I still remember the first thing that I was asked by a person coming to visit me in the hospital after my son was born is “How is he so fair when you are dark?” I remember being speechless, not because I could not tell her all about the way genetics works and the miracles of a recessive gene, but at the fact that that was the first thing that came to the mind of a 55 year old woman for a 5 hour old baby. Everyone was obsessed with the baby being fair even when I was pregnant. I remember every person from my grandmother( father’s mom) to an aunt I barely knew, tell me about eating things and not eating things so that the baby be born fair. I just ate what I felt like which is basically Ice Creams, cakes and pastries, which makes me wonder how come my son was not born chocolate in colour.
I have never applied make up in my life. I have had people tell me to do so to appear one shade lighter. I just wanted to ask them would being one shade lighter make me twice as intelligent? Or no maybe it would suddenly give me super powers or the ability to sing like Lata Mangeshkar. Well, no Ok then may be applying makeup would make me a good actress, or a talented artist. Again No, so why again do I need to appear a shade lighter than I actually am, Oh maybe it will change my flat nose into a perfect one, once the makeup is on. What you think I am joking, well I think people’s obsession with fair skin is a joke.
Which brings me to another point, why is being dark so bad. I mean we have this pigment that reacts to the amount of sun we are exposed to. So living in a country through which the equator passes, just shows that we are exposed to more sun than most. And we should be thankful for that, I know of people who crave to see the sun for days. But I digress, so we can’t control the genes, we can’t control the sun but we try to change the dark skin to a fair one. I mean it is such a futile attempt, isn’t it? So basically corporates create negative body image and skin image to sell products that won’t work because those products can neither stop the sun from shining nor alter the genetic makeup of a person. And we are made to believe that dark is bad and fair is beautiful, to the extent that fairness is important to get work, win competitions, be a good actor or a sing, basically fairness is the most important quality to do anything in life.
Now just imagine Sunita Williams or Kalpana Chawla would never have been astronauts had NASA’s criteria for them been fairness and not whatever it is needed to be known for being an astronaut. And people like Maya Angelou would never have been known in a world where it was important to be fair to write good poetry and be a good person. What about Oprah Winfrey, M S Shubahlakshmi, Whitney Huston or Shilpa Rao being told they can’t do what they do now because they are not fair. Imagine someone telling Mrs. Prathiba Patil that she could not be sworn in as the President of India cause she was dark and the main criteria needed to do that was to be fair, especially since she is a woman. Does all this sound ludicrous to you?
Then it is high time that we stop this lunacy created for the benefit of a few. No one needs to be fair to do what they need to do. Fairness isn’t even a quality, then why do we make it one. Dark is beautiful, in fact every person is beautiful, irrespective of their skin colour. We need to stop judging people based on their appearance and start judging them based on what they say and do, based on how they think and how they react, based on how they treat others. And the next time someone tries to tell you that you can’t be successful if you are dark, please point at the person and laugh cause that is the biggest joke you can tell anyone.