Growing up we all have been well acquainted with the fair and lovely ad which popped on the screen frequently.
Looking back at it now, I am ashamed to remember how normalised it was. Relating ugliness to the color of skin have been something like a norm in our Indian culture.
The irony of a country whose huge amount of population have dark skin practising internalised racism isn’t lost on anyone.
Whenever there is a marriage proposal the first thing someone looks for in a bride or groom is the color of their skin. It doesn’t matter how well educated or well mannered you are but if you don’t have a fair skin tone then there’s no point.
Question arises how did this thought pattern ingrain itself in our culture? How do the same people who worship Krishna and Shiva practice such condescending behaviour?
The roots of it can be traced back to the arrival of colonisers in our country. This includes the Dutch, French, Portuguese, Mughals, and of course, the British, who were in India from the 17th century until India’s independence in 1947.
During the British Empire, skin tone prejudice became formally engrained; the colonizers gave light skinned Indians higher posts and treated them as equals , giving them extra advantages over the rest of the “blacks.” The British East India Company even named their settlement at Fort St. George “White Town” and their Indian settlement “Black Town.”
Those colonisers were able to
build a hierarchy of caste system in Hindu religion where the lower caste usually Dalits (dark skin) were treated poorly and mostly consisted of the poor class. The higher post jobs were only available for Brahmin or Kshtriya and Dalit had to make do with labour work.
In the book The Color Complex: The Politics of Skin Color in a New Millennium,” it was said that many people from lower castes have darker skin because for generations, they have been subjected to hard physical labor in the sun. Since caste and class often intersect, fair skin is also perceived as being evidence of “better financial and social status of a person.”
However we know that relating status to color of skin isn’t a fair play seeing how huge amount of earth’s population is dark toned and it has everything to do with the climate they are born in and excessive melanin.
Colorist attitude among Indians is still very much present but the next generation is educating themselves and becoming more aware of the problem which is deeply rooted in our country. In light of BLM movement last year many of us stood in solidarity with those who were judged wrongly on basis of skin color. The protests even forced Hindustan unilever to change name of fair and lovely to glow and lovely.
This is just the beginning. We have a long road ahead if we want to erase the racism engraved in the people but progress in being made and one day we all will rise above that to say All that matters is what’s inside. Beauty is more than skin deep.