Yes, I have been called mean names in school on account of being dark.
Yes, I have been rejected in the matrimonial space by parents of several non-eligible bachelors.
Yes, I have not been chosen to occupy the front line of dancers for a show.
Yes, I have been reminded of my colour several times at my workplace.
Yes, I have been asked at beauty product stores if I needed a fairness cream.
Yes, I was asked to cut a cake during my farewell at work which said, ‘Goodbye Blacky.'
Yes, I have created content for a fairness cream.
Dark, darker, darkest. Once you have been identified with a shade of dark, you are doomed to face one or all of those incidents stated above. With all the incidents mentioned above, I was surrounded by educated civilised humans who knew what they were doing.
Blatant taunts are many. But I can also go on and on about subtle references to my colour made by friends, relatives and colleagues at office, parties, or social gatherings. I have chosen to ignore these comments or appear unaffected by them. But deep down inside, as all of who have been in this situation know, I feel the sting.
I used to read and re-read the promises of fairness products. I would smear them all over myself and wait for the promised magical change. I hoped, in vain, to change something I had been born with. It was my desperate attempt to be wanted, to be accepted in the ‘fair world’. And then, something happened.
I was asked to create content for a leading fairness product. I experienced a stab of guilt. I had fallen prey to those false promises, and now I was being asked to convince others. I decided to research the fairness product—I was appalled at what I discovered.
Research reveals that, ‘No cream which promises fairness really does so. Creams have ingredients which improve your complexion and fairness is only a figment of your imagination. In other words, commercials play games with the insecure figment of your imagination.’
Research also shows that that sales of a category of fairness creams has increased/ doubled post the continuous screening of a commercial or a promising print ad. Brands take their cue from this pattern and pool in a massive budget to promote their products. In short, it is the consumers who are the creators of this colossal demand in the market.
Life is not fair, and I know it. We all know it. But when faced with staunch prejudice, we do have a choice. We can choose to seek refuge in products that promise us conventional fairness or we can choose to be different from the rest.
Forget the colour you were born with and focus on attaining a healthy and supple skin. Having a great complexion regardless of colour boosts your confidence.
This has been my learning: Stand apart, create a niche and make yourself heard through your actions. All you needs is confidence and attitude! Face every taunt with a smile. Be unnerved and harbour that fierceness in you. Look into the eyes of those who taunt you and say, "Yes! I am dark, and I am beautiful."
Disclaimer: The opinions and views expressed here are my own and do not represent my employer, either past or present or anyone else that I'm affiliated with.
The Sreeja Raveendran Story is a part of the Surviving Discrimination posts. If you have overcome skin colour bias and would like to share your story to inspire change among young men and women, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
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