The battle of brightness, and our desi society

Probably since forever, people have been categorised and recognised by their skin tones. ‘The black people’ or ‘the whites’ are no new phrases. While classification on basis of colour may be harmless, consideration of one skin tone to have advantage over the others has certainly created chaos.

Let’s begin with my experience. I have been raised by a mother who walks in a cosmetic store and denies anything claiming to bring you ‘brightness/fairness’. So I should be confident with my colour, right? But this isn’t the case. The phone that I use automatically brightens and clears my skin when I take selfies. The constant s-called skin-whitening beauty creams adverts remind me that it is somehow a crime to be, you know… yourself. Many of the beauty products I wish to buy have whitening formulas included. There are always clues. Now I‘m not a dermatologist, but I took science in 10th grade. I know from my biology lectures that your skin tone is in your genes. That’s all t he knowledge I have. So basically you don’t really get to pick and choose your colour. In conclusion, I’m left with an urge to do something unnatural. So are other girls. There is no need to state what extent girls go to as a result.

Now there are a couple of reasons why I believe one should accept their colour and stop with all the experimenting. There are moral, philosophical reasons and there is a logical reason. Let’s begin with part one. Firstly, it is harmless. Accept your skin colour and you will not have to go through the whole process of artificial brightening that is nothing but a temporary lie. Secondly, you are beautiful the way you are. Thirdly, if your concern is to look ‘better’, there are a million ways to do that. The idea is to look fresh. Work on your grooming. There is one thing successful photographers always say: stop investing in expensive equipment. They encourage you to invest in learning the skill, instead of assuming that bigger gear is equivalent to better art. Likewise, you should invest in grooming yourself instead of thinking that your colour is what is holding you back. It is totally justified to crave decent appearance, but is the road that you are opting going to be of any help? Because my second part of defence asks you this question: is your whitening cream any productive?

The social pattern of desi society has also added fuel to the fire. Girls here are considered objects for bearing children, only to be married off eventually. The system doesn’t equally encourage female education and employment. In such a situation, physical beauty becomes one of the selling points to the suitors. And brighter colour equals brighter future.

The reason why I’m trying to put out a message about this cause is not because I want to fail the beauty marketing schemes and their respective companies. If that were the case, I’m sure there are bigger culprits who are making money off people’s miseries. My point is the mental distress the whole idea causes. Your temporary brightness indulges you in an illusion. It is a lie to other people. This must sound like me accusing you of a crime, but it is all because of the beauty standards this world has set. Anything less is considered wrong or unworthy. All this results in is a stressful confusion when these formulas don’t work and you somehow ‘fail’ to achieve the stupid beauty minimums.

What is ridiculous is the idea itself that anything dark isn’t beautiful (we all love dark chocolate, right?). It is ironic how black colour is adored so much while black skin tones aren’t. It is a shame to liberal thinking. There are a lot of movies, articles and movements promoting the cause, but what really matters at the end of the day is whether or not you are satisfied with who you are.

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