Dharini_18x12_FIt was a Sunday night when I had tuned into one of my favourite talk shows on TV.. The whole forum was getting ready for an ‘ all-woman’ talk show that day. It was a ‘ Beauty vs Brain’ battle. The show started with a simple question put in front of the women present there… ” What physical feature of yours do you like and what do you think could have been better in your looks?” 8 out of 10 women gave the reply as “A FAIRER SKIN”. Though a reply like this is not abnormal in India (with half the alliance ads starting with a ” Wanted: Fair looking girl” tag), it made me think a lot on how this complex starts among female children…. I started looking back at my own life…

When I started with my swimming classes at the age of 8, the chlorinated water had taken a toll on m
y skin colour. I had tanned a lot.. With around 3-4 years in swimming, I had gone many shades down and my mom used to tell me ” you look like a fisherman’s daughter”. As a kid I never realized the intensity of it. I would not say I was so matured enough to look beyond the ‘fairness-craze’. It was in my third or fourth standard when a new girl joined my school-she was really fair and cute and soon became the favourite student of every teacher. Everyone in the class wanted to be friends with her, including me. The fair skin did attract me. I remember my mom using the ” fruits give you glowing, FAIR skin” dialogue almost everyday. I was one of the best performers in my school. One fine day I was called by my teacher (I was the class monitor) to go and call good-looking FAIR girls to give away the mementos to the Chief Guests of the Sports Day. That time I just did my duty without any thoughts, but now when I think of it, it appears highly stupid and shameful. It was just a school sports day and any child could have given away that memento!!!! If you would like to know whether the situation has changed at least now, I am sorry- it is a big NO!! I just heard my aunt tell over the phone that my KG class cousin had been denied from the Annual day dance performance considering her dark complexion ( Might sound exaggerating but its true!!)

Now, moving on from my school days to college… Being in NCC was my childhood dream and I got to fulfill it during my college days. I was in the NCC Navy for two years. After the weekly parade of around 4-5 hours in Chennai’s scorching heat, when I return home at 12 p.m., my mom’s standard dialogue was ” I don’t understand why on earth you want to do this- losing all your weight and COLOUR”. Post-camp scoldings go on for days. The same was the case with my cousin who was in the Army wing. When we asked her 2nd standard brother how she was, the reply came from the kid as “katta kare nu iruka”  ( Black like hell)!!!!! A month after my Annual Training Camp was my sister’s marriage. I do not know what all my mom did to make me look FAIRER. All that I remember is enter a beauty parlour for the first time and then a pair of hands doing ‘God Knows What’ stuff to me.However my mom was happy that the beautician had done a good job for the money spent. My next venture was for a market research project with a month of continuous roaming in sun for data collection. Now I couldn’t help controlling my laughter when I stood in front of mom and this time mom was at her best- out came her reply ” for every shade of colour you lose, I have to give an extra gram of gold”!!!!!!!!! (Mom’s imagination was really great) All I could do was laugh at her innocence and the only worry she had about me right from childhood.

So… where does it all start??? At home? School? College?… To be precise- right from the time you are born. There are 3 standard things people ask/look for when a baby is born. 1. Gender 2. Whom does the baby resemble 3. How FAIR is the baby. I have seen the ‘old ladies’ of the family taking a look at the ear of the baby telling that is the shade which will be the true lasting colour of the child. So much discussion on the skin just a few hours after birth??? Not to forget, you always have your grandmom to tell you every time you meet her how fair you were (like a rose, lemon,flour blah blah) and how you have you lost it over the years.  W-A-I-T How can I forget the matrimonial market when it comes to FAIR skin? This is the place where it is all destined to…. ‘Wanted: Good, FAIR looking girl’. I am a Dravidian, how on earth do you expect me to be looking fair when the trace of it died far before in my genetic anthropology? Well, I had a perception that only the dark-skinned people have an attraction to the fair skin until it was proved wrong when a Kashmiri friend of mine (probably ten shades fairer than you and me) told about the shade demands on their side. All that I could imagine for a fairer skin tone than her’s was a bucket of white paint!!!!!

Are we really gaining anything out of this craze??  As far as I can imagine, the only people benefitting from this could be the plethora of so-called FAIRNESS cream brands.  Whenever I click on a video on You Tube these days, it starts with a fairness/fairness cum pimple/fairness+something advertisement (most of the times without the desperately needed ‘Skip ad’ tab). Aren’t these products capitalising on the weakness Indians have for a ‘fairer’ skin tone? Aren’t they making you feel insecure? Probably the only good thing that fairness products have done is to bring ‘Gender Inequality’- Yess, you have fairness products for men also these days!!!! According to their ads even Virat Kohli and SRK seem to have developed a huge fan base just with fairness products. Why are we behind this still? When would a change come? My dark-skinned friend at college had the best features possible. The comment she used to receive was ‘Despite being black, she has amazing features’. Why does that ‘despite black’ come in the first place?? It was ‘Black Beauty’ that brought fame to Anna Sewell and not the ‘White beauty’ that is sold in the market these days. Be proud of your skin tone- dark or fair, it is your identity. Time has come to change your views- to look beyond ‘skin-deep’ stuff. Wish for a healthy life style, physique and skin. Love yourself…. To all those running behind the so-called FAIRNESS market…..                                            ‘ STAY UNFAIR, STAY BEAUTIFUL’.

71 thoughts on “Isn’t dark beautiful???

  1. Amazing article! It’s sad that ‘fairness craze’ still prevails in India..loved your writing style..I liked the way you wrote about such a thought provoking issue using black humor, if I may say. For me ‘for every shade of color you lose, I have to give an extra gram of gold’ was the highlight of the blog! It’s just a line but speaks volumes. Keep up the good work!
    As they say ‘Love the skin you’re in!’

  2. Brilliant writing; dharini you have touched a deep chord in me and many others who challenge the per- occupation with “forms”…and colour is on the top of the list. I am proud of knowing you and here I am sending my LDH ( long distance hugs) for you.

    I will blog soon on this ; also share yours with all – love , raja

  3. A very good article. Reading it, a thought came to me.. May be a small change from the advertisers on fairness cream to skin-care cream might make all the difference!!

  4. you are such hypocrite…. you still believing in Dravidian – Aryan theory and that why you are talking like this. check your article for dravidian references. Skin tone is genetic, but the mutation took place during evolution based on may factors and mostly bu the climatic environment of the race. It was scientifically proven fact that humans have a tendency to be attracted towards white color and fairer skin tone which gives a pleasant feeling. Darkness or black sucks energy. we get terrified by darkness, heart rate increase. similar things follow dark-complexion. and nobody wants to see such a face in the morning ruin their day. So guys look for fairer girls whose face gives a boost of happiness by releasing enough serotonin. Goddess Lakshmi is described as Fair skin, and Her Man is described to be neela megha syama literally translating to black cloud(neela is synonym for both blue and black), means man work in the sun and gets darker complexion and women stays back at home keeps her man happy in all sense. Dark women are symbol of bad luck

    1. Latif Kumar

      1. If I had not known the Aryan-Dravidian history I would have gone on and on debating between these two without any point like what you have done. Pls note I have mentioned ‘ the trace of it’ which means I very well know how mutation changed the colour.

      2. Your whole comment shows how ‘backward’ you are in your thinking- Women have to stay back at home and keep man ‘happy in all senses’?? I mean.. Seriously????

      3. ‘Dark Women are a symbol of bad luck’- Is it?? A person with this thought is not even eligible enough to read this blog….. PERIOD!!!!!!!!!!

      1. I have given you the reason, when one sees some thing pleasant it gives pleasantness by secretion of serotonin which keeps body active by helping in fighting in free-radicals. so the person succeeds in what ever he does, by putting max efforts and interests. Thats called luck, and if u get upset by seeing an ugly face in the morning ruins the entire day and so is called bad luck

    2. Hi latif,

      Considering a face ugly is upto the perspective of individuals. For your kind remembrance every human have to start his day by seeing and washing his own shit which even can be considered a bad sign to start the day as per your views. If you think its an inculcated habitual of the day. Similarly consider seeing any trace of face to be a good sign. Its all about views not what you see through eyes.

      Best Regards,
      Subash V

    3. Dharini,

      Top notch

      Latif,

      Your comments do not have any reference. You consider in your perspective that dark women are sign of bad luck. There starts gender discrimination. What about dark men then?? A common man will accept Will Smiths and Obamas but not unknown person of African origin. See there is fundamental gender discrimination and racism in your prespective. Break that ice and read this blog again.

  5. your article reminds me of a fable “The fox and the sour grapes”… some people when they know the can’t have something starts pretending as if they are ignoring or opposing. Its called “denial”. That’s a boon of human psychology, with out which one cannot lead a life

    1. Good job Dharini. An amazing article. People who are intoxicated and obsessed with fair skin will have a vivid insight about it. Except few…

      Mr.Latif..
      I’d feel like a traitor if I don’t interrupt here. Are you a male by any chance…Your conception of bad luck on dark women, makes me laugh if you really are one. Real Men know to respect women. You’re overwhelmed on some bitter experiences in your personal life may it be…
      Respect women, irrespective of Caste, Color and Creed. Stop talking science and survey and of course yeah, your stupid psychology. Respect Humanity. Respect womanhood. Dark is beautiful!!

    2. I am amazed by the scientific arguments put forth by latif kumar. Extremely analytical & deeply researched with unshakable evidences to support. The following are some very scientific “statements”:

      1. Looking at some color is bad omen (Africa is a condemned continent; No human being there should try to look at each other in the morning)
      2. Women should be sitting at home and Making men happy in all senses! (Only senseless women would try to do any work, because it will make them DARK; the reason why women in America, Europe, Australia, and SE Asia are not dark is because they do not go out & work…☺)
      3. Seeing dark colored women in the morning will cause bad luck for men ( Latif needs to be on the Opra wimphry show with his out standing research)
      4. White skin women make some chemical come alive and bring good luck to men, and make them happy (as per a very scientific research done- just very recently -Americans and many European nations are some of the most unhappy people in the world; their white colored women must have migrated to some other world…or to Latif’s hide out)
      5. When you can’t get what you want, you behave as if you do not care, and it is called denial (May be the denial Latif is caught up with is this: he beliefs that white is a superior color & Race and can not accept that a darker human being can be equal & more in every possible way; so behave as if you don’t care for the views of those who accept, appreciate and celebrate multi colors ☺)
      6. Krishna is dark god. Neela megha shyama. And he is accepted by millions as god, good , positive. That is because Krishna was roaming the fields, working hard as a daily laborer in the sun. How about Rama? How about Neela Kanta ( Shiva)?research awaited.

      Latif – who ever you are: please be sensitive first before attempting to be “fakingly” scientific. Please learn to be inclusive before faking “incisive” analytics. Please learn the basics of appropriate communication, before throwing “allegations” & attributed motives.

      If that does not make sense to you, honestly, God bless you & good Luck

      Regards

      Raja

    3. Wah ,Wah Latif Kumar!

      I am amazed by the scientific arguments put forth by latif kumar. Extremely analytical & deeply researched with unshakable evidences to support. The following are some very scientific “statements”:

      1. Looking at some color is bad omen (Africa is a condemned continent; No human being there should try to look at each other in the morning)
      2. Women should be sitting at home and Making men happy in all senses! (Only senseless women would try to do any work, because it will make them DARK; the reason why women in America, Europe, Australia, and SE Asia are not dark is because they do not go out & work…☺)
      3. Seeing dark colored women in the morning will cause bad luck for men ( Latif needs to be on the Opra wimphry show with his out standing research)
      4. White skin women make some chemical come alive and bring good luck to men, and make them happy (as per a very scientific research done- just very recently -Americans and many European nations are some of the most unhappy people in the world; their white colored women must have migrated to some other world…or to Latif’s hide out)
      5. When you can’t get what you want, you behave as if you do not care, and it is called denial (May be the denial Latif is caught up with is this: he beliefs that white is a superior color & Race and can not accept that a darker human being can be equal & more in every possible way; so behave as if you don’t care for the views of those who accept, appreciate and celebrate multi colors ☺)
      6. Krishna is dark god. Neela megha shyama. And he is accepted by millions as god, good , positive. That is because Krishna was roaming the fields, working hard as a daily laborer in the sun. How about Rama? How about Neela Kanta ( Shiva)?research awaited.

      Latif – who ever you are: please be sensitive first before attempting to be “fakingly” scientific. Please learn to be inclusive before faking “incisive” analytics. Please learn the basics of appropriate communication, before throwing “allegations” & attributed motives.

      If that does not make sense to you, honestly, God bless you & good Luck

      Regards

      Raja

  6. Dharini, I really liked reading your blog, it depicts a sad, but true state of Indian Society. Keep it up..!! 🙂
    But i can’t resist commenting on one of d comments by a certain Mr. Latif – It is bcz of “hypocrites” like these that our country is still in backwardness at the world front. Ppl who have got THEIR own fundamentals wrong have no right to shamelessly post on random stuff which, in all likelihood, they dint even understand. Sorry Mr. Latif, but any sane person reading ur comments will get to know that YOU are the case of “sour grapes”.. May some enlightenment abt values, and not just face value, dawn upon you. Peace.

  7. Nice article,
    Its saddening that people attach so much priority to fair skin. I have always inquired whether choice of fair skin is all about stigma and a cultural attribute, nothing to do with biological and natural selection of best partner or a more competent life form. I think it is BOTH.
    Of all the attributes that people look for like fairness, wealth, intelligence, knowledge, physical fitness ,attainment, attitudes etc ,having priorities for achievable attributes is positive and constructive for the society.
    Fairness,wealth etc is a permanent attribute and cannot be competed.
    Being a fitness enthusiast i give much priority to physical fitness. You may have some other priorities like attitudes, intelligence etc. But that does not make one’s priorities mature than others.
    Similarly , if someone is “fairness-craze” does not always mean he is less mature, it may be just that its a greater priority for him/her. It may be his process of natural selection. It may not be socially beneficial and at times offending ( for me too ) but that level of freedom can be given, lest it is out-rightly offending.

    1. Thank you so much for digging deep into it Mr.Singh.. Of course if one wants to be fair, let him/her be, but please let them not make their priorities offend/hurt someone else. Similarly let them not become victims of this ‘fairness craze’ due to someone else’s expectations. Thank you 🙂

      1. Ms/Mrs Dharini Pal, quite humbly i must ask, have you written this article to vent your personal anguish or in response to personal discomfort and not stand for the principle of respecting differences.
        One could reasonably argue that only dark people talk about “the myth of white beauty”. Articles command respect and credibility when they focus on the principle not a first hand response. Hope you stand for the principle of respecting “differences”.

      2. Let me explain you, when someone is a victim of something, like racial comments, hate speech , colour , caste or gender discrimination etc, they realize the unsocial, unethical and irrational elements of it and speak and write against it, same as you did. This is how people learn and elevate themselves up the social ladder, which is a positive thing.
        But the wisdom lies in converting these into “principles of good social behaviour” which one should internalize and extend the same to all forms of discrimination.
        If suppose i am a victim of colour discrimination, i must realise the possibility of other forms of discrimination and must also stand against it. Hope you understood now. 🙂

    2. PROBABLY you are not sympathetic to or discriminate against certain type of people to which Mr. Nalin Kunwar belongs. He was my hypothetical character to test your principle. I insist on “probably”.
      It may be a stupid thing from my side , but being a rationalist of the likes of James Randi, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins and Bill Maher and also Dhabolkar , I like to highlight inherent hypocrisies in my friends, relatives and anyone i meet.

      1. Dear Mr.Singh/Kunwar

        I very well knew you were associated with Mr.Nalin. Only to confirm I asked you to explain more about your query and with that I could make it out. As far as Mr.Kunwar’s comment was concerned initially I saw it in the middle of my exams and then I read it. The sole reason why it was not moderated was because it was not pertaining to the blog’s content and was a different issue. Nothing else. Even if it is a simple thing that is deviating from the topic, I have not moderated. That is all my friend 🙂
        Enjoy your life and focus on you rather than being worried about what others think. It is your life after all. Enjoy it. God Bless 🙂

  8. Latif .. WTF .. who the hell are you to say dark complexion girls are bad omens ? Wat wud u have done if ur mum was dark ? !!!! Cha .. how can somebody voice such cheap thoughts !!!

  9. Well written Dharini…but I am amazed how some people have such highly discriminating thoughts and fail to find sense…I guess there are Gods (Lord Krishna) and Goddesses (Goddess Durga) who were not so fair but they are worshipped…wen pple don’t discriminate between gods, then y do they discriminate between their creations…We Human beings!!!

  10. dear dharini
    what a beautifully written piece. Black white or god heavens blue even …everyone has elements of beauty in their soul. one has to rise above such limiting body perceptions and truly embrace your own self be united as one people. period.

  11. Great article, thank you for writing it. I have daughters who are dark-skinned and it just enrages me when I hear “well-intentioned” comments from friends and family on how I can make them fairer, that are mentioned right in front of them!!! Another thing that completely irks me is that in every mythological story, in both cartoons and books alike – bal hanuman, chota bheem, amar chitra katha etc- the good folks, the devas are fair, whereas the baddies, the asuras are dark skinned and brown!!! I can totally see my little girls’ minds whirring and making incorrect assumptions…. Very frustrating! Sorry for the rant – as you can see it is a very sore topic for me!

  12. LOVED this article. As an Indian American living in the US, the constant comments I hear from my parents’ friends about the emphasis on fair skin drives me insane. I never understood it, wasn’t the entire point of India getting independence from Britain so we wouldn’t have to obsess about looking more like white people?

    The funny thing is most non Indians do not even notice the different shades of brown among Indians, to us we are all just brown. How can Indians be more racist than non Indians to our fellow members?

    Anyway, incredibly refreshing article. It is really nice to know not all Indians buy into the fairness craze =)

  13. Well written blog Dharini. Its a very sensitive subject in our society ( unfortunately) and you have articulated it well. Kudos. Keep it up.

  14. One of the finest article i have read on this topic, we the ppl of India create our own boundaries in every aspect and make that as our pride,
    and in skin color its sponsored by fairness industries and marketed by our media. i wish you to write more articles like these…….

  15. created this account to reply for ur post, very true post. when did u write this, i saw this so late 😦
    But not only dark skinned even people having fair skin, face such problems when their family members are more fair in colour than them. Beleive me!! they do.

    In other countries ppl had colour descrimination but not within their family but i think India is the only country where u are shunned by your own parents, family members than outside world. and i always consider our country to have high people than anywhere else.
    I dont want to sugar coat things, but fair skin attracts , it is true but fair skin alone doesnt attract. But people fail to understand this tease/scold/criticise dark skinned people and make thier life more miserable from childhood, i have seen lots of kids losing their confidence becos of such actions.
    But i wont accept the fact you mentioned about marriages. People are more looking towards character than colour nowadays, but as u say, i dont know how many additional grams of gold is thrown at the groom’s face.
    i saw a comment mentioning dark skin is bad luck, blah blah blah i dint even know what to think ,i dont know why so many hatred posts against him followed by, we are educated people we must know to ignore unmeaningful blahs coming towards us, i strongly urge u not to respond to ppl lyk them as the saying goes “trying to prove a truth to a fool and adamant person makes u one of them in the end.” i dont want my bubbly friend to end up lyk one of them.
    Expecting many more posts from you 🙂 tc 🙂

    my tag line would be

    “stay fair/unfair, but be yourself “

  16. Very nicely written!

    You were able touch on one of delicate topics and that too with sense of humour, and you were able to pull it off easily.

    I was able to relate with my surroundings now that I look back. I think rather than just being white beauty, having inner beauty matters more.
    Looking forward to your next piece of work.

    P.S – You did enjoy teasing your mum on complexion. 😛

  17. Well Said Dharini !!

    In a TV show(Neeya Naana), the topic was how much importance women gives to their looks. After long discussions among the participants, the chief guest put forth some nailing points like,

    * in ancient times, Tamil people never gave so much importance to fair skin. In literature’s poets praised the beauty of a girl based on how she looks and not by her skin tone

    *The ‘fair skin resembles beauty’ concept is promoted by MNC companies to open up a big market in India and that is why our country was awarded Miss World, Miss Universe in 90s.

    P.S : Namma oor karanga thiruntha romba varsham aagum 😛

  18. I think Latif is an attention craving human. Hence, he/she deliberately wrote whatever he/she wrote just to get some remarks. I think the best way to give it back to such people is to not say a word about anything he/she said.
    Saying that, its a good article and says a lot about how we perceive beauty. Look at all the matrimony ads “Wanted fair, slim, beautiful…”. Unfortunately, it will take centuries more to change that. I believe we can start the change at home. Teach your sons to respect a woman as she is.

  19. dharani i absolutely loved your article.. firstly the theme, then perhaps because it resonates with my life experiences too, but now i’ve gotten over this issue and become stronger.i really appreciate your writing style and wit.
    i hope this also helps other people who are being subjected to this ignorant cruelty and also to educate people who practise racism in india.

  20. Such a good narration. Even I wonder why people think of the color. I am not criticizing, even my wife says my son is dark. I do not want to bring skin color discussions with my son.

  21. Such a well written prose, covering all the important points a dark skinned tamil girl has to undergo, well, we all know there is even much more.. well, Congrats and thanks for writing this piece of neat work. Keep up the good work and wish you all success and happiness.

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