Saturday, April 07, 2012

'Fair' is just a four lettered word.....

They say , time is a dressmaker specializing in alterations.

And it has occurred to me after half a century of observing the alterations, that  we as insensitive, undisciplined people,  force these alterations, much against the  suggestions of the dressmaker. 

All people are different. In origin, language, physical, mental, and genetic traits. 

All people are curious , and question things.  But the answers differ.

There was something in life 40-50 years ago, when as a child, one understood why someone could have a dark complexion, but didn't have a public discourse on it.  There were things you paid great attention to at certain ages, and you didn't get obsessed with skin color as a child.  Of course as you grew up you noticed tendencies in society, but you were taught never to comment on physical characteristics of people.

Today, we are so blatant about this concept of "fairness" , that it gives "being fair" to someone a bad name, thanks to the unfortunate nomenclature.    

The concept of fairness.  Nothing to do with bending backwards to be fair to someone. But the  unending struggle to appear "fair" to the world. In complexion, and not in spirit.

-And so what do you say to a young girl, swimming her heart off, in a day long swimmathon, among the top so-many,  emerging to change clothes in the evening, and encountering mothers of other swimmers, who audibly and to-her-face remark on how "black" she has become, and hurry to rub their kids down with some expensive soap, destroying her joy at having done well....

-And what do you say about a huge group at a picnic, a couple has joined in with their newly adopted slightly wheatish complexioned daughter, and an acquaintance, boasting of amazing education levels in the family, looks at the child, then at the parents, smirks, and asks, "I didn't know you liked the color black !"  (The parent is known to have stared at he little girl, looked up, smiled , and said, "Black ? What black?"...)

-And what do you say of some "well meaning" neighbors, who advise someone NOT to send the daughter for water sports, because she will turn dark; this despite they having a non-sporting but  extremely intelligent , "fair"ly wheatish daughter....   

-and what do you say to prospective nosy ladies who blatantly discuss and describe a girl of marriageable age  'as  a wonderful person "except", that she is a bit on the wheatish side....'

Something has to change. It is time. 

For a start,  ban all fairness advertisements on television. For a television system that turns a blind eye to liquor ads  moonlighting as sodas, cds and casettes , and winking about it,  you need to be tough. 

Go to court against the multinationals .  Bring in scientists to define what decides a person's skin color, melanin levels , what is changeable , what is not , etc. 

 Despite having a ministry to deal with and control this, we do not seem to have a "truth in advertising" clause anywhere. 

And so  watch and learn, that you can get jobs after 7 days of slathering some cream, twice daily,   and forget all the examinations you slogged over and practicals you did in college, and placement interviews you did. 

And you also watch as someone endlessly dabs on some cream, and suddenly becomes a heroine instead of an "extra"....

And you watch in even more amazement , as a fellow  , earlier snubbed by the village belles,  polishes his face with some fairness cream, and gets mobbed on the stairs, exiting his house.   Whatever happened, to  slogging chaps working in fields, riding tractors, lifting loads and the like ?

Anybody can tell that resultant fair faces on TV are more a product of camera overexposure. This may actually be,  for want of a better word, another scam.

Ban these ads. Penalize them for misleading.   Investigate the ingredients, and confirm that banned items are not being used. 

Realize, that we as a people, were doing perfectly fine beauty wise, even before all the multinationals came in to the country , bringing in makeup items with atrocious costs, and ran ads to make you feel insecure about your looks, filling the coffers of women's magazines with their ads.

Realize , that  we as a people , didn't hanker after designer body parts earlier and didn't do too badly with what we had.   We were comfortable , more so in mind, and did not go through all the mental trauma, young folks obsessed with looks go through today. 

Teach your children, to enjoy a clean face and skin, whether dark or fair. Encourage the use of  authentically herbal age old  mixtures, that function as antiseptics as well as cleansing agents. 

Teach your child, never to make fun of some one's   physical characteristics, whether it is shape,size, or color.  

Teach your child, that there could be dark minds in fair faces, and fair minds in dark faces, and the latter was to be infinitely preferred.  We don't talk about the remaining two options, dark minds in dark faces and fair minds in fair faces, simply because this kind of thinking is the problem we face today

I've seen brilliant smiles on dark faces, heartfelt laughs on fair faces, and I have seen both intermingling happily.  Dark and Light are what we live with day in and day out. Each has its own equal beauty.

And so if you ask me, I think it is really time to change the meaning of "Fair"......  

Like I said earlier , time is a dressmaker specializing in alterations.

Maybe, we can , for once , ignore all those catalogues with folks in poses and clotheshorses in action, and listen to what the dressmaker, with its life long experience,  has to say......  


This goes as an entry to http://facebook.com/sftimetochange (time to change)....

42 comments:

  1. Yes. Those ads need to be penalised I think. The ingredients tested and a warning put on the jars/tubes that it is injurious to health. It is.

    I am reminded of a funny line I heard just a day after my wedding. I am a dark skinned girl who never cared about it. A cousin of my husband(a very fair punjabi guy, obviously the whole family fair, a few dark faces are considered nonexistent in such families)was talking blatantly ....kuchh to baat hogi ki A*** bhaiyya ne ek sanwli ladki ko pasand kiya hai....what do you say to that?? I couldn't stop laughing at it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What bothers me is that standards in society conspire to propagate this myth of "Fairness" by turning a blind eye to people out to make fast buck on television, misleading an entire young generation in the process.

      Delete
  2. So true :-(

    Why don't we just accept the colour we are? In fact foreigners die to get tanned skin - something we Indians are naturally blessed with.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It just occurred to me that we are a few years/decades out of sync with the "west", from where we actually hanker to get all our current beliefs. Turmeric, Neem et al suddenly got value after the west applauded. Maybe it will be another decade before our people suddenly start aping folks there who think ebony is a good complexion to have.

      Delete
  3. So true..
    Its become an obsession, this whole drama of fair skin! :(

    ReplyDelete
  4. Those are profound reflections. You have uncovered the dark side of the business of fairness with clinical precision. Wonder what those idiots are doing at the dark ministry apart from gobbling away the hard-earned money of the tax-payers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We as a people have become brain lazy and body-quick.Looking for short cuts and quick answers. And a whole bunch of folks get their self esteem dented because they are the wrong color, and not allowed to forget that.

      Delete
  5. so so true...such ads should be banned...and what would you say about a relative who looks at your just born baby (about 10 days old) and says 'well she is even darker than you na..you yourself are dark but she is darker..why?'

    I was so so irritated :(

    ReplyDelete
  6. Even intelligentsia falls prey to the misleading advertisements what to talk of less literate ones! The marketeers have profit as the motive and do not give a damn to ethics which any case has no meaning in today's world:(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These visual verbal electronic mediums have also given a kind of OK to stupid people to talk blatantly about someone's color , without regard to anyone's feelings. 50 years ago, there were rules on what you commented on to someone's face, and what you didnt. Today shamelessness rules.

      Delete
  7. very well said ! I think at some level the advertising world is not behaving in a responsible manner ! They are actually tying to send across messages that say that unless you are fair life has nothing to offer you ! We are a racist lot aren't we... North vs South, fair vs dark ...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think in this big hurry to be acceptable by "world standards", conveniently interpreted for us by the advertisers, we really are losing our individuality. Some folks hold on to it come what may, and are to be admired.

      Delete
  8. i believe things r changing but yes our fairness obsession is still noy quite over

    ReplyDelete
  9. I agree that the advertising is completely out of hand, and needs to stop, but wouldn't say the emphasis on fairness, for women at least, was any less earlier. Am in my 40s, and grew up with stories of grandmothers and people of my parents' generation commenting on skin color all the time, especially when it came to marriage prospects. Males were given more of a free pass due to color, for women, it was definitely an issue. Publically they probably didn't comment openly about someone (I think that belongs on the discussion of how standards of public behaviour have also fallen drastically) - but behind doors, it was brutal.
    -M

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I see these at close quarters even today. And education has nothing to do with it.

      Delete
  10. Totally agree with you, Surangaji! What really gets my goat is the already-stinking rich superstars endorsing these brands for the sake of money. Don't they think twice about how they're messing up young, impressionable minds?
    And have you heard about the latest body part to be subjected to this "fair treatment"? I've written about it in my latest post.
    Regards,
    RajK

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mindless is the word that come to mind, when I see all this.

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. Think you are right but equanimity-fairness of mind is such a hard one !

      Delete
  11. What a strange, unfair world we inhabit ! Here many people hanker after a brown body and go to great lengths to achieve this .Holidays are geared to spend time basking in the sun, skin cancer warnings ignored. Failing this there are the popular Tanning Booths or even tan- in- a- bottle
    It would be wonderful if time,the alteration dressmaker could get to work and come up with universal colour uniformity
    What would be the next benchmark though ? Length of feet? Size of ears ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We really need to train the eyes of the beholder. The other option of growing longer ears looks very attractive from the point of view of being able to pull them....:-)

      Delete
    2. Apologies,Ugich,have put a reply in the wrong place,not once,but twice ! How mindless is that ????

      Delete
    3. Hey Barbara ! It's OK . It matters what you say, not where you stand and say it ! :-)

      Delete
  12. great post as always. They have taken this fairness business to an entirely new level, with "clean & dry intimate wash" to make your private parts fairer and only for women it seems!! How much lower are they going to stoop?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why does no one realise that all those chemicals, lathering agents, fairness products, et al, contain chemicals, many of which are the culprits in the large proportion of women we see today afflicted with cancers in their young ages. You dont play around with hormones, and chemicals that mimic hormones. But short term status victories always win over long term benefits. Sigh.

      Delete
  13. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I was nodding my head reading and at one point I thought my head would come off. I agree with you so very much on all counts. But where I differ is, even in the past people were obsessed with fairness. It is just that it was not as widely known as now. In the past too people hurt those with a darker complexion, with their cruel remarks.
    It seems I had been fair(er) while a baby. I was called 'Sundari mol' (beautiful daughter) by my aunt because of that. When she met me years later while I was in college, she looked at me aghast, "What happened to you? You were (note the past tense) so beautiful! You look all dark now." So beauty equates fairness? All this was gross exaggeration just because I had a tan :P Just because I did not shy away from the sun. I hate umbrellas, never use them either for sun or rain. My grandma shed tears because my sister was born as a dark baby. But she of course turned fairer than all putting my grannies fears (!!!) to rest.
    The first thing that most from the older generation, and here I mean the one older to mine, mentioned about a young girl (or boy for that matter) is color. I have noticed this with unfailing regularity. The rest everything comes after this. "Fair girl" is supposed to cover ALL desirable qualities in a woman (sic).
    Making tall claims which cannot be substantiated by ads should be a crime punishable by law. Not only do these creams not make anyone fair, they do harm. Besides, I'd like the ad people to prove that being fair wins over ability in ANY field. Even a model or a film star should have the ability to act or do cat walk. Other than SICK marriage markets I don't think it is a sought after criterion anywhere.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Eeks! That should be Granny's and not grannies! *what was I thinking!*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Shail (or should I say Sundari Mol :-)... its such a lovely sounding name), I agree this obsession about fair > dark has always been there in the older generation. It is amazing that ladies of my generation continue to comment on this too , and turn up their noses at dark girls. We havent learned a thing in all these years. I've seen this happen blatantly without a thought for the said girl's mind. And then there are these so called eligible boys that "shop" for eligible girls, of fair complexions. And I've seen tons of talented dark/wheatish girls, with amazing skin, and great smiles, and brilliant laughs and attitudes of friendship.

      There is even a theory that if the girl is fair, the grandchildren will turn out fair. I know for sure that this is not always true. But what can you say when marriage is treated as an exercise in optimization of color ......

      Delete
  17. I have been a eager reader of your blog for a couple of years.. delurking now because this post struck a personal chord.. especially the part about swimming.. being a "wheatish-dark" child with a tendency to tan quickly in a fairer extended "highly-educated since 4 generations" Maharashtrian family, cousins etc. I remember going to swimming classes during school summer vacation when i must have been 12-13 yrs old.. and then attending a family function the same summer.. I remember being called "black beauty" by one grand-uncle amidst chuckles in front of the entire gathering.. now 20 yrs later i know that i should not have let it affect my confidence.. but at that shy young age, the experience had a permanent impact on my mind.. I wonder if "degree" education is sufficient to make a change..

    -PK

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've been witness to an almost exact episode, except the girl was simply called black, (without the "beauty"). In general the higher the education, or the social strata ( I exclude page-3 types) , the more senseless and insensitive the comments. That's what I have found. It really depends on what thinking was dinned into you when you were brought up. I've seen entire families applauding and having a laugh over one of their own making a "colored" comment about someone.

      I just think you need a no-nonsense bringing up with thoughtful values, and a gratitude for what you have.

      Delete
  18. A well written post ! and it is sad when well read 'educated' people have such colored values!

    Gosh, its been so long since i read this space :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. What is ironic is that even after such a public outcry the ad people just continue to make such ads. And the so-called role models and youth icons keep on endorsing this mindless garbage and the multinationals just keep cashing in on our colonist complexes. Great post. Will hang out here more often.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Nicely written
    Well done yaar..cheers for the article :).
    Also Check out mine.Give your comment on it.
    Are Hijra's(TransGender) not a Human being.?

    ReplyDelete