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Jayati Godhawat

JWB Blogger

These Indian Women Share Why Their Dark Skin Is A Blessing

  • JWB Post
  •  July 28, 2016


If a girl was born “dark,” for her entire life she’d be told about the zillion “nuskas” which can make her fair and would be advised to stay away from another zillion or so which can make her skin darker. Well, because only fair can make you lovely!

The society has many such ideas of a perfect woman and the skin color tops it all followed by the body size, type of hair etc.

And, where the society failed to conform the women under the “perfect” line, marketers stepped in to point out all that’s wrong with them and in them.

However, things are slowly changing and people finally understand the concept of body-positivity.

The Soup, through its campaign, “The Argument for Non-whitening Deodorants” brought forward the experiences of Indian women on how they were treated for being, “dark-skinned.”

Here’s what they had to share with the world:

Aishwarya Arumbakkam, 28, Photographer/ Filmmaker

“There is so much literature you know, in Tamil, old and new that represents dark skin as something that’s sensual and beautiful. Apart from this, I don’t remember that skin colour ever featured as a topic of discussion while growing up. I think I had a good support system and a position of privilege that insulated me from this issue. And honestly, I have a lot more real concerns in my life regarding work, health, lifestyle etc. I’d rather spend time thinking and feeling about that because dark skin is just a natural part of me.”

Smrithi Rao, 30, Associate Manager, Myntra

“Most of my so called ‘trauma’ was self-induced. As a kid, I was fascinated by the idea of fair skin. It was probably because you’d hear elders or watch movies that associate beauty with being fair. I’ve gone through a phase where I obsessed over being fair. So, this one time a friend mine in school suggested we sandpaper our skin to make it fair. So we made all necessary arrangements. But just in time, my mom caught us. She sat me down and told me what I was about do would have been extremely harmful and achieving fairness should never be my end goal. It didn’t make a lot of sense then but in hindsight, I am glad I got caught. Now I wish I could tell my younger self that it’s OK.”

Yasmin Ponnappa, 32, Model/ Actor

“My mother would constantly harrow me about playing in the sun. Always harping that no suitor would marry me. I overcame it by ‘not giving a shit’. I’m quite resilient.”

Megha Ramaswamy, 33, Artist/ Filmmaker

“If I could speak to my younger self, I’d tell myself it’s a long journey to security and understanding but always be comfortable calling yourself a dark girl. You’re not wheatish or dusky or like chocolate. The opposite of fair is dark and that is normal and lovely too.”

Lavanya Kannan, 28, Photographer

“Society is more vicious about colourism than I thought as I was growing up. This is maybe because I was shielded from any irregular comments because of the attitudes of my parents and so I never took it very seriously. My sister is paler than me, and I never felt discriminated by my parents because of it. But right now, perceptions of beauty have shifted. But I still don’t believe that people have never liked dark skin, I refuse to believe that.”

Megha Ramesh, 28, Copywriter

“I was teased in school. I remember feeling so dramatically awful in school that I think it has to some extent bruised my self-confidence permanently. I want to tell my younger self that it’s okay. It could have been much worse, kids are born fighting through a lot more. I was stupid to cry in the shower; feeling ugly – all because someone said I was. There have been times when I thought it’ll be easier to be fair, but I’ve gotten used to myself and grown to love myself. I like that blemishes don’t show up that easy on my skin. I like that turquoise eyeliner really pops and red lipstick stands out. White skin is normal and over. Chocolate, caramel, toffee – it’s all in.”

Vinitha Shetty, 25, Blogger/Brand Manager

“Growing up I was made to feel so ugly by both the kids around me and my relatives. I would not want to go out as much, or smile too wide as I hated my black gums, I wouldn’t wear dresses because I was conscious of my dark knees. I have overcome all that only through time. And more importantly, I no longer care. But now when I think about it, I feel a deeper part of this problem is the lack of representation. When I started my blog, I was pleasantly surprised to get so many positive reactions from other dark-skinned young girls over how I could carry off bold colours and so on. It was great to hear. And I can’t quite believe I am saying this but I love my skin colour and the way I am right now. I didn’t think it would be this easy after I turned older.”


Nikhita Chinnari, 21, Financial Analyst

“Everyone seems to be chasing a fair saviour to procreate with and make fair babies dipped in milk and rice flour. Barring four years in Orissa, I lived my whole life in Bombay. I was never made to feel conscious about my skin while growing up which is probably why it never affected me. I’ve obviously been teased and called ‘kaali’ but I’d grown indifferent to it simply because I knew it didn’t matter. In fact, I’d feel the same way if I had electric pink skin.”

Sangeetha Thomas, 28, VP Goldman Sachs

“I was very influenced when I read the story of Waris Dirie (I read about her in a story published by Reader’s Digest as a child) and was deeply influenced by her attitude and wowed by her beauty – I was secretly happier that I was dark after reading about her.”

Madiha Ali, 28, Student

“I’ve been real lucky. I grew up in an environment where I was always showered with love and attention. In fact, my sister who is fairer often jumps up in my defence if anyone considers her the prettier one. As for my mom, she has never bought any face creams to make me fair. She thought (and still believes) that her little one is perfect.”

Shovona Karmakar, 26, Photographer

“When I was 19, I did a 365-day project where I photographed myself every day and tried to understand every nuance of my body, face, hair and ultimately my identity. I started this project right after a break up with someone who didn’t accept me for the way I looked, but as the project drew to a close, it became much bigger than that. I started to understand my heritage and my uniqueness.”

Mandovi Menon, 26, Editor and Co-founder Homegrown

“I was a pretty serious athlete and I was always in the sun. These feelings haven’t changed over time either, so the idea of trying to be fairer completely contradicted everything I love doing the most. Skin colour has never been a cause for concern in a superficial external way, it’s definitely a marker of identity for me but I suppose I haven’t had any insecurities about it. In fact, I’ve always really loved the colour of my skin, if only from an aesthetic viewpoint.”

Shilpa Colluru, 33, Brand Consultant

“I never really thought about the colour of my skin until I went to college in Delhi. That’s where I was discriminated in subtle ways about not just my skin colour but also for being South Indian. I guess that’s when I looked at women like Nandita Das and Konkana Sen and felt proud about being dark skinned. I’d tell any young girl I know that skin colour doesn’t matter. What matters is that you love yourself and start feeling confident.”

You can read the entire story here.

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