“She wins who calls herself beautiful and challenges the world to change to truly see her..” ~ Naomi Wolf, The Beauty Myth: How images of Beauty are used against Women
The Beauty Myth. It’s a transformative book. Hard hitting. Unabashed. Powerful. Just the way I love my feminism to be. Back in America, she famously said, Beauty provokes harassment they say, but then they are looking through a man’s eyes! How I love this woman! And Nandita Das, back in India, the one who says that ‘Stay UNfair, stay beautiful!’.
India is a warm country. Most of us have dark skins. And most of us ‘want’ fair skins. We want fair daughters, fair brides and fairer progenies. And I do not know when it began to be our obsession. Is it our colonial hangover? Just why do we want to go fair?
With the idea of success being sold at the price of a fairness cream, and celebrity culture in advertising I do not know why it could be any other way around. I do not know why having them in your food instead of applying vitamins B, E and F (what the!!!!) locally would make you fair. The whole industry is thriving on making you feel somehow less confident to be who you are so that you grab ‘this one thing’ that would get you a job/recognition/girl/guy/whatever and wham! your life changes! It makes fair men, women and babies (now also for babies, c’mon aren’t they all adorable!) somehow more equal than the rest of us. Everything’s ‘fair’ in Love and advertising!
I have never been fair.. except for when I am dealing with other people. And I have faced my share of discrimination. That sad stuff some kids go through in school. When the world is still beginning to (not) make sense, it can be strange to cope with an adult mind speaking through a child’s tongue. We all teach our kids our own prejudices.. this is good, this is not. And we more often than not teach them that playing in the sun would make them dark. Somehow that’s not good for you especially if you happen to be a girl.
I do not say that fair isn’t beautiful. I just want to say that ‘dark is also beautiful.’ But then, what is Beautiful? As a society, we are not that spiritually advanced to reserve our judgements on a person till the time we have gone beyond the skin and marked a person as Beautiful in our hearts. But if you ask yourself, the most Beautiful people are the ones with a ready smile and a caring heart. I have often wondered if it is possible that any singular person with happiness etched on the face, wrinkled though it may be with laugh-lines around the mouth and crowfeet around the eyes, be called anything less than Beautiful!
A woman who has strength in her spirit, dreams in her eyes, fire in the belly and compassion for all is always a beautiful thing to behold!
I now remember my grandpa with much fondness. He used to call me ‘princess’. He was dark, very dark for many people. One of the very first few people to love me deeply and unconditionally. Like him and mom, I was dark. And not in the ways anyone understood, my skin colour was never my pride. I never felt beautiful. Till now. I don’t like to be told things now.