin color? I am proud of my color.. and I am proud that my real close friends do not see my color.. but they see me a whole package!!

And you make me feel proud everyday of my own self... and i will teach my kid, to be proud of her own self..she needs to know.


hugzz!

Solitaire said...

@ Veens, :)
Yes, your color, height, weight, etc should not matter. Eat all the dark meat you want!

Preethi said...

first time here.. and a very interesting post!! :) color is such a major factor in our marriages.. I scoff at that.. but that is the fact!!!

Mampi said...

Yup, this is stereotyping again,
that fair people are pretty,
that dark people are not beautiful...