Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Brown is Beautiful

I walked in on her putting a lot of cream on her hands and face.
"Is your skin really dry?""No," she replies as she rubs the cream on her arm into her skin.
"Then why are you putting on so much cream?"
"I want to be white like Heba."
"But you're skin is so beautiful the way it is. You would look yucky if you were a different color. Allah made you perfect the way you are."
"No, white skin is better," she tells me, and continues putting on cream.

Later that day I find my five-year-old sister putting on more cream. My mom and I ask her if someone called her brown at school {she's not that dark, actually, maybe tan}. She says yes. *sighs* There are almost a billion people in this country and most of them are brown, but people still get criticized for their skin color. We're Indians. We're supposed to be brown. But the fair-skinned ones are usually Muslim or from a higher socioeconomic class or both. I think people here want to be fairer to be identified with this class? Or at least not looked as of the lower class. And with my sister going to school & being friends with rich kids of fairer complexion and watching the TV ads, no wonder why she developed this complex. She's only five.

This started at four. She thought she was the fairest thing in the world and wouldn't be friends with/would not prefer to play with kids darker than her. We taught her that it's okay to be different and Allah made people of all different "colors". And I thought America was pretty racist. Here are people hating on their own kind.

There are so many adds for whitening your skin color. Face bleach. The most popular is called Fair & Lovely. Men have started using it, too. {or have they always been?} So they have another one called Fair & Handsome just for them. *rolls eyes* We learned in Dermatology that some women come in because these fairness creams actually cause dark blemishes on the skin and take years to disappear. It's a small percent but it happens.We also learned that it the fairness creams don't really work. The most they'll do it take away a tan.

An ugly fair-skinned person is considered more beautiful than a gorgeous brown-skinned person. This is especially seen in the case of marriage proposals. Girls use the fairness cream religiously in hopes of getting a shade or two lighter and getting married. If a girl has everything but is "colored" she will get all the praise from everyone. However, in the end, they'll always add, "...magar rang kam hai, ". "But she's kind of dark".

There's an ad on TV where this girl is in her room practicing ballet and her dad walks in and bascially gets mad at her for not studying or something. She puts on fairness cream, suddenly gets amazing ballet skills, and does amazing at her performance. Her dad comes up to her and is very proud of his daughter. Thank you, Fair & Lovely!

I think we need to start a "Brown Is Beautiful" campaign.


Mrs. Cullen said...

hehe fair and handsome. i love it!!

Artistic Logic said...

lately tho, they've been "tanning" their bollywood ladies in movies lol, i noticed.... so perhaps the admiration with "white" will wear off soon...

Snake Charmer said...

it kind of reminds me of Dove's "real women" campaign where they put up a huge billboard in Manhattan of real women in their underwear and was blazed by the "fasho-razzi" saying that nobody wants to see all of that fat! and people wonder why there are so many cases of anorexia and bulemia in this country!

Falling Up said...

I guess..Like Bipasha. but anything goes as long as the girl will prance around in skimpy clothing, no? And that's Bollywood. But in reality everyone else is still hung up on being whiter. But like you said, maybe with time? But there are fairness cream ads EVERYWHERE so might take a little longer..

I remember that by Dove, but I didn't hear about the response. That's so sad and pathetic, really.

These days the thing/trend is to be your own person and have your own style. But we end up following the fads anyways.

Constructive Attitude said...

You know what surprised me about this, that young children care about things like this and criticize/comment other kids about this, like they did with your sister. It's not just skin color but also weight, height, socioeconomic status, etc. And it doesn't just happen in India, it happens everywhere in the world.

Artistic Logic said...

shes right ^ niece is also self conscious about her color AND her weight... did i mention she's 6?

Falling Up said...

Yeah she was concious about her weight [thanks to me] but she's over that now finally.

Falling Up said...

Oh yeah, I didn't make my sister weight-conscious about herself directly. I am crazy myself and she learned it by observing me. I'd never do that to her and regret that she even learned such a thing from me. I'm pretty shocked by how observant children are. Plus, she's normal/skinny so No one would ever say anything to her directly.

controlled chaos said...

did you know that a couple years ago Dove also had beauty products to make you fairer(like ever other product there), but when they started the 'real women' campaign, all of those beauty products were changed.
i respect them for that