This post has nothing to do with Snow White, folks! Sorry! But it does have something to do with the fair skin myth that exists within the Indian community.
See, while the Western world really admires tan skin and enjoys laying out and going to tanning salons, the Eastern world relishes fair, creamy skin tones and avoids the sun like it’s the plague. Ok ok, I may be exaggerating a bit, but I know from experience that there is a slight bias in the Indian community towards fair skin.
And I’m just going to stop right here and say that the view I am about to present in this post is MY OWN. I’ve read a number of articles about this issue and have formed my own opinion. This is not meant to offend anyone. I promise.
When I was younger, I remember my aunt advising my mom to rub a chickpea flour and milk mixture on my face so that my skin would stay light (my mom only followed through a few times before she too realized how ridiculous the whole thing was). I also remember various female family members talking about washing their bodies with a lemon juice mixture in order to achieve lighter skin tones. For a long time, I remember thinking that the only way to be was fair. I sought out the shade like it was my job, I scrubbed the hell out of my body thinking that would help me achieve my goal of being lighter, and I used Indian beauty creams that promised “creamy, smooth, light skin.” WHAT!? Why did I subject myself to this? Was my family crazy?! I won’t answer that last question. LOL!
A few years ago, I came across an article in a local Indian magazine (Khabar) that talked about the fair beauty myth and the Indian culture…it automatically caught my eye. The article addressed the bias that is evident in the Indian fashion and movie industries, as indicated by models being rejected for “being five shades too dark” and actresses being rejected for certain roles in movies but then being called back for the sinister, vengeful roles. You won’t believe this, but there is actually an entire Indian soap opera about a beautiful girl that supposedly did something to shame her family, and now her character is 10 shades darker and a maid for some rich family. Not.cool.at.all! In fact, these models and actresses were (are) subject to the same things I was as a kid – skin lightening creams, home remedies, etc..
This Bollywood actress, Bipasha Basu, was once told she would never
make it in the Indian film industry because of her skin tone.
The irony of the situation is that a lot of these darker toned women are gaining international attention for their beauty, while people in their own country are shunning them. The other piece of irony is that a lot of the goddesses from Indian mythology are portrayed as being dark and lustrous; however, they are known for their beauty, purity, and feminine power.
Even to this day, I have friends and family members who will not go and sit in the sun in the fear that they will “get dark.” I know women who wear makeup that is clearly about three shades too light for them.
With everything else that we have to worry about in life, does “not getting/appearing dark” have to be at the top of the priority list? NO! It makes no sense! And this frustrates me so much because I truly do believe that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, skin tones, etc. And more than that, beauty really is something that radiates from the inside out.
I know that this whole fair skin myth evolved out of historical events, the Indian caste system, blah, blah, blah,but wake up, people, it’s the 21st century!!!! The color of your skin is not a reflection of your self-worth, your intelligence, how good of a person you are, etc. IT DOESN’T MATTER!!!
Before I go, I just want to stress something. I truly believe the Indian culture is a beautiful one that values a lot of wonderful things – family, education, faith, fun , etc. However, just like every other culture out there, this one is not without its flaws. And based on things I have read, India is not an outlier when it comes to the fair skin myth – other Asian countries also hold the same beliefs.
With that, I can’t wait to sit out by the pool in an attempt to darken my own skin by 2-3 shades! Take that, beauty myth! Who’s with me!?!?