South Asian Women: Insecurity and Beauty
Queen: Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?
Mirror: Well I guess Katrina Kaif is pretty light skinned, and Ash isn’t too bad either.
Queen: Actually I meant “fair” as in beautiful not light skinned. But do you really think I would be more beautiful if I had lighter skin?
Mirror: For God sakes woman, your competing against a girl called “Snow White.” You do the math!
Queen: I guess your right. Ok, I’m off to buy a tube of “Fair and Lovely”. Also don’t tell anyone I use it; I want people to think it’s natural.
Hello ladies and possibly gentlemen. Have you ever felt two shades too dark? And that maybe if you lighted your skin you could light up a room? When you’re South Asian you quickly realize that the phrase “3 shades whiter” can apply to skin more than teeth. This article is about fairness cream, but I can assure it’s not the usual take on things. Typically you would have the author tell you…blah…blah…blah…caste system…blah…blah…blah…racism…blah…blah…blah you’re beautiful the way you are. Now I’m not saying that those articles are incorrect in their point of view, rather, they’re generic and typical, and I think people need a new fair and lovely perspective.
I don’t want to generalize (although that’s exactly what I’m about to do) but I’ve found that companies selling fairness cream have a very basic advertisement structure. From watching their commercials I’ve learned that if you use fairness cream you’ll start to smile more, your wardrobe will instantly become better, and the opposite sex will actually notice you for once. Although, in my opinion, I think the smiling and new clothes may have had something to do with it.
John Abraham is the new poster boy for Garnier Mens fairness cream. John points out how women are forced to maintain a certain level of beauty, and how a product such as Mens fairness cream turns the tables around making men feel the pressure as well. But I’m not really sure if I buy John’s “let’s all share in the misery” logic; two wrongs don’t make a right. Hey John, while you’re at it, why not develop a pill that allows men to share in the “joy” of child birth, that sounds like fun!
John Abraham claims that “fair” in India does not mean light skinned, and that it in fact means unblemished or clear skin. I would like to counter his argument by saying BULL SHIT! I don’t know if John’s gullible or just a liar, but we all know there are cheaper and safer ways to deal with blemishes and get clearer skin. It just confuses me as to why a cool guy like John Abraham would endorse an unnecessarily risky product despite already having so much money. Not only that, but if he chose to take a stand against Garnier he would gain a HUGE amount of respect locally, and globally. So why doesn’t he do it?
Is it because he only cares about the money? That’s a possibility, but I doubt it. We need to look at this from the point of view of someone who uses the product. Now it’s probably fair to say that John DOES use the product, and enjoys its results. So, from John’s point of view, why not endorse it? He certainly can’t stand against it because that would make him a hypocrite. He, like many others, was born into a culture where it was a norm that light skin be synonymous with beauty. It is very difficult to see the flaws in something that was ingrained into you as a child, and it is even more difficult to break away.
So what exactly is the problem? The problem is that many young women (Black, Philipino, Caribbean, Asian, South, Asian) grow up feeling self-conscious and insecure about their dark skin, and as a result waste money on a temporary solution that can cause health side effects. Of course I use the word “solution” loosely, there isn’t actually a problem.
Now, I’m assuming many of you female readers want to know if South Asian guys find girls with lighter skin more attractive. Of course I can only give you my opinion, and I have to say that it does not necessarily reflect the opinion all South Asian men. The answer is, especially in this case, men will like what you tell them to like. Body shape and skin colour are a lot like fashion in that they can go in an out of style. I think the example that best illustrates my point is tanning. Ten years ago in Hollywood people didn’t really care about tanning; it was just something that happened to you on vacation. But look at Hollywood today, they seem to be tanning obsessed to the point where celebrities regularly use and apply fake tan (colour me Indian). Tanning has become the new feature we add to the western archetype of the “attractive female” which is forever changing.
So, is light skin apart of the ideal South Asian female archetype? Of course it is (according to Bollywood at least), and it sucks if you want it and don’t have it. But just remember the whole fairness cream industry is based on the average person. Big companies use Bollywood stars to shower you with ideals (fair is lovely) to sell their product. And further more, speaking as a man, I can assure that confidence, talent, creativity, charm, and style are features that DO attract men. Of course I’m not going to bullshit you either, yes it is true that men put a greater emphasis on physical attraction than women. BUT! I can almost guarantee that if you ask most men the question: what is most physically attractive about woman? They will certainly NOT answer “skin color”.
Now, I’m not a dark skinned South Asian female— at least not until I have my operation. I can never truly feel or know what someone in that position is going through. But, what I can tell you is that like everyone else I’ve had moments in my life where I felt insecure about myself. Probably the best advice I’ve ever heard about dealing with insecurity came from this rocker dude named Momo. His words still echo in my head to this day, “…Dude! FUCK WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK OF YOU! FUCK THAT SHIT! You don’t need their approval, you only need your own” And he was right. Insecurities are what we subjectively perceive as our own worst qualities. Often times we see negativity in ourselves because we lack the confidence to rise above it. Nobody has the power to put you down without your permission.
So don’t let those hairy feminists or porcelain skinned beauty queens intimidate you. This is about YOU and the way YOU feel. I’m not here to stop you from using fairness cream (at least not explicitly). I understand that social pressures can be overwhelming, that we are often our own harshest critics, and that sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. I also understand that everyone needs a crutch to lean on when they’re weak or injured. But when we choose not to rehabilitate our injuries, when we choose to stick with our crutch, we are invariably choosing to cripple ourselves. Yes it is a choice. All I ask is that you make an informed decision.
In my next article I’ll be talking about body hair removal while giving you 5 quick and easy tips to keep your skin hydrated. Oh no, wait, I won’t be doing that, because I just remembered I HAVE A PENIS!