ETA Post Script
This really weird and depressing news item appeared in Outlook last month. Where will we Indians, draw the line? Why are we so obsessed with being fair — meaning complexion, not just. Firang sperm? Give me a break!!!!!!!!!
If we obsess about the colour of our skin, there are other equally discriminatory, ego-mocking rituals elsewhere in the world.
Here in the Middle East 16 and 17-year-olds undergo invasive procedures to get that almost unnoticeable tilt to their nose, plump up their lips, curve their cheek bones… Who told them that they are not good enough without thicker lips and higher cheek bones?
I am surrounded by looks-obsessed folks out here. I know people who would skip a doc appointment in favour of a beauty parlour session.
How bad can our self esteem get?
Whether we are conscious of it or not, we are bombarded with messages that tell us we are not good enough, as we are.
Have you seen the Garnier wrinkle ad — where are the wrinkles on the model’s face? Why the hell do we have to worry about something that would be visible only under the most advanced microscope.
Yes, Dove runs real beauty campaign. But it is just a bloody ad gimmick, as the same company produces the mother of all self-esteem crushers Fair & Lovely.
Our hair, our face, our skin, our laugh lines… why is ageing or looking like normal human being seen as such a blight?
I have cousins, otherwise smart and reasonable, who are so hung up about marrying fair women. Why is fair equated with beautiful or even presentable? It’s common knowledge that fairer the skin, earlier the ageing!
Now the obsession with skinniness. Different races have different body shapes – a shape determined by nature after zillions of years of research on what would best suit the climate, environment and other conditions of the native region. Why mess with that?
I am not talking about slim vs obese. I am talking about anorexic-thin vs normal bmi.
Yet, even Indian stores stock sizes that would only fit a much smaller build like those from the Far East. Indian women have hips and boobs, and bit more in the middle. That’s why they look drop dead gorgeous in sarees.
If it is not how we look, then it is about what we will become. So bloody well give your child Horlicks, or woe behold he/she may be disinterested in maths and take up arts! What the eff?
What’s wrong with dark skin?
What’s wrong with child bearing hips?
What’s wrong with a little flesh on the booty?
Is it the end of the world if your eyebrows are not quite aligned?
And what the heck is the problem with a bit of fizzy hair now and then?
I am all for grooming oneself well, being presentable and doing what it takes to feel good about self.
But the sad thing is, the more obsessed we get with the way we appear, the more we invest in products and treatment, less happy with ourselves.
When O was born, the first (and last) thing everyone seemed to notice was the colour of her skin. I was ready to throw up my post-natal health food on them… why couldn’t they notice how cheerful she was with visitors? Why couldn’t they notice how amazing genetics is, and she has a mole in the exact same spot on the ear as her dad? Why couldn’t they comment about how healthy she was?
Nopes. Those were not as important as the light skin.
Because R & I are BROWN, and O is a deep beige, people openly wonder how I managed that? What did I eat when I was pregnant? Bleach and Fair & Lovely, pals.
I didn’t realise that this was having an effect on her till a couple of years ago. We were planning on adoption then, and were slowly introducing the subject to her… and O told me she didn’t want a brown baby. That’s when R & I consciously started talking to her about how flippant and unimportant these things were. How could I blame the 5-year-old? She was constantly hearing folks talk about fair equals cute/beautiful. That’s all that she saw on TV, except for the annoying Raven. Fair skin, light hair, make-up. Kids’ channels reinforce these stereotypes too.
I have always been partial towards dark skin. Give me a well-dressed guy with dark skin, a day-old stubble and a smile, I will swoon! I feel light skin only augments all your facial flaws.
Just look at the folks below… can you imagine anyone of them fairer and better looking?
PS: A friend called to ask if I have a problem with ‘light skinned’ folks. No, I don’t. My mum and 2 sisters are ‘fair’ and gorgeous despite not because of that. I just feel that a majority of us in India are not light skinned, and we shouldn’t feel like it is a disadvantage! Does it really matter? And as MG said how boring if we all looked the same. Fair skinned, silky hair, ‘perfect’ nose or whatever…