Being dark in India is tantamount to a death sentence. We're all brown, but we're different shades of brown. Those who are DARK are thought of as less attractive. Especially women. Americans spend billions a year to darken their skin while Indians probably spend the same to lighten theirs. This is the truth that I've grown up with for years. I'm the "fair" one in my family. Everyone thinks I'm so lucky. My one cousin, who is a very dark boy, once told his mother that he wished I was his real sister because I was so fair and pretty.
I'm not fair. I see myself in pictures with all my white friends (or even some of my fairer Indian friends) and think, "Oh my gosh. I'm so freaking dark! It's hideous!!" Sometimes I hate getting tanned in the summertime. I won't stay out in the sun for long. I love getting that first sun-kissed glow that turns my skin from brown to bronze, but any darker than that, and I reach for the Fair & Lovely! All this talk about dark skinned Indian has gotten to me.
I am dark, and sometimes it pisses me off!
My mom is currently obsessed with a serial on ZeeTV called Saat Phere. Perhaps you've heard of it (probably not). Here's the synopsis (taken directly from the ZeeTV website):
Saat Phere is a story of a girl's struggles against the stigmas forced upon her by society and her quest for her unique identity. Although India has progressed in various fields of technology, science & education, discrimination against women remains the root cause of regression in many societies in India leading to degradation of women.
One such story is that of Saloni, a dark complexioned 24-year-old girl. Salonis's talent is overshadowed by her complexion. Faced with such a situation, Saloni is determined to not let society's will be imposed upon her and ruin her life and has the will, spirit and the courage to embark upon the journey to search for her own unique identity. Yehi hai Saloni ka safar.
I've seen the show on occasion, and I have to say the way they treat Saloni is pretty bad. But that's another story (to be told at a time when I lose all my sanity and start watching Hindi serials religiously).
I read an article in Time magazine during the Fall Semester about the actress who plays Saloni. It was a small article that didn't even take up a page, but it talked about how having a dark actress in a starring role is starting to change the way that people in India behave towards those of a darker complexion. Wow!
It made me smile.
So, why did I get out of bed at 2 am in the morning to write about my hatred of dark complexioned Indians? I am currently reading a book that is basically a coming of age tale for Indians (yeah, I have to read everything and anything written by an Indian author). So the whole time I'm reading this book, I'm thinking of Indians, and my mind wanders to this one girl that I keep seeing in the dining hall. I've seen her a few times over Winter Session. I think I even Facebook stalked her today. I doubt she knows who I am.
She's one of those normal short, skinny, Indian girls; however, she also has a really, really dark complexion. I mean, her hair and her skin are almost of the same color! So you may think that every time I see this girl, I cringe on the inside. I don't.
The girl looks incredibely exotic and authentic. Her dark skin is like that of village girls in India, and her hair is so dark, long and slightly matted like those same village girls. I see her running around in yoga pants, jeans, cardigans and tops probabaly bought from A&F or AE. When I see her, I see this mix of East and West.
When I see her, I just think, "How beautiful..."