Can Dark Be Beautiful?

dark is beautiful image

Bunty and I have covered the subject of skin lightening creams before (e.g. here: Nice Tan Lines).  A new campaign has launched in India with the slogan Dark is Beautiful.  Whilst we find this rather patronising, the aim of the campaign is to drum home the message that fair skin is not the only description of beauty and that people should be happy and proud of the colour that they are… in addition, possibly, to educate other Indians to reset their prejudices.

The skin lightening industry in India is worth over a staggering $400 million and the lightening products on offer range from face creams to a fanny wash.  Fairness = beauty = success = happiness = a guaranteed place in heaven??    The campaign has enlisted a Bollywood beauty who has complained about the urge the Indian media have to lighten her skin with photoshop before publishing her image.

dark is beautiful poster

Will the campaign make a difference?  Who knows, sitting back and doing nothing is pathetic.  That people should need educating that skin colour is irrelevant is even more pathetic but necessary.  The first image above notes that 90% of Indians are dark skinned, is this the staggering percentage of people that potentially could feel inferior?  At least this campaign is forcing a dialogue on the subject.  As a feminist I will make a closing observation on the subject… the emphasis used to be on women to be lighter skinned, particularly at the time of marriage proposals etc, however, there is an increasing pressure on men and an growing array of products targeted at them (Fair & Handsome as advertised by Shah Rukh Khan for example) at least the insecurity is equal!

You can join the campaign or follow its progress on Facebook or on the Dark is Beautiful blog.


3 Comments to “Can Dark Be Beautiful?”

  1. I read your article with a lot of interest. Everyone in my family has light or dark skin (with a few in the middle!) I know for a fact that the darker skinned girls are conscious of it and it makes me upset. You say that men now also feel under pressure to have lighter skin – I agree with you that if we are going to be messed up about it then so should they but I don’t think there is equality in this. Women are still brought up to be into a guy’s personality whereas a lot of men want a wife that their friends admire – I suppose for Indians, if a girl is light-skinned it’s a jackpot.

    Isn’t this partly to do with the rarity of light skin being attractive – light naturally blonde men and women? Shame it doesn’t work for gingers!

  2. It’s quite sad that this happens in our Indian culture where most of us are dark skinned. My personal experience was when my mom called some family for matrimonial purposes and the guy’s mom is asking how does your daughter look, is she fair??? My mom was so mad, she just hung up! I have almost given up on Indian men!

    • It really is a bizarre situation where South Asians are lightening their skin and Westerners are tanning their skin…the only real winners that i see in all this insecurity are cosmetic and pharma companies raking it in with products for all.

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