All is not fair…so what?

Kangana Ranaut just turned down an offer to endorse a fairness cream. Will it help those who struggle against the fairness bias?

May 25, 2015 06:32 pm | Updated November 13, 2021 10:37 am IST

Kangana Ranaut.

Kangana Ranaut.

Gore rang pe na itna gumaan kar... 

Gora rang do din mein dhal jaayega.

Almost everyone knows this song picturised on Rajesh Khanna and Mumtaz way back in the 1970s. But Bollywood celebrities have only recently begun to take a stand against the fairness craze that the beauty industry cashes in on. Kangana Ranaut’s refusal to endorse a fairness cream has not only earned her accolades from the aam junta and also sparked a new feel-good vibe. Social media was abuzz with appreciation for her stand. gora But will it really put an end to the human shade card? Will such celebspeak help embolden Indians who have to struggle against the ‘fairness’ bias, besides having to fight other prejudices too.

Actor-model Dipannita Sharma who has been actively voicing her views against colour prejudice since her early modelling days says, “First, it’s important to understand that good skin or beautiful skin, whether bright or dull, has nothing to do with its colour. It’s about having healthy, clear skin with a natural glow, which can be achieved in any skin colour across the world. I have grown up in a family with a varied range of skin colours and each one of them has glowing skin, so I don’t identify with the ‘fair equals beautiful’ concept at all. Actually great skin is completely disassociated from its colour. For eg: A lot of foreigners with fair skin have severe skin problems, while many Indians with wheatish to dusky complexions have stunning, glowing skin with no skin issues whatsoever. Our Indian skin types age much slower, which is why most foreigners react in shock when we tell them our age. All we need to do is take care of our skin by eating and living healthy, use products that don’t undermine who we are and be proud of who we are.”

It’s not so easy when we are judged on the basis of our eyes, nose, hair, height, and most commonly on our complexion. “I remember a mother-in law asking her daughter-in-law right after delivery, ‘ baccha goro che? ’ (is the baby fair)? Instead of asking how are you doing!” says Nimisha N, a journalist.

Priya Dharmavarapu, a media officer with an international NGO, was repeatedly reminded about her complexion. “The tussle began ever since I was 14, when I was asked to apply besan to lighten my complexion, to concerns about shelling out more dowry for my complexion and height, to finally being told in Delhi that had I been a shade darker, I wouldn’t have found a place to rent,” she rues. Her relatives think she is ‘lucky’ to have found a fair, loving husband!

Earlier, actor Nandita Das had also campaigned for ‘dark is beautiful’, but clearly, that fell on deaf ears. Indians complain of being subjected to racism in other countries, but are no better at home? Otherwise why would India be the largest market for fairness creams? “I have not come across anyone who is bothered about dark complexion. Perhaps, if they are, they don’t mention it to me because I don’t care about being dark. On the contrary fair-skinned women want to turn the AC on in their vehicles even in winters because, ‘ Yaar , my complexion will be affected/ pollution etc etc. I feel like saying ‘just chill, and wash your face with clean water once you get home. It’s no big deal here.’ I think that we give too much importance to skin colour. Instead, focus on and appreciate what you do. Women have larger issues like financial, emotional, physical (hormonal, age related) things to deal with, abhi yeh skin vin chodo yaar ( now let go of this skin stuff ) ,” says Aparna Ganti, an entrepreneur who assists in the dubbing work for her husband’s home production.

The ultimate tribute to the fairness-cream market is perhaps Bollywood Gandu’s take on it — Gorey Gote.

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