Monday, November 04, 2013

The Dark is Beautiful

It was a Sunday evening. My home resembled an amusement park. Small cousins were running and playing in the main hall. Men were busy watching news channels and discussing about the latest election surveys. But the women huddled together in the bedroom presented a different story. One of my aunts was silently crying and the rest were comforting her. They became silent and averted their eyes when I entered the room that had all the women in the age group of 45-70 years. I was surprised. I quickly hopped onto the bed and came close to my crying aunt. She tried her best to hide her tears but some drops were still visible across her cheeks. When I insisted further, she broke down completely. I came to know the reason later. Her only daughter had been rejected by a prospective bridegroom’s family based on the complexion of her skin-tone. The boy’s side announced that the girl is dark. This rejection is the third time since the last year. Every time she has been rejected because the other side thought she did not look fair enough for them.

Is it in anybody’s control, what colour of the skin would be when they are born? Is it a crime or a curse when a dark girl is born in a family? Since childhood, girls are taught to look beautiful and pretty. Not for themselves. But for beating those in the race of other prospective fair brides when it will be time for their marriage. It is instill into their minds that only light-skinned girls are preferred by future in-laws. Arranged marriages happen by exchanging photographs. 90% chances are that a girl would be rejected if she is dark.

In most arranged marriages, it doesn’t matter if a groom looks like a black piece of charcoal. Even an unshaven beard and a pot-belly is acceptable by the society. But a bride should look like a model straight out of a fairness cream advertisement. Sadly, a bride is first judged from the colour of her skin. 

Some of the credit goes to those Indian industries that manufactures cosmetics. Hats off to the power of the media. Many advertisements show how a girl gets her self-confidence back after applying a fairness cream and then how men fall in love with her newly acquired light skin-tone. They show men falling for fair girls and finally that becomes a well-accepted notion in the society. These advertisement gurus rope in models and actresses who look like they have been spending their lives by eating and sleeping in beauty parlours. Eye-catchy slogans are written. Get upto 3 tones lighter in just 5 days.  Get that pearl perfect fairness even in the sun. Light skin is in! How would a dark-complexioned girl feel after viewing such advertisements? Should she panic and rush out to buy those fairness products to gain her self-confidence back? In order to look into everyone’s eye and face the world, she has to look as white as snow? As in those who are not light skinned don’t have any standing in the society? By encouraging girls to have fairer skin at any cost forces them to go for products which may lead to harmful side-effects in future if not used in a precautionary way. But who the hell is listening? 

I am not light-skinned. I have inherited my father’s complexion. If both of us go for an audition for any fairness product, the director might have a heart-attack and faint on seeing our skin-tones. In my community, girls are encouraged to look after their skin way before they become adults. Apply this as home-made remedy or apply that new product in the market. So much so that if anybody utters, mirror, mirror, who’s the fairest of them all, the mirror should reflect back some white goddesses straight from the heavens. And why all the elderly women are so hell bent on making their daughters look fair? It’s because of the society around them that would look down on the same daughters if they are dark and reject them when they will look for their suitable marriage proposals. 

Once I attended a marriage of my cousin two years back. We were standing and enjoying the buffet system, eating too much and eager to lay our hands on every kind of food available on the menu. I was just about to start with my fourth Gulab jamun when an aunty beside me said “how dark this bride is looking! She wasn’t like that in her photograph.” I resisted the urge to throw my overloaded plate on her face. But look at the ironical part. Her own daughter, barely 10 year old was standing with her. She wasn’t fair either. But that didn’t stop her mother from commenting on someone else’s daughter’s skin colour. 

Going by the way our society sees a girl in arranged marriages, it’s best to apply chalk powder on our faces, parade around in our own marriages, show our smiling faces to the relatives till they nod in approval at our stark clear white skins. Everyone would think that we have spent thousands in some famous beauty parlours where once Katrina Kaif or Sonakshi Sinha too had gone. Light or dark, judging someone based on the colour of their skin is not only dumb but also insulting. The colour of skin is still considered to be an unhappy factor that leads to discrimination.  Deciding a future bride or a groom based on their skin colour doesn’t make any sense. The behaviour and character of a person should be given a priority. Why a fair skin is only considered beautiful? A dark girl too can sweep you off your feet. Because what is important anyway? A skin that would become wrinkled and old one day or a heart that would love you for eternity? Decide for yourself. After all, hum kaale hain toh kya hua dilwale hain :)

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