Sunday, October 6, 2013

Who is thy fairest of them all?

Today's topic of discussion: The concept of 'gora' and 'kala'. I'm an Indian girl with dusky complexion and not to mention, a south Indian. In Indian society, the prejudice against a 'gora' or fair is considered to one of the top priorities or a tie breaker in some cases of matrimonial relationships.Yes, I'm NOT kidding. When men and women are looking for life partners, their basic need is to have a husband/wife of a fairer complexion. Fairness is equivalent to beauty, richness, superiority of a person. India spends almost 3000 corers of rupees on fairness creams and products; fair and lovely, Garnier, Vaseline, etc are minting corers money due to this prejudice. While they mint money, the native people are losing their self pride and self esteem, taking drastic measures to become "gora".
When my family and I meet people for the first time, after they scrutinize our appearances, they give us the benefit of doubt, and ask us again if we are sure that we are from South India! They seem flabbergasted at the mere idea that people from the south can be fair. My maternal side is very fair or "gora". So my sister has gone on my mother, making them both 'goras' while my dad and I are on a darker complexion or "kala". People ask us if my mother and sister use some special treatment to maintain such fairness and is so, to share their secrets with them. You can literally smell the air of desperateness that reeks out of them. Though I don't blame them. This society that we live in leads us to take such demeaning and pitiful measures. I have friends who rate people in terms of beauty with them being "gora" or not.
Even as kids, we've grown up seeing Disney princesses like Cinderella, Snow White etc who all are really fair. I mean Snow White's plot revolves around her being the "fairest of them all", in this very childhood fairytale fairness is being compared to beauty. As kids, we're told not to play outside in the sun too much as would get tanned and then nobody would want to make us their brides. I'm not exaggerating, I've been told this by my grandparents and elders.
Don't even get me started on these ridiculous advertisements where a darker skinned girl is denied a job or a higher position due to her skin tone, and suddenly she applies the product which turns her fair in a fortnight and she gets the job which she was previously denied. The mentality of the writer of such ad is too foolish to even comment on. How is ones capability related to one's skin tone? Even men are falling prey to such harsh norms of the stupidity of the society we live in. Now days men fairness creams are in fashion.
  Even though one of Shakespeare's most beautiful sonnets is dedicated to a dark-skinned women, in most of his plays, he refers to his female protagonists as fair and beautiful. In the dictionary of us Indians, beauty is a synonymy for fair.
Though I'm extremely delighted to hear that some campaigns here have started, specially "Dark is beautiful".
Its is after hearing about such campaigns', do I feel that make there is after all some hope in this society. That the girls of this generation can feel secure that there are people out their hiding and their silent cries of this discrimination or even racism based on this absurdness of skin colour. Someone is raising their voice, fighting for them, giving it all they have to change this ugly society and make it a better place for the future.