Color …. Skin color or skin tone as you may call it is something that is god given and is something that we have no choice of (minus the hour long surgeries). Though there is a vast history to the evolution of skin color and how genetics play a major role in its formation, let’s just concentrate on the skin tones and what it is to be light or dark skinned, particularly in India.

Through this article I want to center the outlook of the majority of people who consider dark skin as a shortcoming. First of all, it is NOT a shortcoming. A person has no authority towards what skin color he will be born to which is in fact an amazing thing as I believe God gives power to change when something has to be reformed. Well! Science on the contrary has given men that power of change his skin color….now that is a major flaw in the system.

Once while travelling in the metro, I witnessed a conversation between two girls which made my mind dwell deep into this whole concept of skin color and its association to human disparity. The first girl complainingly said to her friend, ‘Today was my college fest so I thought of trying something new and wore my shorts and top but to my shock when I was walking down the staircase towards the auditorium, a bunch of guys passed comments saying –look a charcoal mine wearing shorts, tell her not to wear such things as she would soon burn….I broke completely’. Her friend trying to ease her out said, ‘Look I am also made fun of being overweight…it happens…people are like that here’. To which the girl replied, ‘But you can lose your weight. How will I change my color?’

This conversation distressed me to such a great extent that I couldn’t stop imagining how much mentally she would be shaken to actually have wished of changing her skin as white is what is considered beautiful in people’s minds.

Every skin color is beautiful in its own way but I doubt how many more years will people take to the understanding of embracing this dear thought. In India, if a family is looking out for girls for marriage then the broker is asked whether the girl is fair or not. Since most of the Indian population has a wheatish complexion, a fair bride becomes something the family can flaunt in their wedding reception.

In India, a girl is constantly put under scrutiny on the grounds of color, height, shape and all other physical attribute you name, while the men go through the torture relatively less. I would reason this statement with the fact that in my twenty one year old life, in various different times I have heard people from various age groups repeatedly saying the most shattering thing which is – ‘If a guy is dark skinned, it doesn’t matter but if the girl is dark skinned then it’s a major problem’.

I want you people to not grab the picture of only the old uncles and aunties proposing such mentality to other people, the youth falls in the very similar category as well. Children are complimented by relatives and friends for being the ‘fairer one’ in teenage and this bias keeps growing with age. It can be blamed on peer pressure, societal biases or advertising and product manufacturing. I firmly believe a major role is played by the advertising industry who promotes cosmetics such as the heinous skin lightening creams as a hope of a ‘better face’. A better face is only a healthier face and never a fairer face.

Colorism is a common thing in India and the country is also renowned for it. It is ironical that most of the population share different skin tones of brown and yet manage to discriminate on the basis of color. This deep rooted color bias can also be witnessed in employment as white skin has almost become a pre-requisite in India. It goes like – ‘beautiful and fair- ugly and dark’. This colorism is something we need to be ashamed of because in a country with almost 80% of population following Hinduism whose major God is Lord Krishna (the Sanskrit word for Dark or Black) this is nothing short of insincerity and pretense at its peak.

The only message I want to let out to all the girls who think their color is a barrier and is a flaw is that the Indian society sadly masters in treating their girls partially and let’s be practical that in no recent time are they going to change. Never feel sorry for being born to a certain color. The stereotypical mindset is hard to mend but the good news is that you don’t have to repair it. You just have to be comfortable in your own skin and respect yourself as whoever or whatever you are, as you are chosen by god and God makes no mistakes. Be it white or black, every color is divine. And common… There are so many better things to do in life than being a color!

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Ashwathi is an enthusiastic traveller and dancer with a passion for movies and music. Hailing from an Army background, she considers herself fortunate enough to have experienced the diverse cultures that India boasts of. She is a graduate in Journalism and Mass Communications and has worked in print, radio and television.