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:CHAITRAS BLOG: Skin Color

  • :BLOG: I often come across articles online like ´Is skin colour bias distinct from racial bias?´ and ´Racial prejudice and racial stereotypes go hand in hand. I read and understand how people see the concept of skin colour and classify someone on the basis of their colour tone. I would not deny the fact of a number of times I felt insecure in my own skin. 

Growing up in a country known as homogeneously brown people, but you see people fall within a broad colour range from dark brown to almost white. The diversity in skin colour has created a hierarchy of beauty, and every individual has encountered racial discrimination at some point in their life. The pecking order of beauty, intelligence and success gravitate to light-skinned people.  

 

The media plays a bigger role in setting up standards of light-skinned people are the epitome of beauty.  The dark side of the beauty business has influenced billions of people to use products such as Lakme, Garnier, Lóreal, Lotus, Fair & Lovely, Olay and Ponds to lighten their skin tone. The advertisements always portrayed dark skin as undesirable and preference for fairer skin is still being practised. 

 

I have faced such racial discrimination from school, whether it be a part in a play or dance performance. The teachers chose a lighter skin colour for the main part of the play/dance, the concept of fairer skin was so deeply engraved in the society. It was visible as the society appreciated girls and boys who had lighter skin tone. Along, with the rising influence of the media and entertainment world pressurised every person to look fair & lovely

 

Back then, TV advertisements promoted fair skin which threatened every dark-skinned girl failing to get the guy, get the job, and get the life of her dreams. The concept of these brands was just to sell out the magic cream which would change their lives for the better. I personally faced a lot of discrimination growing up, I was asked not to play outdoor games by my elders. I learned to be comfortable in my own skin regardless of what society believed. 

 

In 2015, Delhi court imposed a Rs 15 lakh fine on a face cream brand promoting fairer skin and “misrepresentation to the public”.  Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) (Amendment) Bill, 2020 has set some new rules. Under this act, brands endorsing pharmaceutical products for fairness of skin, hair loss, improvement of height or obesity, among others, will be faced with a penalty of Rs 50 lakh and will serve prison time up to five years.

 

The tilt of the Earth determines how much of the Sun's rays reach the surface of the Earth and therefore the temperature and amount of ultraviolet rays that hit that region. The equator receives direct UV rays from the sun all year round, triggering the DNA to produce melanin, a dark skin pigment that helps block UV rays. While the northern latitudes receive fewer UV rays, so they have a lighter skin tone compared to people living in the equatorial belt across the world. 

 

The skin colour is a multifactorial trait such as genes, gender and environmental influences yet people are judged on their skin. One agrees with this or not there will always be prejudice and discrimination based on our differences. Race and ethnicity should be celebrated with pride and not be a criterion for racial prejudice. As you travel and explore countries you meet people from all over the world from different cultures and ethnicities, with different shades of skin colour. 

 

I was often judged for my skin colour as my elder sister has a lighter skin tone than me, I was asked not to play outdoors and quit playing such games growing up. My skin could never resist harsh rays from the sun, which made me stay indoors and I would easily get exhausted if I chose to stay outdoors back then. The relatives would often comment on how my skin tone got lighter, and the whole idea of this made me more conscious as I grew up. 

 

On a contrary note, I had been complimented for my skin colour in Norway and how they wish for tan skin and long hair. I understand the trend of tan skin referred to exotic and how women throw money for spray tans and tan beans. I was also addressed as ´tikka masala´ and coffee mocha, which is borderline racist comments. Why does skin colour raise beauty standards, why young adults are obsessed with the idea of skin colour? 

 

The obsession over fairer skin has been running for ages in South Asian countries, the girls are made to apply these cosmetics to get lighter skin. They even throw money to laser treatments which promise skin lightening. The obsession has no gender, the advertisements are branded by top actors from the film industry. The same actors who stood in solidarity for blackout Tuesday with hashtag black live matter on the social media platform. 

 

The endorsements by actors are made so the product they are endorsing becomes familiar and have a reference, the actors do it for money of course. This solely should not affect anyone, end of the day they are actors, they act and read scripts and nothing should matter to us. The kids and teenagers should be taught to wear their skin with confidence and not get attracted to these products. The beauty lies in the kindness to the world, confidence in oneself, determination, hard work towards the goal and perseverance.