Fair is not Lovely

Dear Women of India,

I hope you will soon learn to laugh at the ads which endorse the notion that having lighter brown skin makes you more beautiful than you are already. It certainly won’t get you a job or help you find the love of your life. These kinds of ads have been around for so many years now and continue only because, I assume, you buy the idea. Not only is it ridiculously unrealistic, it is also racist. Outer beauty is a reflection of heath in the features; the bright sparkle of the eyes, the arch of the brow, the gentleness of the smile, and in one’s posture. Another type of beauty, the kind which leads to healthy relationships and shines through over time is the inner goodness of one’s heart, one’s intelligence, wisdom and generosity. This is true for all people no matter how much melanin they have in their skin.


Where do so many people get the idea that lighter brown skin is more beautiful? Is it a result of trying to be more like the Caucasians; in other words are we, with brown skin, hiding a belief in white supremacy? Is it because when the British were in India they were fewer, richer and more powerful and thus considered more beautiful? Is it because of a mis-juxtaposition of the comparison of light and darkness in spirit, onto skin colour? Surely these ads only propagate this racist idea.

Whatever the reasons, here are some reasons to keep one’s skin as dark as is natural to each of us, safe from bleaching agents;

  1. Lighter coloured skin doesn’t lead to beauty
  2. The creams that claim to whiten your skin can cause considerable long-term damage because of the harsh bleaching agents they contain and accumulate in one’s skin with regular use
  3. Darker skin protects better from harsh direct rays of the sun
  4. Well maintained, healthy, smooth skin is itself a sign of beauty
  5. Darker skin is genetically coded for by a dominant set of alleles indicating it may be evolutionarily advantageous. In simpler terms, when a lighter skin and darker skin couple have kids, the kids are more likely to have darker skin because it has a dominant effect over the light skin genes. This may indicate evolutionary ‘preference’ for darker skin especially in tropical and equatorial regions.
  6. A good CV, work experience and an enterprising, sincere attitude will get you a job no matter how dark your skin is. Beauty as described above will attract more genuine love
  7. The money you’ve been spending on these creams can be better spent than to add to the profits of those who strive so hard to make you feel insecure.

Let me not even get started on Fair and Handsome for men. Just as the women of India, you truly ought to know better! Haven’t you ever heard the old cliché of women looking for a ‘tall, dark and handsome’ man?

As a side note let me add that the words ‘fair’ and ‘dark’ in the western context actually refer to the hair and eye colours. Those with blonde or light brown hair with blue eyes were referred to as ‘fair’, and not with any intention of complimenting them. Those with dark brown to black hair with hazel to dark brown eyes were considered dark. These were merely descriptive terms which we have taken and twisted in our own social context. And speaking of the Caucasians, it may be laughable that they have skin-darkening creams and go to tanning parlours to be more like us. I don’t know; I think the joke is on them and you equally for not accepting yourselves the way you are.

Enjoy your true colour. You are beautiful.

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