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Manpreet Singh
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India’s fixation with fairness is an absurd paradox, given the tropical environment of the country and the population’s high melanin index. A renowned celebrity recently questioned this particular obsession and recounted her own experience of her brown skin. Colourism defined as ‘prejudicial treatment or preference for people with the same race based on their color’ continues to be a deep-seated social challenge in India.
In talks about acts of discrimination, the terms racism and colorism are often used interchangeably. One fundamental difference between the two is, however, that racism is discrimination based on race and discrimination based on skin tone. Notably, the uncontrolled colorism it propagates today did not always hurt India. In ancient Indian writings, especially the Mahabharata and the Rig Veda, the dark-haired heroes such as Krishna and Draupadi are mentioned and celebrated. After it was invaded by the Mughal dynasty, Indian civilization first discovered the concept of colorism.
To blame the colorism of India at foreign doors would be unfair. Even after Indians were left to their own devices after independence, their fixation with fairness continued to continue through their own ‘other’ activities. The Indian attitude, which supports colorism, reduces genetic makeup and climatic conditions which cause the formation of melanin (the skin tone pigments) in humans to be more or less reduced.
Colourism can’t be denied to have a bad impact on any gender. But women typically feel more urged to strive for just skin tones, as they are often pressured to achieve unattainable societal beauty standards in order to gain valued catches on the marriage market. The term ‘gendered colorism’ is used for this topic. A popular refrain for possible brides in matrimonial commercials is “fair, big and thin.” Conversely, if “tall, black and beautiful,” potential grooms are still suitable.
An issue as prevalent as colorism can’t vanish in India with a single rebrand or a single dark model on a poster board. But keeping the coloristic talk continuing is essential so that the future generations of Indians don’t regard their dark skin as a binge. We must first discover the years of training that provide skin tone to an essential measurement of our value, to learn to be proud of our “wheatish,” “toned with honey” and “black” skin hues.