Dark-skinned girl

I grew up in a society
Where the colour of your skin
Was a better indicator of beauty
Than the person within

Especially if you were a girl
On the day you were born
People would pity your parents
And in extreme cases, disown

“You poor thing”
They’d coo to my mum
“Not only is she a girl
But one that’s really dark brown”

While I enjoyed my childhood
Playing football with the boys
I still got cautioned by all
For it made me darker being outside

“How will you get married?”
The nosey aunties would demand
“If you play out in the sun
And have your skin so tanned?”

As I grew into my teenage years
The compliments came if my skin was fair
The less time I spent in the sun
Would ensure that grannies and aunts wouldn’t glare

I learnt that if you were dark and tan
Neither job nor love would you ever get
After all, what kind of man
Would want a wife dark enough to forget?

The ads on the telly
Bombarded me with this message
That if I used ‘Fair and lovely’
Many a job and man would I get

The other dark skinned women I knew
Described their colour akin to wheat
Which in my head made no sense
Apparently, it’s better that than dark-skinned you see

I caved around the age of thirteen
And tried those fairness creams a-few
Fat lot of good they did for me
As my dark skinned genes reigned supreme

I gave up my fight eventually
And resigned to that horrible fear
No job would I get, no man would want me
All these burdens I would endure

In my twenties I finally moved away
To a society with the majority white
And the funny story is that over here
My skin colour is viewed a delight

My light-skinned friends love my colour
And wish they could tan as well
They think it must be awesome to be brown
Be it summer or the winter months of hell

I no longer see ads telling me
That white is how we ought to be
In fact it is ever so queer
But being tan is the in thing over here

I realise that this dark skin of mine
Doesn’t matter to my employers or clients
And this chocolatey dark skin
Caught the eye of a wonderful guy

I am more accepting of my skin
Not just because of what others think
I realise how many colours look good to wear
The brighter they are, the better they seem

I love my dark brown skin
The colour of chocolate to me
And come the lovely warm summer,
I’ll be at the beach in my bikini

Those old nosey aunties still question my darkness
And with horror they exclaim and sigh
But I tell them proudly of how I love it this way
Every time I visit them with my head held high

 ***This has been written for One Single Impression Prompt 183***

Author’s note: I have always had a problem with Indian society’s emphasis on light skin to the point of constantly selling ‘fairness’ creams. I admit, I succumbed to the pressures occasionally and felt pretty bad about my looks only to come here to Australia and have friends envious of my colour! I understand there are other countries where fairness is valued too but I guess this is specific to India at the moment. I still get comments about how dark I have become by ‘well-wishers’ when I visit India. On the plus side, it no longer bothers me!  

Until next time,

Cheers!!!

51 Comments

  1. R.Bit

    August 30, 2011 at 11:05 am

    Love the post. (as always) I’ve had many of the same experiences and it bothered me a lot too but now I don’t care and I love my skin colour. I love getting a tan in the summer – despite my dark skin and I get the same disdainful looks when I go to India but I tell them, I’m gorgeous in Australia – and I’ve come to believe in that 😉

  2. Prathama Raghavan

    August 30, 2011 at 11:17 am

    Hi Psych Babbler,
    Love this post… I am from the not so dark category, but the kind that makes people in Delhi say “She’s from the south” if you see what I mean.. but I have grown up with beautiful women who have worried about their skin colour and let it define their sense of beauty… for me it was body weight..

    It all comes to the same… media images of beautiful are targets for us to reach someday, at least the way they are portrayed…

    You should check out this blog called Beauty Redefined   http://www.beautyredefined.net/

    You will love them.

    Glad to have read you.. will keep in touch

  3. Prateek

    August 30, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    I agree. Indian society see girl with dark complexion with a narrow eyes. Sigh! 

  4. adayinlifeofmom

    August 30, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    I hear you! I have experienced this myself… And now I get into arguments with such folks who think fair is everything…I refuse to let someone else get hurt the way I was once..atleast not in my presence…

  5. priyankavictor

    August 30, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Light skin is wayyyy over-rated in India. Too much so. I’m glad you got away from it all to a place where people see you for who you are and not be biased based on skin color. 

  6. Titaxy

    August 30, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    This is one thing that gets on my nerves too. SIGH.
    I remember you even did a post on this long ago…
    Prompt nicely done!

  7. Kunal

    August 30, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    You are beautiful. Just the way you are.  And you are super creative and smart, going by this post. I like this one a lot. A LOTT.

  8. sandra

    August 30, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    dark skin “bears” better age and sun….and it is just an external characteristic…we are all the same…!

  9. Comfy

    August 30, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    I am with you with every single word. That India still have fairness creams and ads to the same makes me shake my head in disgust now. I had my share of don’t go in the sun blah blah growing up but now I just don’t care.

    Loved how you wrote it.

  10. nidsitis

    August 30, 2011 at 5:57 pm

    Beautiful. I recently read a piece by Nandita Das about the same topic. Her piece is old. But so apt. Even more so today. However, Eye (Indian Express’s sunday magazine) did a sunday cover page feature on the same. Maybe you would like to read.

    http://www.indianexpress.com/news/the-changing-face-of-beauty/837538/

    I think its an interesting find. 🙂 However, I am slightly fair (whatever that means) and people mistake that for being beautiful and tell me Il find a husband easily. Maybe I don’t want a man who can only see that? Did anybody think of that?!

  11. Psych Babbler

    August 30, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    Thanks RBit! It is funny and sad to see that the skin colour we have due to being born in a particular country/culture is valued less in that place! I also found out one thing recently when I visited India…the foundation that they sell is all for white skin! I find chocolate coloured foundation here in Aus but not so in India…go figure!

  12. Psych Babbler

    August 30, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Welcome here Prathama! You beat me by commenting on my blog before I had a chance to do so on yours… 🙂 I so know what you mean about the ‘south’ thing (being south indian myself). Oh and don’t get me started on body image…that’s a whole other rant! It’s the photoshopped person that looks best in this day and age apparently. Thanks for the link…will check them out. And do keep visiting!

  13. Psych Babbler

    August 30, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    And now slowly even men are being asked to use Fair and lovely aren’t they? It still probably won’t be as bad as for women…

  14. Psych Babbler

    August 30, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Good on you Adayinlifeofmom…that’s all we can do…argue back! the last time I went back to India after having become darker in Aus (thanks to our lovely sun) I got asked by a family friend why I had become darker…I offhandedly replied because I love the sun and spend a lot of time in it. I think the look on my face and my tone was warning enough for them to shut up about it.

  15. Psych Babbler

    August 30, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Tell me about it Priyanka! When I went back in June, was just shopping with a friend and you know what? I noticed that all the foundations sold were for women with almost white skin. The irony is that here in Aus I find perfect foundation for my skin colour so it won’t show I’m wearing any. Go figure!

  16. Psych Babbler

    August 30, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Yep, I had done a rant a couple of years ago on the wonderful Fair and lovely and the like. They irk me so much. It’s unbelieveable but there are still ads in the similar vein even today. Sigh….

  17. Psych Babbler

    August 30, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    Welcome here Kunal! Thanks for the lovely comment…glad you liked what you read…

  18. Psych Babbler

    August 30, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    True Sandra…I agree wholeheartedly with your comment! 🙂

  19. Psych Babbler

    August 30, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Thanks Comfy! And yes, I can’t believe that they still have fairness ads when everywhere else in the west, you have tanning salons and creams and the like! And not only that, they now have fairness ads for men too. I’m glad we reached a stage where we don’t care about the colour of our skin but I do wonder about some girls who may never be okay with it…

  20. Psych Babbler

    August 30, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Thanks for the link Nids…will check it out. Lol and yes, maybe we don’t want men who just look at the colour of our skin! Ridiculous comments…sigh…

  21. Soumya

    August 30, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    I’m not fair skinned and that makes me more special. I’m way out of the ordinary. I so love this post 🙂

    I wouldn’t trade my chocolate brown skin for anything in the world.

    White maybe pretty, but dusky is always sexy!

  22. Psych Babbler

    August 30, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    I loved the last line of your comment Soumya! 🙂 Made me smile. I agree with you to on that not being the ‘norm’ of fair skinned is in many ways more special.

  23. Bikram

    August 31, 2011 at 9:51 am

    liked the way you wrote ..
    its the same with guys too but not to that level , if a boy is dark you can hear women say the same to them too..

    and the above comment .. as you said the last line .. Takes the CAKE 🙂

  24. Psych Babbler

    August 31, 2011 at 10:35 am

    Thanks Bikram…yeah I know the same trend is starting with men and there’s now Fair and lovely for men too…

  25. Richa

    August 31, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    I grew up with the same stigma but you know what gets me on the edge? The same people who comment on me being dark skinned, preach about how beauty is not external or physical! No really, the very same people who tell me off for going out in sun or not caring about my skin color are the one who when asked to “define beauty” (one of the weirdest question to ask) will go on to rant about how a person’s nature and their accomplishments matter and not the physical beauty. 

    I have seen this phenomenon so many time that now any one tells me that physical beauty doesn’t matter, I go into a rant mode. Like that recent blogadda’s dove real beauty blogging contest. Have you seen a dark skinned, overweight model for that company? Hypocrites..

    Sorry for the rant..

  26. Vishnu

    August 31, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    in our eastern societies, colour seems so much a part of our every day life. in western cultures, this kind of talk about skin colour is deemed what it really is – racism.

  27. Psych Babbler

    August 31, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    Richa, don’t mind your rant at all! And it’s interesting isn’t it how hypocritical people can be? Saying one thing at one time and making a totally different comment at another time. Re Dove, I think here at least they tried to use ‘real women’ and there were some ads with women of all colours, shapes and sizes. Having said that, it now looks like it has gone back to the usual models. Even with fashion shows, there is always a hype about ‘plus size women’ but it seems almost like a token gesture and then they are back to the anorexic looking ones again!

  28. Psych Babbler

    August 31, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    Welcome here Vishnu! Exactly…and yet, the eastern world is quick to cry ‘racism’ if something is done against them by the west not realising the amount or extent of racism within their own!

  29. Roshan

    September 1, 2011 at 4:27 am

    A lot of Indians say “don’t copy from the Western countries or that is just influence from the West”. In this case I would like to ask all Western countries, please don’t copy India.
    I haven’t been bothered about skin colour for a long time. If the girl is beautiful it won’t be because she is dark-skinned or fair-skinned. Skin is just skin.

  30. Shail

    September 1, 2011 at 5:48 am

    This is one prejudice which is still as strong as ever, unfortunately. Whenever I see ads for fairness creams I feel so damn annoyed. 
    When my sister was born (soon after birth) my grandmother was distraught and lamented about her complexion, dark. Of course eventually she turned out to be a fairer than any of us. But the fact that my grandma said that rankles with me.
    After my first delivery, people would remark on how fair my elder son was and add, “Ye aap donon se sundar hai’ (because he was fair, thankfully, now he is not that fair 😛 ) ‘Iska khayal rakha karo’ which meant I was not supposed to let him play out in the sun, Then when the second one was born, they started comparing, ‘he is not as fair as the elder one’! I put some of them in their place when they dared compare my kids 😛
    Really!! 
    Loved your take on ‘wheat’ 🙂 

  31. Soulmate

    September 1, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Tell me about it.. Since childhood, I have faced this issue.. Dark = ugly duckling… Plus no features.. no one will like me, marry me, find me worthy of anything…
    But now since I have made a life of my own, on my own, those people see me from a different angle and I hate them to the core…
    I specially abhor those matrimonial ads: Wanted fair, beautiful, light skinned, peachy complexioned gal, blah blah blah… To hell with such people…

  32. Psych Babbler

    September 1, 2011 at 11:33 am

    I agree with you Roshan — skin is just skin.

  33. Psych Babbler

    September 1, 2011 at 11:35 am

    I agree Shail…when I saw those fairness ads on my recent trip, I wanted to throw something at the telly. I don’t blame you for your anger about the comment re your sis and your kids! Would have been the same. My mum got told several times by my dad’s mum about how she wasn’t fair and my sis was loved because she was fair skinned (taking after my dad) while I took after mum. Sigh. And I got the idea for ‘wheat’ thanks to people’s references to ‘wheatish complexion’ to lighten a dark-skinned person’s looks in a matrimonial ad! 😛

  34. Psych Babbler

    September 1, 2011 at 11:37 am

    Oh…don’t get me started on those matrimonial ads Soul…that’s where I got the idea for the whole prompt…I knew some girls who were dark skinned but they put in their ads that they were ‘wheatish complexioned’ so that they would appeal to the wanted ad you mentioned! Gah! I feel like physically hurting people who say dark = ugly duckling and no one will marry you and all that shit. And I’m not even a violent person! 😐

  35. Anand S

    September 1, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Loved the post.. Completely true that Indians always see skin color as a prima facie qualification for everything. The society needs to change a lot… They should understand the dusky beauty like how the western society had accepted it…

  36. Beloved49

    September 1, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    Beauty and the color of ones skin in the end means nothing. Only what lies inside will last till the end. Nice write.

    Melanie

  37. Psych Babbler

    September 1, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    Welcome here Melanie! You are right…in the end, no matter what the person’s colour or how hot they may be on the outside, if they are ‘ugly’ on the inside in terms of their personality, that will take over.

  38. Psych Babbler

    September 1, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Welcome here Anand! Thanks for the comment! Glad you enjoyed the post…and yes, it’s about time people in India got over the whole skin colour thing! Even though from the comments, it sounds like many don’t care, there has still got to be a market for fairness creams and products if they are still advertising it so extensively….and that’s sad.

  39. Ayushi Bhatia

    September 2, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Psych Babbler, I simply am in love with your babblings, You’re so good and to my delight dark-skinned too 🙂 This is For us, for the brown-wheat skin tone 🙂 Isn’t it more seductive than the fair skinned ? 😉 Just saying 😛
    I’m so happy that you had finally moved away to a place where people die to get the colour of your skin 🙂 The perfect seductive chocolate 🙂 Jeez, am I using the s word too much ?
    Never mind please psych :), My happiness is beyond this comment, You express so damn well sweetheart 🙂
    I’m so stalking you now on 🙂
    And why can;t I comment with my  blogger profile ?
    How to do that ?

  40. Ayushi Bhatia

    September 2, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    I shared this post of yours on my facebook page 🙂

  41. Psych Babbler

    September 2, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    Welcome here Ayushi! Firstly, thanks for the lovely comment! And I agree, I have come to realise that dark-skin is way more sexy than lighter skin! 🙂 There are so many colours that go well with dark skin too…like red and purple (both of which I love!) as well as yellow and blue and white!

    Re comments, I’m surprised you couldn’t comment with your blogger profile given that you have a google account and should be able to comment with a google profile. I’ll check into disqus a bit further…I am sure I enabled commenting with google.

  42. Psych Babbler

    September 2, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    Thanks for that too Ayushi! 🙂

  43. Psych Babbler

    September 2, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    By the way, could you leave a link next time so I can check out your space…thanks!

  44. Ayushi Bhatia

    September 3, 2011 at 8:29 am

    http://littlemomentsofbliss.blogspot.com/
    Thats my little space.

    Disclaimer : Kindly do not compare my work with yours, I’m nowhere even near 🙂

    My friends on facebook loved this write-up 🙂 Even the fair-skinned 🙂

  45. Psych Babbler

    September 4, 2011 at 5:04 am

    Thanks for the link…will go check it out…and thanks again for the FB promotion…appreciate it! 🙂

  46. Psych Babbler

    September 4, 2011 at 5:05 am

    Also going to check these out…though I must say, I admire people who can write fiction because I so cannot! I can write poetry but fiction s damn hard!

  47. Anonymous

    May 8, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    Really nice post, Psych Babbler.

  48. Anonymous

    July 9, 2012 at 4:59 am

    Funny how on dating sites you see people darker than midnight saying Fair(which is wheatish) on theri profiles 🙂
    anywho, PERSONAL PREFERENCE! the love of fair skin is ancient!go read a book called “The politics of color among african americcans” and you will see amongst Europeans,Asians,etc the preference for fair skin! ancient egyptians used lighter skintone(yellow) for females and dark colors for males! there is a sex linked preference for fair skin! not only is light skin considered ore beautiful,but more feminine! this is in cvilizations all over! among Europeans, women were always fair. Its just recently that Europeans/American(Western culture) is sunbathing!
    but fair skin preference in women has always been ancient! even studies show that its biological!

  49. I Heart My Body - Over Cups of Coffee

    October 25, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    […] love my dark skin. Even though I grew up in a culture that thought it was ugly and needed to be […]

  50. Aparna

    January 13, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Hey! Loved this post. Could connect to it a lot having gone through the same “you’re dark and hence not beautiful” talks and advices being meted it out to me. But who cares. I’ve come to realise that black is beautiful. We are wayyy hotter. Cheers 🙂

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