Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…

You have been roaming around in the sun, haven’t you?
You were so fair as a kid… Whatever did you do to get this dark?!
It’s okay…. You may not be fair, you still look pretty!
Wait… Take an umbrella… You don’t want a tan, do you?

Sounds familiar, eh? You are probably on the receiving end of such comments, or people around you are. Any place with huge human gatherings will have this crowd. I call them the “Fairness Metres”. They are mostly old-aged/middle-aged and, it pains me to say this, women. The moment they spot a girl whose parents/grandparents/aunt/uncle/great grandfather they know, they immediately start analysing her looks, with an emphasis on her skin tone. These Fairness Metres love doling out tips to make your skin lighter. They are also, I suspect, the masterminds behind the concept of “Bride-with-wheatish-complexion”. “Wheatish”? Seriously?! To the uninitiated, a bride with “wheatish complexion” will probably mean a bride who has slathered her skin with wheat flour. Initially I was startled, wondering why it is such a wrong thing to not be fair-skinned. But then, you kinda get used to it.

I have always wondered why Indians are obsessed with fairness. Is it because during the British Raj, when we were slaves to the whites (colour again!), people somehow started relating affluence, authority, and superiority with a light skin tone? Is it because worldwide, white has been used as a symbol of purity and goodness, while black has been used to depict evil (even the Indian movies of the ’50s and ’60s would depict the hero’s evil twin as dark-skinned)?

Oh wait…. I think it started with Snow White’s step mum. She had to attempt to murder her step kid because she was a few tones fairer than herself! If only Ponds had come up with their White Beauty back then, Snow White would probably have a step mum who hallucinated that a sickeningly sweet-smelling, pink cream was making her skin lighter with every application.

What I find most amusing is that many of my fair-skinned friends use fairness creams. They smother their faces with these creams as much as my dark-skinned friends. It probably stems from the need to fit in with the peer group. Indians are very complex people, aren’t we? 🙂

We are the only people on Earth who have a problem being comfortable in their own skin. Literally. I mean, look at the money these fairness cream guys are making! Apparently Indians spent more money on fairness creams than on Coca Cola last year!

I have a few questions to all of you out there who use skin products for lighter skin:

  • Do these creams really have an effect on the skin? I have seen women using Fair & Lovely for ages with no effect whatsoever
  • How difficult is it to comprehend that your skin tone is decided by the melanocytes inside your skin, and not by creams that you apply on the outside?
  • Fairness cream ads will tell you you’ll get to marry a guy who rejects you because you are dark-skinned. They will tell you that you need to use their creams to land that dream job, your qualifications and skills be damned. You are probably buying the creams to look fairer, but in effect you are validating the kind of ads they make: Why would you let someone make business out of something they want you to believe is your insecurity? 
  • Fair & Handsome? Really?! You should take a look at the Mills & Boon heroes. The heroes are invariably tall, dark, and handsome. Dark. Copy that?
  • In the ads, Virat Kohli, SRK, and Surya looked better before they used the fairness creams, didn’t they?

All you dark-skinned people out there, if you’re using these fairness products, throw ’em out. Dark is beautiful, too. Imagine how the world would look if these fairness creams actually worked! Your skin, like everything else about you, is a gift of Mother Nature. Revel in it. Go out in the sun. Forget the umbrellas and stoles. Let the sunlight kiss you. If you don’t think that’s a benefit, think about the amount of time it saves when you’re getting ready for work/college, if not anything else 🙂

And hey! Always wear that smile! Happy is the new beautiful/handsome!



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