Dear Neighbourhood Aunty, My Future Doesn’t Depend On My Skin Colour
I must have been around 10 years old and was playing in the park with my friends one evening when a neighbourhood aunty who was passing by told me to stop playing and go back home and study. I protested and said, “Look, she (my friend) is also playing, I will go home later.” To this, the lady said, “She has fair skin, she won’t have any issues in life. But you, on the other hand, will have to work harder as no one will easily marry you.” She said this without giving it a second thought. And while I was just ten, it raised so many questions in mind, many of which are relevant even today.
Does my skin colour put me at a disadvantage for which I have to compensate all my life? Also, must fair-skinned women only aspire as high as getting married?
Wasn’t it unfair on her part to encourage me to study based this reason? Does that mean girls who are not fair will always have to work harder in life? Are we supposed to sacrifice all our fun time and just aim at excelling in everything? Does my skin colour put me at a disadvantage for which I have to compensate all my life? Also, must fair-skinned women only aspire as high as getting married?
Why does dark skin tone bother us
India’s obsession with fair skin tone is limitless. And the number of girls who have been the victim of this obsession is countless. Our society, Bollywood movies, television ads have left no stone unturned to constantly remind women how bad it’s to have a dark skin tone.
Infact many well-intentioned people offer advice on how women with dark skin can overcome this challenge. Remedies to lighten the skin tone are offered to you blatantly. Have you tried that turmeric and curd paste? Why don’t you put more makeup? Why don’t you stop wearing light coloured cloths? Even if you choose to ignore these suggestions, society comes up with more serious questions that you can’t help but ponder upon.
Why is the notion that dusky girls are not attractive so ingrained in our culture? What has led to this conventional standard of beauty?
In my family I didn’t have to face any discrimination based on my skin ton. But the world outside my home has never let me live peacefully. Directly or indirectly I have been reminded that something is wrong with my skin colour. That encounter with the neighbourhood aunty led a 10-year-old me to deep contemplation about my skin tone. The lady successfully made me conscious of my skin tone. It made me feel unlucky and fearful of what might go wrong in life by just being “not fair”.
Besides, to study or not, to choose to be a homemaker or not, are things which shouldn’t depend on our skin tone. What I choose to do with my life should depend on my aspirations and talent. In fact, what any girls chooses to do in her life should depend on what she wants from life. I am grateful that I have grown over that interaction, but I often wonder how many more girls did that woman rob of their confidence? How many women and men go on peddling stereotypical beliefs to boys and girls which shapes their thinkings, desires and aspirations?
All shades are beautiful
People need to understand that productivity and success have nothing to do with anyone’s skin tone. Our skin tone doesn’t define us. Every shade is beautiful! The only thing needed for success is hard work. The good thing now is that the mindset is being challenged. People have started questioning ads for a fairness creams. The fashion industry has started to cherish different shades. These baby steps are appreciative but there is a long way to go. I hope there comes a day when a girl can play without a care in the world. When she isn’t told to worry about her future because she is not fair. We are getting there slowly but steadily.
Saumya Tiwari is an intern with SheThePeople.TV. The views expressed are the author’s own.