Thursday, 20 June 2013

Where's your colour?

My grandma has a new hobby. A very amusing one. She likes to browse through old albums, pause at my baby pictures and say "Molku enthu nirram endayirinnu, ippo adokke pozhi". Literal translation: You had so much colour, everything's gone now. What She really means: You are not fair any more. You are...*cue dramatic music*...dark!
This obsession with fairness is not exclusive to my grandma, though I am sure a lot of it lies with her. I can't count the number of times I have heard people comment about the 'colour' of the babies and brides. "Did you see [insert baby/bride's name]? Theere nirram illa. Paavam. (She has no colour. Poor thing). Westerners might be amused with the Indian metonym of 'colour' for 'fairness', 'cause there it's the non-whites who were referred to as coloured!

To cater to these Colour Crazies (As they shall be referred to from now on), there is a HUGE market, providing different shades of whiteness, in different forms. Soaps, scrubs, facepacks, creams, lotions- all compete on the shelf to land on the under confident, desperately-looking-for-a-husbad/job. brown girl's vanity bag. All promising her better jobs, more suitors and general well being. Because, obviously it's the shade of your skin that will win over an interviewer, not your education, your skills or your confidence.

We have actors who have dusky complexion promoting such creams and it is SO obvious that it's photoshop and not the cream working its magic and yet we have millions throwing away their money at these products. For many it has become a ritual of sort. I remember a house help who used to live with us, along with her husband and son. Come rain or shine, every morning the entire family would religiously apply 'Fair and lovely', probably dreaming of the much coveted 'Fair' title.

A new Vaseline advert of an Instant Fairness lotion begins - "There is a reason why 4 out of 5 Indian women are getting fairer skins". It guarantees the user '4 times fairer skin. Instantly'. Leave alone the fact that 4 out 5 Indian women have much graver problems than the shade of their skin, like- I don't know: hunger,poverty, domestic abuse-can't those who rush to buy this just stop to think HOW this cream will give them instantly fairer skin? I would run the other way if something can change my appearance so drastically.

This ongoing Indian romance with fair skin is also shared by other Asian countries. I was surprised by the number of fairness products in the Malaysian market. It just makes me think that this is probably a manifestation of an inferiority complex by post colonial nations. All this screams- Strive to be like the white man (while he sits under the sun, desperately trying to get a tan)!

Indian people- we are meant to be brown- maybe of different shades, but that's who we are. We don't need companies telling us that we NEED to put this cream on to impress mothers-in-law, make our spouses 'lucky', or to ace at interviews.

Just chill and Be Brown. 

1 comment:

  1. hahaha..It struck me how the help at my house did the exact same thing for 20 years.