Fair Skin & Black Skin
Recent Miss America crowning of Nina Davuluri, an American lady of Indian origin attracted lot of media attention in India as well as in US. Here in US it was some what controversial because of many racist comments on twitter about her origin (some thought she was Arab or Muslim or from some non American country), most of them were angry that how come person with non American looks can win Miss America beauty contest. I am sure this was not about whether she deserves this title or not, I am sure she is an American citizen, so all this was because of her looks and origin. I am personally no at all interested in these beauty pageants, they are heavily commercialized events and solely intended for marketing purpose of beauty products targeting specific markets, even these titles are awarded with intention of targeting markets of specific countries or ethnic groups, there is no real purpose behind these contests except to attract media coverage and make money, every country has its own version of Miss, Mr or Mrs something. But this post is not about these pageants or their relevance but about some people’s obsession about fair skin, they are obsessed with it so much that having dark skin is considered as ugly and unfortunate. I already wrote one post about definition of beauty but in this post I want to focus on stigma associated with dark skin in some cultures.
Most contestants entering beauty contests fit into commercial definition of beautiful, as far as their bodies and looks are concerned the only difference which I see is in developed places like US or Europe skin color variety is more, one can find both dark and fair colored (and in between) contestants participating in the event but in most Asian countries by default all contestants are fair skinned even though in some countries (like India) most people are dark skinned. This is not because dark skinned people are not allowed to compete or being barred to participate but because they don’t make the cut, they all get rejected in preliminary screening. The main reason behind this is obsession of people from these countries with fair skin. One can clearly see this just by looking at name of some of most popular skin care products in India like “fair & lovely” or “Fair & Handsome”, companies or people who advertise and sell these products don’t even see anything wrong in these names or in contents of their advertisement.
I have no idea from where this skin color bias has originated, I think at least in India it can be linked to presence of British or Europeans, they were very powerful and ruled the region for long time, so I think people relate white skin with some kind of superiority, may be same logic can be applied for other places in world where white skin is considered as more superior than dark one. Apart from this I don’t think there can be any other reason, according to me any skin color is beautiful white, black, brown, dark or fair all are beautiful, at least I can not pick one over other, so the preference to one particular skin color in people’s mind must have some social reason as it has absolutely nothing to do with beauty. Heavy commercialization of beauty products has resulted in aggressive advertisement of all brands which these companies want to sell, in this process they don’t care what they show in those ads or even what they claim their products can do, all they want is to sell their product at any cost and they take advantage of these type of social stigmas. They also encourage people to mold themselves to fit into their definition of beauty. In India I have seen with my own eyes stigma associated with dark skin, parents of children with dark skin worry about their kids future, specially how their kid will get married with person with fair skin, this worry is special concern for parents of girl child, they even have to pay more dowry in many cases just because of dark skin of their daughter, all this just because of a ark skin.
People who think fair skin is better or more beautiful than dark don’t even realize that indirectly they are practicing some form of racism, calling someone ugly just because of his/her skin color is not less than racism according to me, we need to question this attitude and object to all advertisements who encourage such thinking no matter which company is making them and which actor or celebrity is endorsing them. These companies have total right sell their product in market but they should not advertise them in a way they are doing it now (at least in India). The advertisement which Shahrukh Khan did for ‘Fair and handsome’ cream is really disgusting, I wonder how he didn’t realize it. I hope people get over this false notion of considering one skin color more beautiful than other, we all come in different colors, shapes and sizes, we all are beautiful no matter which advertisement says what. We need to remove stigma associated with any skin color in our society, person’s skin color or external appearance should not be the only criteria to judge that person and brand him/her beautiful or ugly. I think our society has evolved to such a level where we can understand that beauty is more than just external appearance and we all are beautiful, no matter what shape, size or color.