WE ARE LOOKING AT BEING BROWN SKINNED and the taboo that comes with it. There is a stigma that lies in our society when it comes to darker girls. This is colourism and we must try and break away from such backward and hurtful beliefs. Colourism is discrimination based on skin colour or tone. It’s a huge issue in Asian countries such as Sri Lanka and India. It’s really damaging for young girls and can lead to serious repercussions.
Many teenagers as well as adult women are affected by this and feel less beautiful, or have low self-esteem or feel they are inferior to those who are fairer. It’s unbelievable the things that are said to darker girls, sometimes even by their own family members. Some of them are;
- You’re nice looking though you’re dark
- Haiyo! you didn’t take after your mom, you are dark like your father
- Child try some of that home remedies I told you
- I heard that there is this fairness cream that will help you
- You are pretty for a dark girl
- Before the wedding try and go for some facials to get a bit fair
- How come you are dark and your sister is that fair girl no?
- You’d be so much prettier if you were fairer
These things are said to us from people who are close to us and these can really be damaging to one’s self-worth.
The result of being belittled like this is due to girls wearing foundation colours that are 2-3 shades lighter than their skin tone, trying so many whitening creams and pills which can be harmful, going to salons to do treatments that lighten one’s skin and feeling ugly just because you are not pasty white.
Why is it so important for us to think that we are beautiful?
It’s sad that in South Asia only fair skin is considered beautiful. It is seen in many commercial areas as well as when it even comes to private life matters like marriage. You hardly see a darker skinned girl on billboards or advertisements for clothing or beauty products in South Asia. Even the actresses on TV shows and movies are all fair or at least made to look fair in these countries. This is because we put up skin colour to be the only determining factor when it comes to beauty. Many girls who are driven to the industries such as modelling, acting, commercials etc. are usually more into the fair side. Even when it comes to marriages in Sri Lanka (this may be in the less exposed communities-maybe) the boy and even the boy’s parents want a fair girl as a partner. It is seriously colourism on us. Our culture I feel has taught us that fairer skinned people are superior and this has been inculcated in our society for so long that it’s just a part of us now. Well, I’m not a sociologist. So, I wouldn’t comment further on why we are like this. But I will speak about my outlook on being colour biased.
The Fairness Cream Madness and Its Dangers
The most frequently asked question in my blog and my FB page ‘Beauty by Rosh‘ is “what is the fairness cream that I recommend?” Wherever you look, may it be on TV, Facebook or even at shops in Majestic City. Many shops and brands are promoting fairness creams. There are pills, creams and even foundations with fairness built into it. We are being told by the media and our adults (relatives, parents etc.) that we need to be fair to be beautiful even if it’s not overtly said out loud. Even popular brands such as Ponds encourage and sell products like bb creams with fairness built in. Their ads only feature fair girls applying these fairness creams- see the irony! It’s absolute rubbish. Because if you know even a little bit of science, then you’d know that your melanin levels are responsible in your genetics that have programmed for you. Any amount of fairness cream will change that drastically. Some ads show you that you will go like 12 shades lighter in 14 days. Of course, there are hormone altering pills that they sell you, and those can be so harmful to your body. And what is all this for? Just because dark skin is shown to be inferior!
It’s important to understand the danger of fairness creams. So if you are a regular user of these fairness potions, please go to the Internet and search on Google or YouTube about the dangers of fairness creams (the formulation). Some countries have even banned the advertisements of fairness products such as Fair and Lovely. Some dark skinned girls from the University of Texas have also started a campaign against colourism #Unfair&Lovely. This is something I passionately back up 100% because South Asian girls too need to be broken away from the chains of culture that tells us that a dark girl is not pretty or a dark girl is simply plain ugly. It is sad to hear at a family dinner where an aunty will comment on one’s colour. Many times I hear people referring to people just by colour – identifying each other as the dark girl or that fair girl. Speaking of any characteristics like that I feel it is insulting and politically incorrect as Americans would say. Sri Lankans would love to call you by “oh that taaaalll girl!” or “ahh that fat girl” or in this case, “that KALU (means black) girl”. It’s something we need to make people understand and I think it will take time. But at least if more people speak up, maybe there is a chance that girls would stop feeling so down and less beautiful just because she isn’t lighter skinned. What I wish for everyone is that they should feel that they are beautiful and that can be with or without makeup. But just feeling beautiful is a great feeling and I hope one day you’d feel like that about yourself.
Self-esteem and Its Importance
I think if we can’t feel confident in our own skin – no matter with blemishes, with chubby noses and with whatever skin colour, then we will never truly be beautiful. Because others will pick up on your beauty only if you’re confident with yourself. I hope this article will lift your self-esteem. Because as a beauty blogger, one of the most frequently asked questions is ‘what’s the fairness cream that I recommend?’ or ‘what is the fairness cream that I use?’ etc. I have never used a fairness cream or never felt the pressure to, but I guess I just happen to be fair. Yet, believe me, I don’t consider myself beautiful just because I’m fair. I hope people don’t just think fair=beautiful automatically. Yes, I said I consider myself beautiful and I can imagine how some of you might think “oh gosh, how self-centered or what an attitude?” – don’t. Because yes I do have a healthy self-esteem, and I don’t think that’s something to be ashamed of. I don’t think that I’m better than anyone else per se. Just think I’m beautiful -that’s it. And you should think that of yourself too. Aren’t we all striving to be confident? I think in Sri Lanka, we like to act like we don’t try, we don’t care, or I can’t or oh I’m so ugly – thinking that it’s being humble. I don’t believe that. I think everyone should embrace their beauty and just say what they mean. Feeling good about yourself shouldn’t be a crime. If you yourself are doing that to yourself, that’s sad. Because don’t worry though you have media, your aunties and even your Sri Lankan beauticians telling that your too dark or you need to go and try a fairness cream or change your appearance to be beautiful. I am okay with going out myself with no makeup on and feel absolutely confident enough to do it.
In closing, I’d like to say that I believe everyone is beautiful in their own way, but you just need to try. I don’t wake up in the morning and look all glammed up – I get my eyebrows done, wax my legs, do my nails, take care of my hair, exfoliate my face and I put on makeup etc. So, don’t feel the pressure to change the colour you are born with because that is not the only thing what makes you beautiful. Everyone should know what is nice for them and what helps them look their best in any skin tone. So, for everyone who likes natural beauty and doesn’t like makeup that’s fine too. Yet, I also want to say to my girls out there who like a bold lip or eyes or both and a heavy contour, all of that can power you as well. If it makes you happy, you should go for it because it doesn’t hurt anyone else. I’m a firm believer of that.