Being a guy with light skin in India gives one a kind of immunity from the scrutiny of society. In effect, someone like me has it made with my nearly white skin. What else could a parent ask for is the typical thought that crosses through most people. Be it the slightly older people, from our grandparent’s generation looking forward to wedding plans and great grandchildren, giving hints for marriage proposals. Our parents’ generation, thankfully, have less of the pigmentation inclined but one can’t avoid the occasional aunt who just can’t get over “Makhan malai” cheeks you may have.
But the best responses come from our generation itself. While there are many who have noticed skin colour as much as anyone notices the craters on Mars, there are those who simply can’t get over it. It reminds me of a time when I met a woman for a date and she couldn’t get over the fact that I was fairer than her. So much so, she made an international call to her mother to share her surprise about it.
On the other hand, one can’t totally avoid seeing the bias against the other shade in the Indian mentality. Be it advertorials on TV with models lamenting their skin or the advice from older generations on how to “safeguard” the valuable asset of our colour of the skin. Be it on a fashion ramp or in a protest, studies have shown audiences prefer white skin over any other shade.
Is it because a darker shade is not beautiful? I, for one, would disagree and laugh at it to boot. Walk down any street in Mumbai and one is prone to losing his or her heart at least a couple of times. Walk into a fashion college and prepared to be dazzled by some of the most beautiful looking men and women dressed in some of the most amazing creations they themselves have made, and quite a few of them would have dark skin.
Beauty is not skin deep. If it was, we wouldn’t see Mother Teresa’s smile with a young orphan beautiful. It comes from the confidence and surety of the self, possible only when one is comfortable in their skin no matter the colour. One could be dark as the midnight hour in a coal mine and still make heads turn while walking down the street.
All this talk of beauty brings up the pressing need to understand that a fair skin is not the only criteria which a person is to be held to. A smile is beautiful no matter if the person is pale, fair or black. Have we as a society forgotten there is more to a person than just that?
Various movements have started, especially in the fashion sector, to counter the popular notion of fair skin being the only beautiful. From fashion houses to college campuses, this new look at beauty is asking us to rethink our ideas about beauty. Hopefully, this direction helps society accept beauty in whatever form it comes, not just the form we expect.
Ranveer Raj Bhatnagar