The Dark Side Of Fairness: Of Persisting Prejudices


India is land of many persisting prejudices and no matter how many times we tell ourselves that things are not as bad as we make them out to be, we know that they are. One of the many age-old and utterly annoying prejudices is colour prejudice or discrimination based on colour.

India is well known for its blinding affinity towards fair skinned people. The fact that there is flourishing and booming industry of fairness creams worth two thousand crores in India is a bitter reminder of how deeply ingrained it is  in this country.

fairness-cream (1)

The whole charade of acceptance falls flat on its face when you see mothers who constantly worry for their dark skinned daughters, because India’s marriage market demands fair skinned brides. Also, the stakes of the controversial dowry system are set higher in this case, only because the girl doesn’t come in the standard and desired colour by her ‘consumers’, viz. her husband and in-laws.

It has been hammered into a woman’s subconscious for years till she is conditioned to believe that her self esteem is directly linked to the colour of her skin. There are creams to lighten even her armpits and vagina, for God’s sake, because it would be rather ‘unfair’ to the other parts of the body if they didn’t have those!


For all those who think that, this is a stereotype that is confined to women, think again, men too have been increasingly subjected to the whole ‘Fair is (the only) Handsome’ nonsense that has caught on like wild fire.

Men face a similar crisis as they too find their self worth dwindling every time they see women choosing other men over them just because they are a shade lighter.


Men, women, or children; none are spared from the shackles of the pains of colour prejudice.

At most Indian adoption agencies and orphanages fair-skinned children are picked up first, and mostly by Indian couples.

“Dark complexioned kids” says Manjula, from Delhi’s premier orphan centre, “are the last to go, and ironically adopted mainly by white foreigners.”

When did being fair, tall and thin become more important than being compassionate, emphatic and kind?

The whole concept of looking a certain way to appease society is twisted to begin with. Height, weight, skin colour and other physical characteristics are just externalities that are given way too much importance in our quest and obsession with perfection.

It makes one think, if our eyes saw souls instead of faces and bodies, how different our ideals of beauty would really be?

We are so much more than our faces and bodies, so much more than the curve of our hips and colour of our cheeks, we are evolution in motion.  We are mystery, magic and magnificence all in the form of skin and bones. We are ideas and revolutions waiting to happen. We are tomorrow’s history in the making, we are unique and extra ordinary, each one of us, and no one should make you feel like anything less than that.

We urge our readers to share their views as part of our #EndShaming campaign. This is only the second part, there’s definitely more to come! 


Shireen Azizi

Image Sources:

The Viewspaper