Is Beauty Over-rated in India?

Posted on March 18, 2010 in Society

Shreya Krishnan:

To start off, what does beauty mean to each one of us? Is it a state of mind, perception or per se something measurable? Do we consider ourselves beautiful? Pretty tough one to answer, I agree. And there is no structured definition to understand beauty.

In a general sense, what appeals to our eyes and minds probably would be closest to calling beautiful. In India, beauty is increasingly getting associated with certain pre-defined characteristics. Beauty is synonymously used with being fair. The entire world is moving towards appreciating and loving dusky beauty, and India is moving exactly in the opposite direction. (correct me if I am wrong)

India has witnessed probably the maximum number of fairness creams in the world. No surprises here. More than half the nation is wildly thronging the market for it. Fairness creams are increasingly marketed with a strong negative message. Does fairness really contribute to success in life? And how effective are these products?

Is it actually measurable by a common man as to how his complexion has changed? And marketing of these products have a clear intent to convey the message that being fair gives you an extra advantage in life. Each Ad is competing relentlessly to prove that using their product would get you a better job, better husband and what not! Are we so shallow in our thinking to accept this? Or is this a hard truth which all of us accept deep down? Why do we want to convey a message saying that good looks get us a better chance to succeed? From a teenager to the elder, everyone seems to be hooked on to these fairness creams. Where have the tall, “dark”, handsome men gone? Why are we now insisting on fairer men? A small discussion with a dermatologist would confirm that you can only prevent a tan and not become fair. Even the educated and intelligent Indian is obsessed with fairness.

From the filmdom to a matrimonial hunt, everybody has a predefined picture of a success material. Every director wants the prettiest female as a leading lady. Every man wants his wife to be an “Aishwarya Rai”!! Are we so shallow in our thinking that we measure abilities in terms of “perspective beauty”?

I now wonder if a beautiful and fair person would stand better opportunities in life. In India, the chances are really high. From kindergarten to work place, good looks always get an extra edge. Many of us would scream our heart out saying it is unfair but deep down; we are part of this unfair discrimination.

According to me, Beauty is the depiction of the purity of spirit. As the famous phrase says it, “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder”, beauty is subjective. There is no accepted form to declare someone beautiful. I really wish people would judge beauty beneath the skin, rather than the perishable complexion.

The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.

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“increasingly getting associated with certain pre-defined characteristics.” – hasn’t it always been? I mean, looking a certain way, having a certain name, these kinds of qualifiers have always carried quite a bit of weight in our ossified society.

“entire world is moving towards appreciating and loving dusky” – such a India/World dichotomy is quite simplistic, and perhaps even incorrect. There are plenty of blogs out there bemoaning the homogenization of beauty in popular western culture (google Shakesville, for example).

“maximum number of fairness creams in the world.” – Don’t make such an unsubstantiated statement. It kinda dilutes the article. And is also, probably, hyperbole.

Disappointing article. it started of interesting, but in the end it doesn’t really convey anything that most of us do not already know. The most important question that you asked, “Does fairness really contribute to success in life?”, is left vaguely answered. and you don’t really follow up this line of questioning by positing something like why does it contribute to a success in life, and what kind of social structure assist and inhibit it.

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