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On health & beauty: Obsession with lighter skin

“Here was an ugly little girl asking for beauty. A surge of love & understanding swept through him, but was quickly replaced by anger. Anger that he was powerless to help her.  Of all the wishes people had brought him- money, love, revenge- this seemed to him the most poignant and the most deserving of fulfilment. A little black girl who wanted to rise up out of the pit of her blackness and see the world with blue eyes”. (Toni Morrison)

A few days ago there was photo of a couple which went viral on social media. It came up on my timeline too and, I saw that picture of a lovely couple, with a bride sitting in beautiful wedding attire, looking happy next to her groom. Such a happy scene, yet married by the snidely comments from some trolls, which I found alarming. The comments went to an extreme just because the groom had a dark skin. We have sexism, ageism, all manners of isms, yet there is one for colour? Colourism? There is a problem here, with the society focused on the fair and lovely.

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It is vital to recognize this issue. It is nothing new but is centuries old. Colourism is a term used by Alice walker, referring to discrimination within the communities of colour.  During colonization, light skin people were favoured more over dark skin people. Colourism is oppression within oppression. This internalization of “white”, as the beauty, as the most intelligent and most desirable have led communities facing their own battle with alienation and discrimination.

Why does society give preference to people of fair complexion? Not only in Pakistan, but in most Asian countries why most actors, news anchor, models etc have fair complexion. This can be observed in many other fields too. Are they more talented?

Being under colonial rule has fueled this bias in our country. This craze is further promoted by media, which portrays fair skin people as being more successful. On television or in movie, actors and actresses apply a thick pancake layer to appear fair and thus perpetuate the importance of fair skin.

Cosmetic companies are taking full advantage of this obsession. They are selling their fairness creams which are nothing more than wasting precious money in my opinion. Cream can be a good moisturizer but it’s not something that changes your skin shade. Theses fairness products gives people hope that they can become fair, rather than accepting their skin and making the best out of it. In TV adverts they shown that a women becomes more energetic or a player suddenly became famous when their skin became fair by using skin fairness cream.

Any person with any complexion is beautiful. Don’t cry over bleaching, waxing, skin lightening creams, always enjoy what you have got. This world is full of snow white beauty ideas, it’s hard to deny, but your self-esteem should never suffer just because you have dark colour skin.

Women or men should proud of their skin shade. Ignore the beauty ideals; continue day in and day out. Look at mirror and you should say thanks to God that you are gorgeous. Don’t fight with the stereotypes who think you are not beautiful.

I met my friend few years back, and she told me a story about herself. She has dark skin. This was the biggest issue to some family members of hers about being dark. She said she was lucky that her mother never let her talk to such relatives. Because once a member of the family called her “Kaali kaloti” which was overheard by her mother. If truth to be told, from then, she said that her mother always treated her differently from her siblings who had lighter skin. “I always thought that I am more privileged than the rest of family. I always thought am so blessed to have darker skin and they didn’t have. But now I realized that my other siblings didn’t need this attention focused on their skin”.

Is it society which determines what is beautiful? My mother always encouraged me and she always connected positive and good things with my black skin. My achievements in my life are attributed by my dark skin and I think it happened all subconsciously.

The obsession with the light skin is increasing every day. Let’s talk about why dark skin is better?

Pineal gland produces melatonin. This melatonin then creates Melanin. Melanin is responsible for the pigmentation of our skin colour. It is also a natural sun block. It protects humans from harmful ultraviolet rays from sun, protect against skin cancers, radiations and Parkinsonism.

Some scientific research has shown that melanin has several other benefits too, like, reduces stress, minimizes jet lag, regulation of biological rhythm.

Unfortunately, in our country Beauty parameters are looking fairer. Always remember one thing beauty is inside you, it’s not your skin shade. Obsession to fair complexion and spending enormous amount of money is waste.

“The colour of your skin is not a cross you bear. It is beautiful”. (Unknown)

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Beauty is internal and with confidence, it radiates on the outside. Beauty is your nature, your mannerisms. It is the natural and not the forced or contrived, nor the fake or manipulated. Rubbing white foundation and being photo shopped is just an illusion. Embrace the colour which Allah has given and remember the Creator has made every face and feature unique. We need to dispel our prejudices and embrace our colour. Just look at the supermodels like Iman Bowie or Naomi Campbell. Look at the beauty icons like Beyoncé or Rihanna and you will see that beauty transcends colour and remember, beauty is only skin deep.

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