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Why Are We Okay With Black Everywhere Except On Our Own Skin?

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Disclaimer:  These incidents are not intended to suck you into the painful memory lane of the past, but it’s a small trailer of experiences that you might have had some time in your life. I mention these just so that you understand the context better.

  • “No, No, do not go swimming, you will get dark no. “
  • “I told you no need to go to any Goa voa, now see what have you made of your skin, it is dark like coal.”
  • ” How can you deny this ‘rishta‘, you know how dark she is, be thankful that this boy agreed after all nobody wants a dark bride”
  • ” See what you have made of your skin living alone, what will your in-laws say.”
  • “I don’t care if you apply perfume or not, but you definitely have to apply this ‘ubtan‘, ( homemade mask), I don’t want your father shouting at me to not being able to make you fair enough. “
  • ” I think this girl will be best for our boy, the other one is no doubt talented, but this one is fairer no!”
Image used for representational purposes only.

The above-mentioned incidents are a few remarks that I have heard in my life for myself or from other girls around me. Unfortunately, most of the times, they seemed almost normal, instead of offending. Living in this society where skin colour is much more important than virtues, good habits, behaviours, talent, skill, beauty, and character, it seemed normal that to be liked by all, it is necessary to be fair. As much as you can be. Because dark skin colour is a sign of ugliness, a sign that speaks that you are inferior and unsuitable for anyone. Listening to this on a loop since you are born, you are not equipped to think otherwise. It is sad but true.

That is the reason why, often, girls do all that can be done to be fair, even if it is spending thousands of rupees in treatment and products that claim to brighten their skin. The irony is in the fact that Lord Krishna, in Hindi mythology, stands out for his dark skin. But of course, he is a male and I don think so I need to say that at least in Indian society, the stigma of skin colour is forced more on women than men.

History has many incidents where mass protests were held to save the honour and dignity of people who are black-skinned, be it than the famous movement of Apartheid led by Nelson Mandela in South Africa or the insult of Mahatma Gandhi in same South Africa while he was a barrister there.

But what brings more shame is its absorption in the Indian society weaving it into a person’s ability, talent, and beauty, the latter being a crucial one. For decades, our advertisements have been guided by a master aim- to make all the women of the country fairer. Without a fair skin, they have to remain alone without a partner, cannot get a job, cannot succeed in school and examinations, cannot stand up with their head held high, and all of this is considered sort of disgrace to the family. A simple advertisement showing dark women suddenly turning fairy white, with just applying the cream, is an example of how the society is obsessed with fair skin and anything below it is a shame.

Every lack in the societies’ ways’, every loophole in their foundation is a big opportunity for businesses to thrive. For example, the desperation of politicians to blame each other by playing dirty games is a free cue for the news channels to encash their weakness in the form of new controversies and features. The same is the case with the beauty industry. India hosts a 500 million dollar skin whitening industry and we the citizens, we the society, and we the victims get manipulated into buying them. They give out new ways to convince us that black skin is a black spot on our personality and we should be shameful of it.

They convince us that a pea-sized amount of chemically infused solution will brighten our skin, opening doors to opportunities like handsome guys, trophies in talent competitions and all the love of the world. Unfortunately, we are easily convinced. A fairer girl is liked more among the family than the darker one, the darker being deprived of the word beautiful for herself.

And as it is said that we make the society and not vice-versa, therefore it is on us to turn the tables. It is on us to see both black and white-skinned people in the same light. It is us who can close this 500 million dollar industry by putting out there that we need not use any skin-brightening formulas.

‘Black lives matter’ is the biggest truth of the generation. People with black skin are exactly the same as everyone else. We have no right to judge someone on the basis of skin colour, as it is the colour of the heart that makes a person beautiful in the long run and not the colour of the skin.

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Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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