The concept of ‘race’ and interlinked ideas like ‘fairness’ have been plaguing society for long. These concepts assumed importance as people began to live in divided societies. White people, generally attributed to the West, colonised Africa and Asia, imposing their laws and customs over every sector. In this manner, the oppression meted out by the whites over non-whites became more common across the colonised regions in these continents.
The slave trade which subordinated black people, making them serve the whites, imposed the concepts of ‘superiority ‘and ‘fairness’ of the oppressor over the oppressed. While Americans, Britishers and many European people (especially the rulers) felt that they were good at everything, including ‘neatness’ and ‘fairness’. In India, these concepts were applied by the upper castes who felt that lower caste people (like the Dalits) and manual labourers were not ‘fair’, as most of these people were ‘ugly’ and ‘colored’, according to the established upper-caste mindset.
This divide sharpened as time passed, and thus, the present-day obsession with fairness is a continuation of the past legacy, with some more modifications which include economic and social discrimination.
The commercial capitalist world is exploiting these notions and making money by advertising and luring people to buy their ‘creams’, with the promise of making them look ‘white’ and ‘fair’. Most upper-caste people who feel that they are not ‘white’ or ‘fair’ enough, use these creams in order to cover their actual skin colour if it is not white or fair. Most lower-caste people also succumb to the same idea and buy these commercial products to match their skin tones with those of the ‘fairer’ people.
This obsession with ‘fairness’ is helping only the business houses who produce and sell the creams by exploiting these sentiments. This trend is harmful to society because it creates a false sense of superiority of some people over others.
Instead, the stress should be on health and fitness. People should be educated that it is possible to lead a happy and healthy life, irrespective of the colour of their skin. Health transcends race, colour, gender, fairness, etc. and is important to all. Equality can be achieved only if the thought process of people changes from physical or superficial beauty to a healthy mindset. Everyone- whether white or coloured, ‘fair’ or ‘less fair’- should try to be fit and healthy and live a happy stress-free life.
Instead of using cosmetics, creams or ointments for enhancing physical beauty, we should shift our focus to having good, nutritious food which not only improves our health but also facilitates a better physical outlook. After all, mental beauty is fairer than any other beauty. ‘Fairness’ is a concept that differs from person to person. A ‘fair’ person to one may not look that ‘fair’ to another, as everyone has their own perception of fairness. Hence, I believe that good health is important for all.