Our Obsession Over Fair Skin
We live in a society, where fair skin considers to be beautiful and angelic while dark skin tone is the symbol of inferiority. As soon as, a child is born, his skin tone decides his destiny. The unwanted competition “who looks prettier than who” starts and continues till the end! A mirror image of this trend has been present in the world for decades. The need to be fairer, lighter-skinned, and the association of beauty with fair skin is represented everywhere in advertisements, in prints, and on billboards. And just like in movies, the hero always somehow manages to meet all the standards of goodness and superiority. In our society, people with fair skin tone (especially the women) get half of their life problems already sorted.
“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is fairest of all? “
Welcome to the 21st century, the age of thriving people, atomic power, humanitarians, NGOs, advanced technologies, perfectionists, democrats, and a global village. Wait, I forgot to mention an age of beauty hacks, intensive whitening treatments, Instagram one minute DIYs. Also, there is uncountable face slimming, retouching, recoloring, and apps. ‘‘Oh, poor girl! Why so average? Don’t you know the perfect selfie filter?” That must take a lot of ignorance and perhaps a lot of confidence and self-love!
Benefits our Society Offers to People with Fair Skin
When a woman is ‘lucky’ enough to be born with fair skin, half of her life problems get already solved. This happens through social acceptance, praise, marriage proposals, and no unwanted comparison. . . For her, the sky is the only limit!
It is a harsh truth of the society that how our young girls constantly get their brainwash about being fairer and prettier. This is heartbreaking to see a lot of little girls crazily digging up ways to be fairer. Ignoring their dreams, hopes, desires and off course talent which is more important than simply looking pretty. We like to believe that beauty is equal to fairness and fairness is directly proportional to be beautiful. While these products have one sole reason and functionality – to make you ‘white’, it is not restricted to women’s prettiness only, funnily it will work for the handsome men too.
A Social Stigma: Only Boys get to Choose a Girl
When you live with a brown family with brown skin; at times they will tell you about all the possibilities to turn you to a white girl with the fear of “who will marry you?” It is very lucky for a not so fair girl if she finds a handsome, worthy and well-educated man to marry. Because with that brown complexion one possibly can’t reject a man. Also, before their wedding, she has got to gain her confidence by some whitening treatments. In just three years or so she will get ready for marriage. If only, it is actually possible to achieve all this in real life!
Somehow, if a good looking and rich man manages to marry an average-looking brown girl. The man will get tags of being ‘blind’, ‘poor guy’ and a ‘helpless soul’ as if he has been sent on a war.
Pakistani Vlogger: Taimoor Salahuddin/Mooro
Similarly, when Mooro released his wedding pictures, there was one particular feature of his wife, Eruj Hadi, which caught everyone’s attention ‘her dark complexion’. At this, people passed a whole lot of bad remarks. Yet many people lauded him for breaking the stereotype of marrying a Gori Dulhan (white girl).
Mooro responded, “In regards to that post. People do not get married for humanitarian reasons or to break stereotypes or for making social statements. They marry because they love each other. The lucky one is me for meeting someone so talented, beautiful, and intelligent.”
Another user pointed out a very strong thought.
Previously, comedian Zaid Ali’s wife Yumnah got brutal remarks for her looks and skin color. And yep, it is just as ridiculous as it sounds. Feels like, we’re still many years away from accepting people as they are.
Corporate World’s Discrimination
This racist behavior is not just confined to Asians and to domestic issues only. It holds insidious effects on other countries too, especially America. A study by Matthew Harrison, a doctoral student at the University of Georgia, indicated that dark-skinned African Americans face a distinct disadvantage when applying for jobs. Even, if they have a resume superior to lighter-skinned black applicants. The further findings in that study were:
“They concluded that light-skinned black males can have only a bachelor’s degree and typical work experience and still get preference over a dark-skinned black male with an MBA and past managerial positions.”
Who is at fault?
Is it a child’s fault who is born with dark complexion? Or is it his parent’s mistake that they couldn’t inherit white skin to their child? Maybe the amount of melanin that his skin is producing is a mistake? Or, simply is it God’s fault? If not, then, what has gone wrong? The truth is; none of them is at fault. Yet the dark fact of the matter is that these perceptions are based on society and people. This is us, who have made this society so complex that many people are suffocating day-by-day. It is so hard to live in a world where judgment walls are so high that no one can cross it without getting bruised.
“To see the absurdity of racism, some people first had to be blind.”― Mokokoma Mokhonoana
Media and its Beautifying Products
I must have watched more than hundreds of separate fairness product ads growing up, all hammering the same message: a woman’s ultimate goal is marriage – marriage is only possible if you’re lovely and beautiful. And you can only be beautiful if you’re fair. A simple, concise statement, that also happens to be vastly sinister and damaging.
Apart from these fairness and beauty product ads, the whole media is following this trend for decades.
In January 2019, the top tennis player Naomi Osaka was featuring Nissin Foods’ ad, which is a Japanese instant noodle company. The Twitter community called out the ad for ‘white-washing’. In advertising, it is defined as a conscious attempt to misrepresent the color of a person’s skin by making it a few shades lighter in an attempt to enhance their appeal, or in this case, acceptability. Many critics felt this version was created to make her look more Japanese and pretty.
Pakistani model Mushk Kaleem is so gorgeous, that her beauty is blinding. It is sad to hear that brands often whitewash her images or change her makeup in order for her to look fair-skinned.
The model took it to Instagram to call out clients for making her wear lighter makeup and photoshopping her images to make her more “acceptable”.
It’s worth noting that Amna Ilyas, one of the finest Pakistani Actress and model. Who also won a Lux Style Award in 2015 and addressed the dark skin complex in her acceptance speech back then too. On her Instagram post says:
“Throwing it back because this message is still relevant! When I started modeling, I was criticized for my color and because of that, I had to work extra hard to prove that my darkness doesn’t mean I’m ugly. Today I want to say something to the dark-skinned girl reading this, you are not ugly. You are beautiful. You are deserving. Our skin tones should be embraced for the distinct beauty it brings. One by one, we can shatter the colonized mindset of light skin is the only skin. It all starts with YOU. Follow your dream and don’t let the world of fairness creams and racism stop you” #BelieveInYourself #DarkIsBeautiful #DarkButNotUgly
Family, Friends, and Relative
An Asian family always becomes tense with the birth of a dark-complexioned child (girl). During the early years of birth, the relatives give pieces of advice in order to make the child’s complexion fair. The anxiety keeps on growing as the years pass. Some girls narrate that their family didn’t allow them to go outdoors during the day. That would render irreparable damage to their complexion, you see, damaging their future (marriage) prospects and thereby their entire life.
A girl with a fair-complexion causes no harm. If not have fair skin, then a countless number of different brands are at hand to remove the traces of darkness.
When a family has two daughters with different skin tones, chances are that their experiences of growing up at the same place will be vastly different.
The Whole World is in Chaos
Post-colonial literary theories suggest that the people of Pakistan may be experiencing self-esteem issues. We suffer from the Gora Complex – a feeling of inferiority about darker skin tones. Legendary boxer Muhammad Ali, a black man raised the same point in an interview with the BBC about the inferiority of black color.
Muhammad Ali: Why is everything White?
Muhammad Ali said: he was a curious child who noted the richness of white objects and people, including in literature, media, animate/inanimate objects, and even household products and pondered why black people weren’t represented in the same way.
Pakistani Celebrities Saying ‘No’ to Skin Whitening Products
After the pathetic incident of George Floyd, an African American, an anti-racism movement started worldwide. In response to that, several celebrities took to social media to post a black square on #blackoutTuesday and #BlackLivesMatter
Momina Mustehsan replied to Mahira Khan’s Tweet about the refusal to endorse skin whitening products.
Likewise, Ayesha Omar followed this Trend:
She scanned through the magazine
for girls who looked like her
with deeper hues,
flat nose, and thick hair.
The day she turned fifteen― Ijeoma Umebinyuo, Questions for Ada
she scrubbed herself with bleach
while screaming for God,
whispering over and over again
“the darker the skin,
the deeper the struggle”
releasing a sigh
that made her soul shake.”