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!

March 2, 2012

An ideal Indian woman?

By Kavitha Emmanuel | Director, WOW

We often conclude that our worth is based on what we do or how we look. And for many of us, especially women, what we see in the mirror – or what we think we see in the mirror – shapes much of our identity. Added to these notions are our society’s norms on how a girl or a woman should look and behave. The Media sends us confusing messages about who we are and what we should look like often capitalizing on the norms that are already found in our society.

An ideal Indian woman! Who is she? She is tall, slim, with well defined features and FAIR!  
What do we read when we open the matrimonial sections of our newspapers? Have you ever tried to count the number of ‘fairness’ advertisements that you are exposed to on television everyday? It seems the marketing universe would have us believe that the majority of Indian girls and women need to lighten up!
Based on the Global Village Theory, if we were to shrink the whole world into a village of 100 people, 70 of us would be colored! And we are a nation made of up people with different shades and colours of skin – from yellow to light brown and darker shades of brown. To set ‘fair’ as the norm of beauty is so ‘Un-Fair.’

The Dark is Beautiful campaign is all about spreading the message that beauty is beyond colour. We are all citizens of one nation– tall or short , men or women, children or adults, Fair or Dark. Why make a big deal about skin colour when you are beautiful just the way you are?

Is it possible for us to shed our bias against dark skin and give everyone a ‘fair chance’ to be accepted, loved and represented in all walks of life?

Yes, it is possible!