Thought and Reason Wordless Wed

Fair or not?

I started this post as a lazy Wordless Wednesday but simply couldn’t NOT write a couple of lines about it!

Do take a look at the picture below ….

Is this fair?

And we don’t spare even London!


What is with our Indian mindset that ‘fair’ people are automatically considered ‘good looking’? Why this obsession with fair skin?! I have never understood this!

I know of so many girls/boys who are praised for their ‘beauty’ ONLY because of their skin colour (I say that because they utterly lack other features!). Just the same, I know some people, who are truly beautiful, but are not considered so simply because they have dark skin!

Why is someone with a ‘milky-white’ or ‘wheatish’ complexion considered to be a better human being than someone who is dusky or dark (worse!!)?

Why is a fair-skinned person rated higher on the matrimonial scale than a dark-skinned person??!!!

Westerners go all our to get a ‘tan’ and we layer ourselves with skin-lightening creams!

On my last trip to Chennai, a nice elderly gentleman mentioned that he was trying to find a groom for his daughter. His exact words were ‘She is very fair and good-looking, like your relative xyz’. I was amazed at his simplicity, naivete and crudeness all rolled into one. I don’t blame him. That is simply, a part of our culture! We are ignorant enough to assume that someone who is fair is indeed more beautiful than someone who is dark!!

I wished him well. And also wished his daughter had more to her than just fair skin! Like perhaps some inconsequential things like confidence, education, capability, etc.

I met someone the other day, who said something at the opposite end of the spectrum, but that was, in essence the same! This acquaintance casually mentioned a distant cousin who was an extremely intelligent and wonderful person, but was unable to find a bride because he was ‘extremely dark’. Well, what can I say! Had this been the ‘2000 pounds’ scene from ZNMD, I would have just laughed! But this is real.

We just seem to be obsessed with skin colour! Something makes us believe that being fair is an achievement in itself!! There is some underlying factor that makes us proud of our light (read: ‘superior’) skin-colour? I would really like to know what it is.

Is this ‘fair skin’ purely an Indian obsession? Or is this rampant world-wide?

Please, do share what you think!!

26 replies on “Fair or not?”

ooh!! I can totally relate to this post! Especially the last line – “being fair is like an accomplishment!!”
I dont understand the obsession… I dont care for it and I see it here too amongst the Indians…
I’m thinking its an Indian thing, but then – the African americans, the Hispaniacs don’t have it any easier here… and there is very subtle partiality here too.. like in my neighbourhood the African American population is in single digit percentages…
Racism , I agree, is wide-spread, Pix. But like Prats rightly said, people forcefully try to curb it and evolve into better people. We Indians on the other hand, insist that skin colour is the biggest deciding factor about the way a person is looked at/treated in society!! Also, Pix, tell me, from what you see, do the locals there differentiate among themselves as who is fairer than the rest?

No Pallu, they don’t differentiate most of the time….
And that is very different from our culture, right? We openly and pointedly discriminate between people!!
And yes, I agree that most people try to curb it… But that subtle partiality does exist and some “white” people here too come with a chip on their shoulder, that’s not as visible as we see it back home, but it’s there… And sometimes very apparent. Hmmm… scary thought Pix. Infact what scares me is bottled emotions!

Oh always a problem..but even in London..tell me something who the hell in London would use fairness creams!!! *astonished*
LOL! Are you saying people in London are fair? Or people in London are not typical Indians blinded by skin colour. Btw, the locality of this particular store is extremely Asian.. lots of Bangladeshis, Pakistanis and Indians who live here. I suppose the fair-n-handsome creams are being targetted at them!  
We Indians are super obessessed na….would you believe I have relatives who tell me that my 3 year old is ‘darker’ than Hubby and I, that I need to do something abour it RIGHT NOW 😦
Oh crap!! Give atleast the kids a break!!!

Haha, I had an almost opposite problem. Ten days after my kid was born, I was told by a relative, “He ils very fair – maintain it. Use coconut oil. My son was also born fair, but I didn’t do enough to take care of it and he is now dark”.
Gosh!!!!!! Is that ignorance or what?!

You can be nice, even if you are not fair. That is about the best compliment you can hope to receive if you are dark. 🙂
Bang on, Banno!!!! Bang on!

It’s there everywhere. Oh, and don’t think it’s just Indians; it’s the same in the West too – whether they use fairness creams or not is a different thing.
Ash, I wonder if westerners so strongly differentiate between themselves keeping skin colour as the primary difference!! Like we do in India! In India, it is far too obvious and rampant. Its like casting people into a black box and a white box, treating the former as second-rate people and the latter as superior folks. 
This acquaintance casually mentioned a distant cousin who was an extremely intelligent and wonderful person, but was unable to find a bride because he was ‘extremely dark’.
It’s very much a reality. And in this case the person in question is a guy. I know personally of a lot of girls who are otherwise wonderful people, coming from stable families, intelligent and educated, with a warm sense of humour – baving trouble finding a ‘suitable’ partner just because their skin is dark. Sigh 😦
Can I just say ‘this happens vonly in India’!! 🙄

We don’t even leave our gods and goddesses alone! Krishna was supposed to be black. Not dark, BLACK. Hell, the word “Krishna” in Sanskrit literally means black. But what do we do? We paint him blue instead! Same will all the others. Arjun, Draupadi…they were all dark. Draupadi according to the Mahabharat – “Black as a raincloud.” And they turned her into a fair woman in the famous Mahabharata remake that every Indian knows about.

I know a really dark girl here in the US – very pretty. Indians here call her “kali.” But she’s hot stuff among the Americans who look at her as some exotic beauty from the east! So even when there’s an attractive dark skinned woman around, Indians dislike her even though the truth is something else entirely.
Bhagwad, when I wrote the post, I actually deleted some lines that I had written about Krishna and Draupadi, because I wanted to say even the Gods we believe in were dark. Only after reading your comment did I realise, that we (our society) has gone a step further and spared not even the Gods, and turned them from black into blue! What does that speak of us and the culture that we are so proud of!!
I like what you said about your friend in the US. It is heartening to see that atleast some sections of the world realise better than to go merely by skin-colour!

I completely agree. My cousin is a very attractive girl and she has dusky complexion. She has lovely features and a petite figure, so (IMO) the dusky complexion only adds to her allure. Her mother spent half of the kid’s life making her miserable and think that she was a lesser valued human being just because she is not fair 😐 until she eventually learnt to outgrow it. Fortunately today she does not suffer any self-esteem issues.
I have shouted at my aunt for this countless number of times. Even today she is obsessed with this fairness bit.
It’s truly sad….
That is so sad, Ash. What is really depressing is the fact that weak parents, instead of making us confident of ourselves, pass on their insecurities to us, and make sure we drown in them!

I think it is rampant worldwide… Guess the notion of whites being superior to blacks has originated from there but then they have consciously and forcefully curbed it…. I think the Indian mindset still needs to go that last lap.
You are right about curbing the thought of being superior, Prats. However, have you noticed, Indians strongly differentiate among themselves about being fair or dark.

A painful is so rampant it aint funny! And I find this true all over Asia! Whereas in the west people are out to get a tan! If tanned, you get sidelined for everything, unless you grab peoples attention with ur talent! In shops and places, the better looking person (read lighter skin toned) gets the service pronto! in a party, you are not the one that people fall over…! Oh well…! I guess we shd start a revolution on this!
Its just weird! Why is being fair so important?!!!! I don’t think it is so bad abroad. I mean, people in India have this compulsive and horrifying obsession with fair-skin!

What pisses me off endlessly is the fact that being fair is just no considered as being beautiful, it is considered as quintessential to make any significant achievement in life as portrayed by the advertisements these days. A daughter will use a fairness product and become a star and her father will be proud of her. A girl will not be considered in sports because she is dark skinned and when she uses a beauty product she will become fair(how someone who uses a fairness face cream becomes fair all over the body is beyond my grasp) and will be successful in that sport. Essentially the underlying message is that when you are fair skinned you can achieve anything in life as opposed to being dark skinned. This one really really irks me to no end and makes me want to slap those people who takes these commercials.
Really, Anusha! Such people need special treatment to bring them back to their senses Btw, Welcome to my blog :-)!

I can’t tell you the obsession of fairness. My MIL tries to tell me I should use almond oil, besan and there are many more things which she has told me… ( obi on deaf ears) on my daughter to make her fair! I can not imagine someone telling me to try to get a 6 month old to be fair! I feel like telling … I am her mother, and if she has got my skin tone… why should I be trying to change it!
Ridiculous, isn’t it? I really want to give such people a tight , resounding slap!! (Apologies, Aathira!)

You whts the easiest way to become “fair n lovely/handsome” ?

Please consult:

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Er, don’t think anyone would dream of ‘fair skin’ any more!!!

This fair skin fixation is beyond me!
But the very fact that Indian brands are marketing their “Fairness” creams in London, speaks volumes about how deeply fixated we are with this fairness thing! 😐
Oh yes it does, Shilpa. I’m wondering if this is an ‘Asian’ phenomenon or merely ‘Indian’?!!

I wonder how much of it is instinctive as acquired. My 7 year old feels “fair” skin is more beautiful, when none in the family (not even grandparents, uncles and aunts) bothers about skin colour or anything even remotely connected to looks. And we don’t have television, for her to have picked it up from ads. Perhaps at school?
Scary, LG. Must have been from TV/movies/school then!!  
I just ignore her statements and don’t argue or justify any stance. She’ll have to arrive at her own conclusion.
Best approach, LG. I hope she realises it soon, because many people succumb to their insecurities too soon.

Arre, this is nothing. My 6 yr old niece once said, “She is dark, and hence, she is poor.”
Where do they learn all this?
Tch..tch..its a pity that all of us are victims of stereotype AND of stereotyping too! Btw, thank you for visiting Archana. I tried commenting on your blog the same day but it does not allow me 😦

True what you said .. now i know why my GF left me.. I was not fair 🙂
Bikki, guys are ‘dark and handsome’ don’t you remember? 
i guess its this mindset that we indians have .. there is a famous line that GORE LOGON KE DIL KAALE .. fair people havea black heart 🙂
Lol! However we seem to think fair people have the fairest heart of all!! 🙄

Incidentally , I have been thinking about this Westerner’s going for a tan and we are digging out every thing that will make our skin look fairer.
Grass is greener, perhaps? 
It gets most irritating thing when fair people talks with a flair that they are superior in some way . And you just have to look around for examples. especially relatives .
Oh yes, I hear you loud and clear! 
When any one even tries to compare my kids on their complexion I cut it then and there . I cannot take it with out starting a debate .
Ditto. Even when someone compliments my kid I don’t like it. It is stupid, to start giving kids such shallow notions.

Indeed I agree with this.
Our class, about two months ago, had a heated discussion on this very same topic and this psychological obsession. All it takes is to look at matrimonial adverts in the paper.
“Wanted: fair bride/groom…”
I can so understand!!  
It frustrates me that people think ‘having fair skin’ is the way to success. What’s worse is, sometimes, people in the workplaces, do tend to prefer fair-skinned people over those, like it’s subconsciously ingrained into their heads. Urgh.
Baffles me too, Fuzzy. The fact that it is so ‘acceptable’ is really unacceptable! 
Maybe these people confuse ‘being fair’ with ‘having fair skin’.
LOL!!! Too good 😉

So, what do you think?

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