I am a Keralite, born and brought up in Mumbai. My skin complexion is somewhere between fair and dark, so I can safely say that I am a brown citizen in my country. With the recent outrage in the United States against racism, its tremors have also hit India. But, I personally feel that we Indians are the biggest hypocrites when it comes to skin colour.
We always cry foul, when we are treated as inferior in foreign countries due to our skin colour, but never cry and fight against the same when some of our people are treated the same way in our country. There are different factors that amount to the skin colour of an individual, and none of them are in the hands of the person.
Arranged marriages are the biggest torture scheme when it comes to skin colour, only next to beauty salons. I stopped going to parlours because the staff started harassing me a lot. I do not blame them, but maybe, playing with the fear and insecurity of people is the necessary for their survival.
We talk about body shaming and racism when it happens to someone abroad, but in our own country, we openly encourage the same. If you think I am lying, try going shopping if you are a plus size woman. The salesman will drown you to tears and give you a dress by doing you a favour, and charge you a bomb for the same. Once I committed the mistake of undertaking a skin treatment from someone who was a self-proclaimed skin repairer, or some crap like that.
It was meant to be eight sessions and I would go there every Saturday, post my office hours. I was around 24 years old, and trying hard to build my career, which meant sleepless nights and long working hours. I was ready to undertake the treatment because I was tired and wanted to relax. I reached her salon one evening, tired and weary, and almost slept through the treatment.
The next time when I went there, she started telling everyone that last week I was so dead and tired that it was only after her treatment that I became alive. When I arrived, my face looked like someone had slapped me. That was the last day I went for that treatment and within a couple of months, I heard that she had shut down the parlour and gone away for good. I mean if you are going to break down a person’s confidence, nobody is going to come to you.
I’d like a parlour where the beautician just asks me what I would like to do and quietly starts doing it. Yes, I would encourage a small talk with them about general things like the weather, their families or the latest trend in hair colour. But, alas, I could not find any one parlour as such.
I thought this happens only in small parlours, so I went to a big parlour in my locality. I had gone to the market to buy vegetables and was done with my chores, so I thought of getting my eyebrows done. I walked into the parlour, tired, and asked her to do my eyebrows. Firstly, the attitude of the beautician was such, as if she was doing a favour to me by treating someone so ugly.
Her expressions literally said that. Then, when I was done and about to leave, she started pitching to me her different packages, which they usually do, but adding her arrogance and attitude. I politely declined. She ended the conversation by saying that no wonder my face looks the way it does. I threw her a dirty look and walked away.
The stories are many, but the bottom line is the same. I was harassed, but that is the reason why I learnt to do my own facial and waxing. Trust me, it is much cheaper and more relaxing than getting it done from a parlour. Because you can do it at your own spare time, and the parlour people literally loot you. They use the facial pack meant for one person for atleast three or four people, and does not give you the required effect on your skin. This is why when you do facial at home, it lasts longer and you feel much better. And of course, it is much cheaper.
Our media and society has also played a major role in encouraging this skin colour sham. Our dusky Goddesses are misrepresented on television. We barely have anything left to discuss. Women during the olden days also used to take care of their skin, but they were never publicly mocked for the same; there was no beauty industry then to tell them that they did not have the right to live.
I used to vlog about law on Youtube. Firstly, it is a technical subject, in which content and the way it is explained should ideally matter. But whenever I have shared it with people, somehow, instead of giving me feedback on my content, I’ve always received feedback on how I look. That is something that recently hurt me to such an extend that I haven’t been able to vlog again, and neither am I able to put a fancy post on Instagram to do brand promotion. When the video is about a technical subject, why should it matter how dark my skin looks? I still fail to understand the logic.
I am personally not a big fan of Sonam Kapoor. I know she is a product of nepotism and wouldn’t have been where she is if not for her father. Her acting skills are pathetic, yet, whenever there are memes on her, I see people commenting more on her skin colour. She is the who had once commented that people who do not look good are the only people who can act.
Sometimes, I do not understand what people expect me to do — roam around like some Ekta Kapoor serial’s heroine? The more I try to be comfortable in my own skin, the more I get comments on how I look. But now, I have reached a stage where these things do not hurt me a lot.
Probably, it is the karma for those millions of beauticians who broke the self-respect and self-confidence of millions of women and little girls, that today, beauty industry is one of the most-affected industry due to Covid- 19. It is nothing personal, I’m just sharing what has happened with me.
I have two children, a six-year-old boy and a one-year-old girl. Every time someone meets them, the first question they ask is whom they resemble the most. Sometimes, I feel like I should walk around with a DNA report of my children’s parentage. It is painful and frustrating when people do not even leave a chance to burden these two kids with their judgment.
I am trying my best to stop people from judging each other, but I think it is much easier to make my kids stronger to resist this kind of bullying. The sad part is, this bullying is mostly practiced by the so-called respected elders of the society.
I would like to know if the same has happened with you.