By Aysha Farhana
I could see my friend from the entrance of the hall. She looked like a light bulb. I thought she would find it offensive but I went ahead and told her that the foundation she was wearing never matched her face and it made her look abnormally white. She told me that her aunt just wanted her to look brighter and so she had suggested wearing a foundation lighter than her actual skin tone. I knew that colourism was deep-rooted but how does one make their own family member want to change their complexion? I was screaming internally for my friend who had been battling her insecurity of being too dark in her family for so many years because all of those comments and jokes had gotten to her. Although her aunt was trying to help her out she didn’t realize that she was doing more damage than good. Adults need to understand that skin colour is a part of an individual and should know to accept and love it. Boys and girls hear it at least once a day. Why should changing your skin make you feel beautiful? Is it necessary that we put on filters that make us look brighter? You can edit the brown out of your skin online but in reality, you are what you are. Wanting someone to look fair just because you are uncomfortable with someone else’s colour is not acceptable.
I felt angry, confused, and irritated because I never really understood this obsession with fair skin in the South Asian community, especially with the older generation. The brown community is huge and no two individuals are of the same skin tone. I don’t get why people feel the need to tell someone they’re too dark or their nose is too big for their face or their lipstick doesn’t match their face or comment on the things they already feel bad about. However, social media can really help both girls and boys deal with these insecurities. South Asians around the world are starting to become more comfortable in their own skin, are starting to be more confident, and are ignoring toxic comments and changing their mindset from, “What will people think?” to, “No one really cares.”- because people will say things no matter how much you improve yourself. What a difficult journey it can be for us to embrace ourselves for who we truly are. If we could fix ourselves according to the comments we receive, everyone would be perfect. Right?
But it doesn’t work like that. Someone out there is trying to brighten her skin because a random person told her that she wouldn’t find a suitable groom. Women often experience this scrutiny because according to brown people, a girl represents the entire household when she goes out into the world, and her skin colour says a lot about her. Where is the relation? It’s always a fair maiden waiting for her prince charming, never a brown one. Why? People really said, “Dark is not lovely.”
To the women and men who think using those tomato and honey masks or drinking milk will make them look more fair: your melanin just won’t go away if you want it to. Your melanin is a reminder of how rich your culture is. Your skin is just amazing as it is. Stop trying to change who you are because of the opinions of others. The idea that girls should want to be fair or men should want women who are fair or grandparents should hate their grandkids just because they are dark needs to end. How often do we hear in the South Asian community that , “Your colour matters.”? When are we going to understand that colour doesn’t determine who a person is? The suggestions our community gives us to improve our complexion drives insecurity. Self-esteem lies within us, not on us. So, to all the people who think fairness creams will make you someone you are really not, reflect on what you are. You are bold and beautiful just the way you are. You already know how everybody in South Asia loves biryani, but did you know that biryani is of a different colour in almost every state. If you can love a plate of rice so much why can’t you have that same love for people? Our community is slowly becoming more open minded, but things need to change. Just maybe matching our foundation to our skin would be the first step.