HINDU Boy 34/165, Chithira BTech IT consultant MNC Bangalore (having 11 years work experience in India UK and US) seeks alliance from professionally qualified/employed girls from well educated family. Girl should be slim and fair. Caste no bar.
If one is not well-versed with the art of reading a matrimonial advertisement it could be like solving a cryptic crossword. But there is one clue that is fairly straightforward: The girl should be fair.
Sapna Sera Abraham, 32, is one person who believes that the world is not fair to “unfair” people. After being rejected, “100 billion times”, she informed her parents that she was tired of searching for the perfect partner. “The mothers of the grooms are the ones who reject me immediately,” she says. “For people like me who are so sensitive such rejections can be very hurtful. But I have reached a point where I do not care anymore.”
The Indian society’s obsession with the fairer skin is renowned. It is no longer confined to matrimonial adverts but has seeped into everything including the Tamil film industry where fairer, slimmer actresses are preferred to their duskier counterparts.
Women of Worth (WOW)’s ‘Dark is Beautiful’ campaign was born out of this unjust effects of skin colour bias and to celebrate the beauty and diversity of all skin tones. “Most of us are dark skinned in South India. With this campaign we are trying to educate people that dark is also beautiful,” says Kavitha Emmanuel, Director of WOW which is a network of women from across the city of Chennai who believe that they can be agents of change.
In 2009, WOW conducted a month-long survey on fairness products and advertising. Most of the 700 respondents agreed that skin colour is an issue in India and attributed the problem to the stereotypes enforced by the popular media. “The contents of ads for fairness products have become worse since the survey,” observes Ms. Kavitha. “Now, they talk about fairer underarms, and have taglines such as ‘Dark is out and white is in,” she adds.
Anupama Srinivasan of Pragnya says that the content of the advertisements is worrying since children who are exposed to it are in an impressionable age. “It is very hard for youngsters to not get swept away by what they see,” she says. “I notice when I talk to students about skin colour bias, it does worry them,” she adds about the workshops conducted with college students.
With small sachets of fairness products now available in your local grocers’, their popularity and accessibility have pervaded all walks of life and the preference for fair skin has also transcended genders. About the ‘fair and handsome’ campaigns, Ms. Srinivasan says, “Whatever happened to the Talk, Dark and Handsome man?”