Beauty is Never Skin Deep

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Cards of women with captions depicting their marriage prospects based on their skin tone.
Illustrations by Srishti Guptaroy for BRIGHT Magazine

The promising lightening creams displayed in nearly every store and marketplace visited are the embodiments of reinforced stereotypes, the representation of a culture with proclaimed guidelines about what constitutes as beauty, and the undoing of a painful colonial history. The seed of shame had been planted generations past; the weeds springing from it at once, constricting and suffocating.

The advertisements of such products overtly displayed their message of “dark skin” needing fixing. The exhibit of dark-skinned women staring at their reflection with resentment, their smiles only appearing through the process of “whitening”, was an apparent show of ignorance. Albeit, as soon as they used this “magical cream”, they’d been presented with the boon of confidence and enrichment, experiencing the feelings of the “lucky”. The mundane question that should be asked - why do people encourage companies to capitalize on stereotypes, stigmas, and humiliation, only to leave its consumers hopeless and dishonoured when the outcome does not live up to its promise?

Colourism, defined as “the prejudicial or preferential treatment of same-race people based solely on their colour,” is so deeply ingrained in the fabric of nations, the comic thing being that for many people, the lessons of colour bias begin at home.

Do you believe acceptance has been achieved? Fairness products advertisements mindlessly showcasing dark-skinned women desperate over their complexing, using that product as a form of reaching recognition. The incessant practice of brownface/blackface in media and films to show someone of an inferior standard. The elders questioning a child’s time outside as they turn “darker”. The calling of the difference between “just tanned” and “dark”. Where is the sentiment of belonging or confidence that one’s potential is worth fighting for?

As we unveil the strings of prejudice that tightly bind foregoing thinking, we’re learning the idea of celebrating diversity. But, if we are to see clear change, reminders to the coming generations, people around us, and even ourselves, that worth is never determined by what others deem to be ‘perfect’ or ‘ideal’ is imperative. It’s okay to be unfair and lovely for beauty is never skin deep. Let's empower each other through compassion, support and the eradication of past prejudices. Change starts with me and you.

Prejudice is a burden that confuses the past, threatens the future, and renders the present inaccessible.
- Maya Angelou
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India