It started the day I was born.. Some distant relative came to the hospital to visit me. She peeked behind my ear lobe and said “This girl has not got her dad’s complexion. Difficult to get a fair groom”
Indian grooms, or at least their mothers, always want a fair and beautiful girl for their son. The common statement is “Appo daan da kozhandai vellaiya porakkum”(only then the child born will be fair) I have heard such comments all life and as a 9 year old, I picked up a fight with a relative of my dad who called my mother dark and blamed her for attributing her color to me.
There are always advertisements in the matrimonial column saying “ Fair girl, 24 yrs, 5 ft 5’’ , B.E, working in MNC…” and “Very fair girl, 24 yrs, MBA, working as lecturer… blah blah..” So what is this “Fair” and “Very fair”?? After a lot of deep market research, I came to understand that girls who are “dark” are instructed to use the term “wheatish” in their marriage profile. People who are “Wheatish” put it as “Fair” and “Very fair” is the ultimatum – just white washed!! 😛
I have seen this drama all through my life because ours is a huge family and marriages happen every year. This drove me to one final conclusion – “get married to a guy who is really dark”. I was determined to do this and this would also mean no one can tell my daughter– “Why are you not as fair as your father? You have gone on your mother’s complexion. Very difficult to get a fair groom”. So the deal was fixed in my mind.
Very unfortunately, fate played its role in my life and I ended up marrying a man fairer than me !!
But over a point of time, maturity peeped into my head and the total perspective on “complexion and beauty” took a different shape. I heard Balu Mahendra, one of the best directors of Indian Cinema say this once. “I prefer to cast dark skinned heroines in my movies. In fact I call them “Honey Colored”. The honey colored skin brings out the beauty of the face” May be being dark, sorry, being honey colored is actually beautiful. .
A wide spread rumor that Aishwarya Rai and Sushmita Sen were given the beauty pageant titles to promote the cosmetic industry in India also got me thinking. May be you need not actually use “Fair and Lovely” What’s wrong in being under your own beautiful skin? We are Asians and this is how nature says we should be. Why should we color ourselves up?
And then I decided to be proud of what I am. After all beauty is a thing of the heart. A small accident or a skin disease could take away all the beauty from you – dark or fair. Is it not time that we realize, actual beauty lies in the heart.. There can never be a more shameful act that refering to the skin color of a person.
So enough is enough Indian aunties !! Girls of today are much more than being merely beautiful. They are striding into top positions, making movies, giving new life to the underprivileged.. what not?? Now when some random lady tells me “Hey, your husband is fairer than you !!!” , I simply smile – at their ignorance 😛