Dear Priyanka Jain, Wherever You Are, I'm Sorry. That Was Un-Fair.

MissMalini , 31 Jan 2017

You know, I haven’t had a chance to personally blog in a while, but I just saw something that made my stomach churn and I need your help dealing with it. I’m hoping you probably know by now how I feel about fairness creams and the message with which they are often promoted. (I’ve even called out some of my favourite celebrities for endorsing them.) You know, the classic “FAIR-ytale”. Dark-skinned “ugly duckling” daughter of the family, who cries all day while her parents palpitate about how nobody will marry her and one day she finds Radyance or some such awful whitening cream, becomes Miss India and marries a prince! *Taaliyan!*

Well today I read this atrocious blog titled, “She got 5 shades fairer doing this 1 thing and it completely changed her life.” (I refuse to link to it, google it if you must.)

You know what, maybe it did. Because the moment she did that “1 thing” she unknowingly decided to let someone tell her that she’s not beautiful enough, smart enough, good enough or worth enough, simply because of the colour of her skin. Sound familiar?

To be honest with you, I’ve spent countless years blaming fairness cream companies and those campy life-changing “Miss India” commercials that perpetrate these beliefs. But one sentence in this blog stopped me cold.

Her mother said the reason Priyanka couldn’t find a man was because she was so dark. Her sisters snickered and agreed.

Why does this feel too close to home? Why does this mother (who should essentially be the villain of the piece) sound a lot like every other aunty I’ve met in my life. Heck my own Maya Mausi once said, “arree beta you’re looking so good now, pehle to itni kali si sukdhi si hoti thi!”
*translation: oh girl, you’re looking so good now, you used to be so dark and scrawny!

Um yeah. Not entirely sure that was a compliment. So maybe it’s time we turned a dark eye (pun intended) on the people closest to us who make us feel insecure about the way we look.

Where are these awful imaginary mothers & sisters coming from that would put Cinderella’s step-mother to shame? I have news for you, they’re coming from this neighbourhood, in fact they probably live next door (or perhaps even in the next room.)

So I’m going to make a request today that probably feels as ridiculous to you reading it as I do writing it. But we have to do something. We have to start somewhere. I want you to share an experience today in the comments below, on social media, on even your own blog – wherever – and tell me why or what or who made you think or feel that dark skin is somehow less attractive. Keep their names anonymous if you like, but tell me what let the fairness industry prey on your tangled emotions because more likely than not, the ones tormenting you were your own family or peers – forget favourite celebrities!

Because guess what? None of these ridiculous commercials would mean anything if we instilled enough confidence in our young girls (and boys) that the only thing they need to change about themselves is the attitude that the color of their skin makes them any less (or more) than anyone else. And if someone didn’t know to tell you that yesterday, it’s time you told them today.

Imagine that. A world where we could all sit around the living room laughing at fairness cream ads like we do at Akshay Kumar flying a motor-cycle into a helicopter (true story, forgot the movie title). And day by day, slowly but steadily fairness creams would start to gather dust on the pharmacy shelves. And pretty soon owners would stop stocking them altogether. And eventually we’d live in a world where fairness creams become as defunct as the cassette player or VCR. It’s 2017 guys, don’t you think it’s time we move on?

Suddenly, Priyanka noticed a sad pattern in her life: As a child, she was teased about her skin color by her classmates. Then, she had trouble finding a job because she was too self-conscious to focus during job interviews. Now her skin-tone was keeping her from Rahul (the love interest). She had tried to get fairer one way or another since she was 16, but now at 28 she was desperate. Enough was enough. Priyanka needed a permanent solution.

To be honest Priyanka – and your mother should have been the first one to tell you this – you’re looking for a solution when you never had a problem.

No demand. No supply. Radyance Instant Skin Whitener – so long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye!

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