March 12, 2012

On Raising Children

By Kavitha Emmanuel | Director, WOW

The issue of skin colour goes deeper than we would like to admit. It is actually more than just ‘skin’ deep; it is in our hearts. How does this bias against people of a darker skin colour, really affect the way we live and relate to others? 

I have a daughter who is 5 years old. I would like to describe her skin colour as 'golden brown'. She is my honey bunch. My hope and dream for her is that she will grow up believing that she is beautiful just the way she is. In South India, she probably does not fall in the category of being dark-skinned, but neither is she really fair. 

I am, at the moment, considering adopting a child. I have asked myself this question, “What is my preference, in terms of skin colour, for the child I would like to adopt?"  My first thoughts were that he or she should be of a similar skin tone to that of our daughter. I couldn't bear the thought of one of them being darker than the other and have people make comparisons or comments that would be hurtful to them. I would not want them, in turn, to compare themselves to each other and, perhaps, echo the unfortunate but common opinion that the lighter one is better. I do empathize with parents who are faced with this situation. As parents we want the best for our children. 

We live in a world where we suffer discrimination in various aspects of life - rich against the poor, upper caste against the lower caste, men against women. We discriminate on the basis of religion, profession, designation, status and SKIN COLOUR! Let's wake up to a new world where we spread love and acceptance rather than prejudice or bias.
If I adopt a child and he or she is dark-skinned, I will do all I can to let my children know how beautiful they are. I will teach both my children to rise above the limitations that the world might try to place on them because of skin colour. We need to teach our children to soar!


  1. I love that the issue of skin colour biases is finally being discussed. Being brown skinned myself, I've grown up thinking that fairer girls were prettier that I was. This belief was instilled my comments I heard from people around me. "She's dark, but not bad looking." "He wants a fair bride."

    I decided that I would do things differently when I had kids. As fate would have it, I married a Kashmiri (fair!). My kids aren't dark but skin colour is never discussed in my home. Hence, my daughter always chooses dark haired and 'brown' dolls over the blue eyed, fair blondes that most of us were obsessed over.

    Of course, she will soon learn about the bias, because she watched TV where Fair and Lovely is trying hard to brain wash our daughters. But by then I think we would have positively influenced her enough to know what real beauty means.

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  3. It is so important for us to start talking about ANY kind of discrimination at home, with our own children. This is where they start forming ideas and perceptions, and it is our responsibility as parents to make sure we do right by them.

  4. As you know we are a rainbow family. Each of the 6 of us have a different colour of skin. Skin colour was never an issue until we adopted Phoebe from India. She immediately noticed that mummy was white, daddy was brown, the other kids were "a little bit brown" and she was black. She still to this day gets upset that she isn't white like mummy.
    Even when she was in the adoption centre the staff nick-named her keeping (apologies for my spelling -this is just the way I pronounce the word). When I asked my husband what they calling her, he replied "blackly". This upset me a great deal. I asked them to stop calling her that. We had changed her name to Phoebe from her Hindu name. Phoebe, meaning bright , shining one.
    In fact we only got the opportunity to adopt Phoebe because she was so dark in skin colour. She'd had her 3 domestic attempts and each one had failed because of her skin colour. The final couple who came to "view her" only got as far as seeing her arm hanging out of her cot. They told the social worker that she was too dark. She was classified as special needs because of her dark skin and this gave us the chance as foreigners to adopt her.
    I, as a white woman think dark is absolutely gorgeous, hence my reason for marrying an Indian guy a not a pale, sickly looking Irish man!
    I do however see the pain in my little girl's life because she is so dark, even though we try to celebrate her colour and talk about it in a positive way. Of course for her, colour is all about being accepted and her sense of belonging.
    How can we further promote dark skin? I really don't know. But I will do all in power to do my bit.
    I congratulate you girls on your efforts to celebrate dark skin colour.
    I can't wait wait to return to India, where I'll be able to help in my corner.

  5. Hi, I discovered this blog while searching people who discuss the Fair and Lovely issue. I'm happy I found this blog!
    I also wrote an article about it on my blog. Not scientifically correct maybe, but they are my thoughts.

    I hope people keep discussing this issue and not being discouraged!