As I run a startup that offers an online platform for Indians to create their private marriage biodata, I am always browsing matchmaking sites to benchmark my product. In the process, I find out trends in how people describe themselves and their expectations for marriage, online.
Here is what I found out when I was doing research recently.
I logged into a popular online matchmaking website for arranged marriages.
I then searched for profiles of women by using a feature called keyword search. This is supposed to throw up all profiles on the site that have the keywords specified. Just like Google.
The first search term I used was ‘fair’.
I ended up with a list of 11384 profiles to sift through!
Then I randomly opened some of these profiles and almost every profile I ended up viewing used “fair” to describe their skin colour. I did not find anyone using the word “fair” to say they are “open-minded” or “equitable”.
Technically, I never had a chance to open every one of the 11384 profiles to confirm. But instincts told me, it would all the same.
Then I searched for the keyword ‘wheatish‘. This time, I ended up with just 703 profiles.
As before, I started randomly opening the profiles from the search results and wasn’t surprised to find every one of the profiles referring to their wheatish complexion. Of course, some of them used redundant phrases such as ‘wheatish brown’. I am sure I can come up with 50 shades of wheatish if I ever open and read every one of the profiles.
Finally, I punched in the search term ‘black’ and was positively surprised to see 431 search results!
However, when I started reviewing the profiles, I quickly realised that all these profiles are using the word “black” in every possible context other than complexion!
For example, I found a lot of profiles that had chosen ‘blacksmith’ as their caste. I also found someone who likes ‘black tea’.
There was one exception though. I found a woman who had a dark complexion in her profile photograph and also had the guts to declare that she considers herself to be a ‘black beauty’. However, that was just an exception.
It appears all Indian women with a black skin tone or dark complexion have completely boycotted online matrimonial sites. I am pretty sure it’s the same case with Indian men as well!
And I guess the ‘black beauty’ I found online did not get the memo.
A version of this article was first published here.