Made In Heaven Season 2 was released yesterday. While the series, based in Delhi's high society, revolves around the big, fat Indian weddings and the huge business surrounding them, Our favourite wedding planners, Tara Khanna and Karan Mehra, are back to serve you and give you the dreamiest big day.
While the show brings up several social issues like domestic abuse and polygamy, what stood out for me was episode one, Mirror Mirror On The Wall. The episode chronicles the journey of a dusky bride, in whom is instilled the idea that she can look 'prettier' if her skin is just a few tones lighter. It also talks about her in-laws idea of beauty, the skin treatments and how they are sold, and a man's endless support for his beautiful wife.
Every Dusky Girl's Story
I remember, at the age of 9, talking to my parents about some distressing incident where I was called 'Kaali Billi by a classmate of mine, concerning my dusky tone and implying that I have an ugly face. My parents, the lovely people they are, reminded me that it's a person's achievements and not their colour that make them who they are. Although there was no mention of telling me that I'm beautiful,
Growing up, I used everyone's favourite fairness cream, Fair & Lovely, talcum powder, kesar in my milk, and any other home remedies my mother could come up with. Not just that, but my inclination towards darker colours for my choice of clothes grew. I was always told how yellow and pink wash me out and black enhances my skin tone.
This is not just my story. Archita, 25, a former colleague, speaking about her ordeal, said, "I was the youngest of the three daughters, and with the darkest skin tone, I was always reminded of it during every function. At any wedding, if I ever wore a lighter-toned outfit, I was called out for it. Yeh kya pehna hain? Kuch thoda dark pehnna chahiye tha?'"
Deeprooted Imperial Influence
India's obsession with fair skin is a complex issue that has historical, cultural, and societal roots. A major obsession can be traced back to a connection between colonial history and the perception of fair skin in India.
The British colonial rulers held themselves as superior to the native population, who more often than not had fair skin, therefore associating it with power, privilege, and beauty. This led to the perception that lighter skin was more desirable.
Imperial influence played a significant role in shaping beauty ideals, although the impact was not uniform across all colonised societies. Different colonial powers had varying degrees of influence, and local cultural factors also interacted with imperial norms in complex ways. The legacy of British colonial rulers is still visible today in certain beauty standards and the availability of skin-lightening products.
Dark Is Beautiful
The most frequent compliment I have received has been 'dark but beautiful'. Significantly unnoticeable, people think it's praise, which is not wrong in the lameest way possible. Although in saying the word but, they undermine the person's whole identity.
My aunt, a few years ago, recommended that I consider a skin-lightening treatment, which almost every other female actor has undergone. This is what my mother says even today, "I maintain that if you look so pretty right now and if a few home remedies can lighten the skin tone, how much more impressive will you look?"
It is important to understand that beauty comes in a spectrum of skin tones and that every individual should feel confident and proud of their natural appearance, regardless of societal expectations.
Psychological Effects & What Next?
Being called ugly, facing derogatory comments, or being differentiated for having darker skin has significant psychological effects on an individual. It can lead to feelings of low self-esteem, low self-worth, and identity struggles. People start to doubt their worth and internalise the belief that their natural skin tone is undesirable.
People tend to develop several body image issues, resulting in unhealthy behaviours such as extreme dieting, excessive use of skin-lightening products, or even the development of eating disorders. Moreover, it affects personal relationships, including friendships and romantic partnerships. People like these struggle to trust others or feel unworthy of love and affection.
While it is important to promote positive body image, self-acceptance, and self-love, it is crucial to call out parents, friends, colleagues, and anyone else for colorism. Being dark is not easy. Of all the people, take it from me. I remember the amount of hard work I had to put in to gain my confidence, become comfortable in my skin, and accept that it's just the skin colour, nothing more, nothing less.
When Kabir Basrai, in his commentary for the first episode of Made In Heaven Season 2, recounted Snow White's most famous lines, "Mirror mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?" and when he followed it by saying, "When so early on you're made to believe that white is beautiful, no matter what anyone tells you, the magic of black and brown will always seem like a lie," all dusky women felt it. Fair, fortunately, though, is not the only lovely in town anymore.
Suggested Reading: Secrets, Love, Deceit: Made In Heaven 2 Hits Bullseye Again