For years, our society has considered light skin tones to be better and more beautiful than darker tones. Even little children are witness to the subtle (or direct) discrimination based on skin colour that abounds in society. Women are consistently told that fairer skin tones are more attractive and are talked into using photo manipulation, for example, to fit into the prescribed beauty standards. The fashion and film industries wield a great amount of influence on the minds of the common people. When stereotyped conceptions of beauty are disseminated through these platforms to the general society, it is not difficult to imagine the consequent ramifications.
This unfair and irrational obsession with lighter skin is not a hidden attitude among people. In fact, this mindset is held and articulated confidently in the name of ‘Beauty‘.
There is a long history behind this attitude; to a large extent, it seems to come from our exposure to people from the West. Individuals with fairer skin tones have gradually been made to feel superior, while dark-skinned people are belittled. This unhealthy representation of humans, grounded in the belief that success and beauty are determined by one’s skin color, has been dominant for far too long. In the last few years, people have begun to question and challenge it, and this anti-discrimination movement has started to gain momentum.
A major obstacle for the movement is celebrity endorsements that encourage such thoughts and ideas. Fair and Lovely, for instance, is a pioneer in the fairness cream market, and is extremely popular. Such creams are endorsed by stars who wield a lot of power over young minds. In a society riddled with such prejudices, the assurance of a beauty cream lightening up one’s face has lured in many consumers. Women are not the only victims; Fair and Handsome for men exists too. Peer groups, magazines, and other forms of media also perpetuate the idea of ‘fair’ being ideal. It is essential to eradicate this stereotype and revise the basis of our judgments.
As long as this metric prevails, a beautiful dusky damsel will never get the position in society and the world that she deserves. She will always be two steps behind someone with a fairer face. But things are looking up. It is reassuring to see the ordinary young citizen become more aware of the prejudices that are inherent within and around him/her. People are beginning to battle, question, check and correct their own biases. In this way, society will become a more accommodative space where everyone can thrive irrespective of skin colour. Gradually, we will be able to fight and defeat the unfair beauty standards that exist in India.