For a country that is so diverse in culture, you would think we’d have different representations across all platforms in terms of face, skin colour, body, etc.
Well, you thought wrong. And how wrong? As wrong as Vogue India was in putting Kendall Jenner on the cover of their 10th-anniversary special.
This particular post is about growing up as a South-Indian girl with a dark complexion, and all the things I’ve heard and understood about my skin colour from people who think themselves experts on validating an individual based on the colour of their skin. These are accounts of almost every single, horrid phrase hurled my way, and mind you, I’m 24 years old, so I have enough and more to talk about.
I’ve compiled a list of the most commonly heard phrases thrown my way (and other dark-skinned people, raise your hands!) and let’s deconstruct them together because, why not?
- “You’ve gotten so dark! Why don’t you use Fair & Lovely?”
I’ve been handed a total of 7 tubes of Fair & Lovely throughout 24 years of my life. The first tube was completed within a week, as I kept applying it onto my face every chance that I got, just like my need back then to be “fair and pretty”. The second and third tubes were used but with a little doubt, just like my growing apprehension as to WHY I needed to change. As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t help but wonder why. The fourth and fifth tubes were opened with a cautious eye, just like my instinct towards people who have an opinion on my complexion. And finally, the sixth and seventh tubes have been laid to rest, never having been opened, just like people’s opinion on how neon colours on dark skin is a big no-no. Rest in peace.
- “Stop going out so much! Cover your face with a dupatta!”
The ‘Mom logic’ or ‘Neighbour Aunty logic’, wherein, a simple cotton/silk shawl when wrapped around one’s face prevents the sun’s UV rays from darkening said person’s skin. Military grade armor to protect against the sun’s rays? Puh-leeze, the only thing I need is the cotton shawl that I bought for fifty bucks to protect myself from the real enemy of every single Indian woman ……*gulp*… A TAN. Forget skin cancer, a tan is what makes or breaks you in the eyes of all the aunties. A peeling sunburn? Who cares!? But a TAN LINE? Hell NAW. A single tan line is enough for them to get you a lifetime worth of Fair & Lovely supplies. A single tan line is enough for them to transform into an expert and go on a three-day lecture about why you won’t end up getting married. Give Indian aunties a nuclear missile, they’d probably end up aiming and destroying the Sun for good.
- “You look like you came straight out of Africa!”
Hold up, hold up, HOLD UP! So you’re comparing me to Africans, the continent where THE MOST exquisite looking people come from? Oh my goodness, I am very much offended, please stop comparing me with beautiful people. I am hurt that you would compliment my features by saying “it looks African”, please stop. Let me just go out in the sun without a dupatta and come back with a super tanned face so you can insult me more. HOW IS THIS EVEN AN INSULT? Indians, I tell you. They play the victim when there’s racism thrown against them, and yet can’t even stop themselves from conforming to a fair-skinned society.
- “Why don’t you apply turmeric on your face?”
Because my aspiration in life is to NOT walk around looking like a decayed minion. I agree turmeric does have great medicinal properties that heal skin problems, but covering my face with it for the sole purpose of turning “white” is a bit of a stretch. I don’t mind the information, but if I had a rupee for every single time someone suggested that I apply turmeric powder on my face, I’d have enough money to buy a shipment of Fair & Lovely, and squeeze it into the mouths of every single person who suggested turmeric in the first place. It’s crazy, aunties turn into Oprah and go “You get turmeric! You get turmeric! Everyone gets turmeric!” If aunties were drug dealers, they’d peddle turmeric powder, and the cost wouldn’t even be that high. They’d give it for free depending on how tanned you are.
- “I bet you’d look prettier if you were fairer”
I bet you’d get smarter after I hit your face with a dictionary.
Now, I’m sure some of you are pretty riled up after reading this. Go outside, take a few deep breaths, and punch a racist. Actually, don’t, because I’d hate to lose followers.
But in all seriousness, we dark-skinned women are smart enough to not get dragged down by such immaturity. In fact, all women of colour aren’t wasting their time over such nonsense, since we’re too busy slaying fashion-wise and our enemies 😉
Because no matter what you say, in the end, I will always be
DARK & UNBOTHERED.
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