In my previous post I mentioned about the bias towards fair-skinned people in India. I have always wondered — can this be classed as a form of racism? Racism is after all, discriminating people on the basis of their race, which in addition to the traits and values, also includes the colour of their skin.
In India, since God alone knows when, there appears to be a preference for the lighter skin.
This can be seen through the Bollywood stars and the individuals in the fashion and modelling industry that have made it big. It can be seen in the matrimonial ads (Seeking: slim, fair girl…) that appear in the papers. It can also be seen through the products been advertised — products that make your skin lighter, and therefore, more appealing to the boy you want to charm or the boss you want to impress. Funnily enough, if I am remembering correctly, most of these ads are catering to women. (Not a surprise considering the value of the male gender in India)
With respect to Bollywood, while I know dark-skinned women are becoming more acceptable such as Rani Mukherji and Bipasha Basu), it still seems that the lighter skinned women are more popular. Take Aishwarya Rai. She is probably the Indian male’s fanstasy with her light skin and light eyes. But, she CANNOT act. Yet, she is making big bucks. She is known around the world. All for what? The most beautiful Indian woman? I’m sorry, but she does not represent most Indian women. And she is not the most beautiful Indian woman. I can list several others including Sushmita Sen, Rani Mukherjee, Konkona Sen….
Going on to the ads on telly, well, you are constantly bombarded by either fair-skinned models or you have ads for fairness creams. Yes, there’s the ‘Fair and Lovely’ or the ‘Fairever’ and I don’t know how many more have come up in the last few years. These ads depict the dark-skinned women as not achieving what they want, be it a guy’s attention or a job. But hey, once you use the cream — everything is attainable! In short, these ads spread the message that it does not matter whether you have brains or good values or are just a nice woman in general; rather, you need to be light skinned! Nothing else matters.
What is wrong with people?
Indians for instance, complain about racism but again, they are the first to treat light-skinned foreigners with more respect than they would treat a dark-skinned Indian or even individuals of African backgrounds. One example of this was the crowd in India calling Symonds, who is of Aboriginal background, ‘monkey’. Now I know there will be people jumping up to say the Aussies are racist and similar things — yes, we know Lehman called Jayasuriya the same but he was suspended and hasn’t done something like that since. You can see this poison being spread in schools in India as well — when a child enters kindergarten, unconsciously, the light-skinned child becomes the teacher’s favourite. (It’s only later they choose favourites based on marks)
In short, what message are we sending young girls? Not only do they have to combat being skinny, but in countries like India, they have to be fair. If not, the message they get from the television and probably some relatives, is that they are not going to achieve anything in life and are just a waste of space.
This form of racism is probably more subtle in that it happens within the same race. It therefore tends to go unnoticed.
But it has to stop.
Until next time,