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Things you want to hear when you’re back from a trip:

“It’s so nice to see you!”

“How was it?”

“What did you do?”

“I hope you’ve taken a lot of pictures!”

“Tell me everything!”

Things you don’t want to hear when you’re back from a trip:

“Oh my god, look at you!”

“You’ve gotten so tanned!”

“What happened?”

“Looks like you were out in the sun all day.”

“And here I was thinking you’d gone to the land of white people.”

The fuss about having a darker complexion is rather baffling. In my case, for taste- I’ve returned to receive the reaction as above. The not so nice one. My complexion is a disease with remedial advice to follow. Apply besan and haldi. Channe ka aata, banana and honey, fairness face-packs and creams- um, thanks but no thanks. End of rant.

This isn’t just about me, though. This is about everyone who doesn’t look like a pale vampire. Not that there is anything wrong with being pale. Or a vampire, for that matter. The aim isn’t to pit one skin tone against another. Neither is it to defend people with darker complexions. Because the matter of defending something that isn’t wrong simply doesn’t arise. The aim is to get people to look beyond the colour of the faces in front of them. This is about the prejudice that millions of people face every day for a reason beyond their control and mostly, out of context.

Oftentimes, people in this country say, ‘I wouldn’t want to be that brown. It looks dirty.’ Or something along those lines. Dirty? If only everything that was brown was dirty, chocolate and dark veneers wouldn’t have a market at all. Matrimonial advertisements seek fair brides and grooms and the reader at the other end jumps about their seat with their hand in the air like an excited 5th grader who solved a math problem first.  Only, there really isn’t a problem here. Since when did having a darker complexion become a problem? The problem is the mind-set which associates beauty and social and economic status with skin-tone. It’s funny how these advertisements seek fairness before any other factor. Because fairness make you laugh, right? Because fairness automatically implies kindness, compassion and compatibility.

There has been an uprising on certain levels regarding this matter. While the cause has garnered a lot of support, its reach still remains small. The real ability to make a difference and bring about a change rests with some of the largest powerhouses of the nation such as the media. Just imagine the impact it would have, if all the newspapers refused to print matrimonials which are solely based on superficial characteristics. However, the loss of revenue that would entail might make the media sceptical about taking such action. Personally, I also believe the audience would greatly appreciate it if they didn’t have to see three different fairness creams/ face wash advertisements every time they went for a movie. The censor board would do well to shift its focus from cutting out graphic scenes to banning discriminatory advertisements. The focal point of these advertisements are usually celebrities who are looked up to as role models by a large number of people. The influence they command is immense and honestly, they should be ashamed of sending across such a message. Even the most comfortable pillows bought with the endorsement contracts should not let their conscience rest easy.

To all those people out there who don’t know what napping in the sun feels like for the fear of getting tanned, please understand that there is more to you that your complexion. Be confident in your own skin- literally! There are people out there who sunbathe for hours, running the risk of burnt noses and skin cancer, trying to get that beautiful colour. The grass isn’t greener on the other side though. It’s simply a matter of perception. Getting fairer won’t solve all of life’s problems. An education will solve quite a few though. And if all the money invested in the fairness industry were to be transferred to the education sector, these discriminatory practices would cease to exist.

Confidence and happiness are a state of mind. They’re completely unaffected by your skin tone.  Let nobody make you feel otherwise. I’m happy with my complexion. And you know what? I’d be happy if I were any other colour too.
And so should you.

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