Note: Dedicated to all my bullies who taught me to fight back and all others who has once condemned me on grounds of color.
Dark, wheatish, fair, medium fair, very fair and very very fair – here I am baffled at the racist categorization of the matrimony sites. I am to define myself to a shade which matches to the best of the given colors for a decent pick from a pool of the so called prospective grooms. Knowing well, the ‘dark’ segment will be rejected at the very initial screening, I chose the forbidden option to seal myself in.
Routing back to the ages where it first began, the faintest memory I can conjure is that of being bullied by the mean kids at pre-school. They argued about the existence of various shades of the color black (even if they exist), brown, browner and brownest. I was proved to be ‘deep brown’ after a careful comparison of my faber castell’s with my skin tone. As they left looking out to identify other ‘colored’ kids, it left me furious at myself for having been categorized as a color. And what do you know; I didn’t realize there was more to it ahead in life!
Thanks to an international schooling, growing years weren’t too difficult and I fared reasonably well in the blooming. 26 years later, I gaped at the first racist remark passed by a colleague at an organization I had just joined. I was apparently the least of the good looking candidates who were eligible for the opening. Had it not been for my ‘content’ I would not have been pulled through. The height of irony was that the opening was for a middle management role and little did I know looks were a deciding factor for the same. Let’s just call this phenomenon ‘Lookism’!
This concept has grown deep into the cultural scene of Kerala. Evidenced well by the endless fields of color range options to be filled in matrimony sites, my folks had the first reality check when a prospective groom to be caller called over and demanded his to be bride has to be ‘fair’. Genetics has it that there are 65 color options possible by a single combination of a sperm and ovum. Skin color being a polygenic trait, the same can be influenced by a multitude of genes, which can be passed on either by the recent generations or even the former.
In the US, they call it tan and spend hours in the sun for the sun kissed look. In India, from 14 days, 7 days and even 5 days to fairer skin, competition in the fairness cream segment is soaring high. Light and fair complexion is a sign of spiritual progress and purity according to Upanishads and Vedas. This attraction to fair skin had always been a sign of mental slavery to the Brits and that of colonial mentality. This was the white supremacy which gave way to the divide and rule theory in India and ended up bailing our land in the process.
What does that conclude to? Racism is a double edged sword. The industry reciprocates to the way world perceives a theory. Differentiation is the key word here, people strive to out in a crowd, hence thrives the fairness products and so does a bollywood industry bias.
It was this article which got me thinking and related me to my past - And FYI, I am not crying, I know the world isn’t ‘fair’ and I need to fight it through. I don’t believe in miracles but I do hope someday I land up in a colorless, unbiased world of utopia..