Saturday, April 06, 2013

Fair and lovely? No thanks!

Day 6. Alphabet 'F'.

‘Looking for a fair, slim and homely girl for an IAS grade I officer. Seeking alliance in Brahmins only.
-          Typical matrimonial advertisement in a newspaper in, say, 1973

‘Looking for a fair, slim and a working girl for an MBA working in a MNC, 7 figure salary. Caste no bar.’
-          Typical matrimonial advertisement in a newspaper in 2013

The description above is only indicative for everything but one thing. ‘Looking for a fair girl’. 

Yes, even in 2013, if you open the matrimonial classified, or consult a match-maker, or if you have an aunt in your extended family who is famous for her impeccable match-making skills, they all look for one very important quality in a prospective bride. She must be ‘fair-complexioned’. More white, the better. Why? Because they always compare the whiteness of X’s daughter with Y’s daughter-in-law!

This obsession for all things fair has been leveraged so well over the years by the brands selling fairness products. I am sure there is a huge market for this. Apparently, from a girl failing in her job interview to a girl not able to land up with an air-hostess job, root of all their problems is their ‘dark’ complexion. So, I guess no amount of education and degrees will count in the job and marriage market if you are not a ‘10’ on the fairness scale (yes, they give you this to measure your fairness count from week 1 to week whatever). What kills me more is when known film stars, who are already ‘fair’ conventionally or are not fair, promote a fairness cream. Dude, are you kidding all of us!!? As it is, we are fighting so many biases and battles everyday as women and as a society, can we please move ahead on the fair complexion battle? I applaud Bipasha Basu for saying in the open that she is proud of how she looks and can never promote a fairness cream. 

And if a fair face was not enough, we now need to have fair under-arms and a fair vagina! Lesser said about all this, the better. But a tiny sadistic part in me becomes happy when I see Shah Rukh Khan or John Abraham talking about the lightened skin tone. You know why? Because then I think atleast now men too will be busy on themselves. Who am I to tell them that they look delicious when they are best served dark and dusky!

I cringe when someone asks me, ‘am I looking fairer than XYZ today?’. And I want to ask her, ‘what are we, in junior KG?’. Growing up, I too faced bias from all corners, extended family, school and random for not being fair. I used to cry about it often but then studies and life took over, for better.
Now, whenever anyone brings up the looking ‘fair and lovely’ topic, I just simply smile and say, "No honey, I am not fair and lovely. I am brown and sexy and awesome! Oh yes, I am! You think about yourself!"

See you all on Monday with ‘G’. Happy weekend! 


  1. Hell girl ! you are brown , sexy and awesome . Let all the fairness creams ( The men's , women's , babies' , vaginal(eeks!)) burn in hell ! Salute your spirit :)

  2. I find the obsession with skin color ridiculous. Hindustan Lever once challenged that at least one of their products will be found in every household and most probably, this will be Fair and Lovely. As thought that's not bad enough, we now have Fair and Handsome. Gross.

    Nice take on the F word, Naina!

  3. I feel very strongly about this fairness obsession/bias. Very well put thoughts :-)

  4. Once a guy told me that even though I'm dark, I look good. I gave him a piece of my mind and dumped him. I hate it when people discount beauty from dark-skinned people. As if however good-looking they are, they can never match fair-skinned beauties.

    Good topic for F. Well-written.

  5. Love your spirit girl!! That's how it should be!!
    This obsession for fair and lovely is terrible! Whatever happened to seeing inner beauty!

  6. You are so right - there is a complete obsession with fairness the world over. A very thought provoking post and very well written.

  7. Good going girl!! Nothing beats or white :D

  8. You definitely are a lovely young woman and don't let anyone else tell you otherwise. Anyone talking about colour shows how shallow they are.

  9. Interesting...

    I've often been made fun of for being too pale. Growing up, I always envied my darker complected sister.

    I still catch flack each summer when everyone around me is wearing suntan lotion and working on their tan. I no longer bother, and just smile and roll my eyes when they tease me.
    In Italy, they called me a, "mozzarella," for being pale. While I love that cheese, this was not a compliment!

    Women all over the world are judged by their local beauty standards, and often we are made to feel inferior for whatever beauty we happen to possess!

    visiting from the #AtoZchallenge
    Twitter: @mentalmosaic

  10. Quite telling from the classifieds you reproduced that our attitudes about fairness have not changed at all. I have always been quite curious, though. This whole "fairness cream" business - is it all a gimmick or do these creams actually make one fair? How can a cream reduce pigmentation? Or fight genetics?

  11. Wow. I feel so pale-white American. I apologize when I say I didn't realize this was a factor for the beautiful women of India - I did know this was a challenge for my African-American sisters. Here I have been fighting melanoma because of my teen-aged obsession with getting darker and baking in the sun when someone as pale as me has no business sunning herself!

    Come to think of it, this is a big deal for Chicana women, too. Once of my friends who comes from Mexico often feels apart from the other Mexicans because their skin shows up as more Mestizo and hers shows up as more European.

    Oh, for a skin-color-blind world.

    So glad I found you today!

    Happy A to Z-ing!
    Julie Jordan Scott
    Our Literary Grannies from A to Z:F is for Fredrika Bremer
    tweet me - @juliejordanscot

  12. I wonder why children need to be sent to school/college and be forced to sit up late and study?! All they need is a daily dose of 'Fair and Lovely (sic) and they will reach wherever they want to. Such an easy solution according to the ads! *sarcasm*
    BUT, many among those who diss the cream are secret users of fairness creams. That is so sad.

  13. I've been commenting on your posts for the A to Z Challenge, but I have to say that I feel a little out of place on this one. I've never heard of these things before. I do think it's fascinating though. Thanks for sharing.

    From A to Z, Kristen's blog:

  14. This maddening craze for fairness starts early in an Indian home. Rubbing ubtans to infants is the first step!!
    And all these fairness creams & their stupid ads literally turns me off....means either these companies think the public as dumb or the public is really so dumb. I tried to explore market to get some decent moisturizer without any mention of fairness & skin lightening...but alas, found none!
    I blogged about it in similar lines that how fairness is equalized to pretty even in kids!! check it out:

  15. Loved this and can so relate this to the present scenario of the society. Inner beauty is the perfect beauty! :)

  16. I love this post! it is so sad that there are people who think being fair means being beautiful! What happened to being beautiful inside that counts and being beautiful no matter what colour! I'm an Indian who lives in England and we get this 'fair and lovely' over here!.. ridiculous!

  17. Good for you, Naina! We are much more than our skin colour! I wish SRK and Sonam and all those other idiots would stop posing for fairness cream ads!