Women

Battling the fairness craze “Dark is Divine”

October 11, 2014 05:53 PM
Fatima Lodhi is an activist from Islamabad, Pakistan

By Fatima Lodhi* 

You aren’t fair-skinned?  Oh! Then you will certainly not be considered eye-catching, your confidence level must be low and you can never become successful in life because “fair skin” is an asset, a key to success and happiness! These are some of the discriminatory messages conveyed to the darker skin tones through fairness advertisements, says – Fatima Lodhi (advocate for anti-colourism)

It’s shocking to see the role of media in this context. The fairness advertisements are shown on every TV channel and have a huge psychological effect on the people with dark complexions. These advertisements portray an image that this society only accepts those who are fair skinned.

Colourism is the worst form of discrimination and occurs where darker skin tones are considered to be less desirable. 

Asian countries like Pakistan, the Philippines, Taiwan and India, have been practising colourism for decades. The lives of the people with dark complexion, especially girls, are not easy due to this attitude of people. Beauty products that promise to make you fairer overnight abound in such societies. Even small children are told by their elders not to play in the Sun, else their skin would turn dark. 

It’s shocking to see the role of media in this context. The fairness advertisements are shown on every TV channel and have a huge psychological effect on the people with dark complexions. These advertisements portray an image that this society only accepts those who are fair skinned. Even the film and drama industry cast people with dark skin tones for small and less important roles. Roles depicting high financial and social status roles go to those with lighter skin tones.

Why can’t the society allow the dark people to be comfortable in their own skin? How can we find flaws in someone created by God Almighty?

The people with darker skin tones, especially women applying for front desk jobs, such as receptionists, air hostesses, TV anchors and etc. are found incompetent for such jobs! And, if selected, they are asked to cover their faces with tons of make-up to lighten the tone.

The “fairness craze” is increasing. Girls and now boys as well are responding to the global discrimination known as colourism. They resort to bleaching their skin, using laser treatments and high doses of vitamin injections which are cancerous for the Asian skins and also lead to kidneys failure.

 This perception has created social inequality and inferiority complexes amongst the darker skinned people.

Well it’s not our fault, it’s just the way we have been brought up and taught. When a child is asked to draw a face and colour it, the teacher always gives him a peach crayon (called skin colour crayon) and never brown or black. We have been listening to stories like Snow White and Cinderella and other fairy tales in which the princesses are always white-skinned. These tales have always discriminated against the darker skin tones. Everybody knows about mothers always being in search of snow white daughters-in-law.

This discrimination pushed Fatima to start an anti-colourism campaign to give confidence to those who have become victims of their own skins! She started the “Dark is Divine” campaign in October 2013 in order to ignite a conversation by, for and about persons with dark complexions to effect a positive change in the way they are reflected in Asian culture. 

“Dark is Divine” encourages men and women to characterize and promote a beauty standard that is a genuine reflection of their spirit. It aims to rid the society of discriminatory mindsets and prove that respect for all is important. It works towards a society that is inclusive and accommodating.

Fatima Lodhi believes that “Dark Is Divine” will help redefine the connotation of the word “dark” and will bring a sea change in the thinking and psyche of the people of Asia with regard to colourism.

*Fatima Lodhi is an activist from Islamabad

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