Our Nasty Obsession With Fairness Gets Better With Every New Endorsement

You may not find genuine things required in your day-to-day life at a ration shop, but you’re bound to find a tube with a picture of a fair woman smiling at you.

You may not find genuine things required in your day-to-day life at a ration shop, but you’re bound to find a tube with a picture of a fair woman smiling at you.

The shopkeeper, who has an inventory in the store in the backyard, comes to your rescue when you say I am allergic to this one. Don’t you have the other one? You name it and he has it- from Olay to Garnier (for men as well) to Ponds and our very own Fair & Lovely.

I was thirteen when I got selected in the women’s Volleyball team in school. The youngest and shortest, hardly able to strike a correct service, I had no clue why did the coach choose me. That did not matter much. My parents did not believe that I had been selected in the school team, until they saw my jersey. It came more as a shock to them, than as a surprise to me.

I used to have a visibly fair skin until the practice sessions started. Unaware to the fact that sun could cause tanning, I enjoyed all the practice sessions of mine. Me and my seniors would stay back at school to take the third trip. We would play for some time, take time out, go to the canteen to have refreshments and then resume playing. We had been practicing for more than a month for an Inter-district championship to be held in mid September.

On the day of the championship, we had to stay back whole day as a number of teams from the neighboring districts had arrived and we were put in the last but one slot. Though we didn’t win the championship, but we were declared as the second runner up. I came home happy and ran around with my certificate to show it to everyone. It was my birthday the next day. Quite obviously I couldn’t wait to show it to my friends, joining me for my birthday party. Though my friends were equally happy for me as I was, a neighboring aunty had something more to say. She didn’t really have anything to say about my certificate, but when she saw the amount of my tanning, there was just one thing she said- Aise kaali hoti rahi, toh shaadi ke liye koi ladka nahi milega (If you keep getting dark at this rate, no guy will marry you).

I had just turned fourteen. One meeting on my birthday and you tell me this! I did not even know back then that you need to be fair and beautiful to get married, because my parents had never really cared about anything of this kind. I am still wondering what would her kids have to go through. That was the first time, I faced a racist remark, personally. As I grew up, I faced a number of other instances where people told me if I needed to resort to a particular brand of fairness cream. And yes, I did try out a couple of them then, but never on a routine note.

The advertisements clearly support the ill, personality-sucking beliefs, most of which says that the bride has to be very fair or visibly fair. You don’t even stand a chance if you’re dark. Connectively, I am still confused about the relationship between a woman’s complexion and the prospects of finding a life partner.

Many creams that claim to brighten your complexion within a week or two, have been reported to be using high levels of chromium, mercury and other carcinogenic substance that could harm your skin, irreversibly. Is it not disheartening to know, that more than half of the educated population use these creams only to support the ill functioning prejudices of the society?

A number of celebrities like Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Katrina Kaif, and not to forget, the brand ambassador of Fair’n Lovely, Yami Gautam have been talking on behalf of these fairness creams, only to enhance the consumer market and keep the racist mindset prevailing. They did not even spare the guys, as the latest to join the fairness bandwagon is Shah Rukh Khan. On the other hand there are also celebrities like Nandita Das who launched a campaign named ‘Dark is Beautiful’ to educate Indians who advocate fairness, and Kangana Ranaut, who refused to endorse a fairness ad, saying that if she did she would make fun of what’s given to you by nature.

We need to accept what’s natural. It’s our responsibility as the young, educated class to see to it that the ill prevailing customs in the society are brought to an end. If not us, then who?

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