The perception of beauty standards is changing to accommodate all varieties of complexions and features, discovers G.B.S.N.P. VARMA

Women have appearances to keep up; and their husbands to keep straight. Keeping up an appearance can be a fussy affair. A fair complexion, a matching outfit, a skin tone that glows and nails manicured.

Fair complexion used to be the preferred option. Even if one didn’t go to the extent of Michael Jackson, painting the skin whatever colour one fancied was almost an obsession. Indians are not alone in this fixation for fair complexion. All sorts of bleaching therapies and baths were introduced in African countries to make women look fair like Americans.

Not any longer. At least, here in India. Black or brown, you are comfortable in your skin today.

In fact, black is in and black is It. Beautiful and trendy, black is not all black and white.

A neo-black fad

With models, black or swarthy, their teeth a sliver of lightning, romping on the ramps, fashionistas have taken to colour black like never before. Not just fashionistas but everyday girls.

“I had this habit of shunning black,” says Sowmya, an engineering grad with a brown complexion: “But now I feel comfortable in any black wear.”

Hammered with the concept of beauty popularised by western beauty care industry---the so-called Caucasian model- Indians, especially youngsters, wanted to be fair. If they were not lucky to have inherited a fair complexion by birth, they would simply rely on companies like Hindustan Lever Limited. But the definition of beauty has witnessed a change where black or brown is chic.

Staying true to one’s colour is the mantra. What gives beauty to the skin, no matter what the colour of the skin is, is its tone. Suppose you make it glow, black is beautiful, trendier than the pale white skin that merely looks pale and lifeless.

“Yeah, skin tone is what makes for beauty, it’s not the colour,” says Shreya, a B.Sc. student. By having nutritious supplements, she says, skin tone can be improved.

There is certain degree of confidence in being black today. The colour black has loads of sociology behind it. For Africans, it signals poverty and backwardness. It is considered inauspicious for Indians, whereas white is associated with beauty and status. Being dark makes girls extremely vulnerable both in their eyes and others’ eyes. “Thankfully, the idea of beauty doesn’t start and end with the colour now,” says Neeharika, an entrepreneur. “It’s all about the confidence, the elegance and the attitude.”

With the inauguration of a black couple in the White House, black has acquired an international feel. Going onto Vogue cover, Michelle Obama told the magazine: “I had a father and a brother who thought I was beautiful, and they made me feel that way every single day.”

Dusky beauties

Come to think of it, many Indian Gods like Rama, Krishna and Shiva are dark in complexion. The craze for a fair skin may be a thing of past. Even whites have their tanning vacations. Self-possessed and neatly put together in their bronze-tinted damsels, real dark brown ladies have got a new oomph. “The trends are changing for good. We have sadly been associating light skin with attraction and dark skin with fear,” says Ramya, a dusky-complexioned lady. “Not any longer. I have this privilege now to flaunt my dark complexion”