Do I have to be fair to be lovely?
Better start exfoliating my skin then…
Only twice in my life have I consciously noticed myself go brown. And by brown I mean a rich chocolate colour: the first time when I went on an expedition to Mexico and second, this year Glastonbury Festival.
But why is this a ‘bad’ thing?!
Let’s rewind for anyone not in the loop.
Visiting India every year since I was born, I have noticed the penchant for having fairer skin as opposed to darker skin.
Hold your horses, any of you (perhaps of indian or Asian origin) who want to argue times have changed and this is now an archaic view – your family & your friends may have more contempory views – but the views I have noticed from traditional relatives remains much the same: fair = lovely.
The rationale is simple and stems from the earlier opinions that fairer skin was a consequence of affluence; you were wealthy enough not to have to expose your skin to the harsh rays of sun during your farm work.
Interestingly, this view has become the opposite in the West. The sun-kissed glow has become the vogue in society, suggesting financial freedom through exotic holidays.
So how does being ‘British Indian Bengali’ come into this?
Well for one, being ‘fair’ has become a well-sought after trait. Much like the (fake) tanning products that make up aisles down our local drugstore, the same goes for ‘skin lightening’ products (for males as well as females) in Asian and some African countries.
These are taken to the next level though in matrimonial ads.
Let’s leave the topic of matrimonial ads as a whole.
But here’s what doesn’t quite sit right with me.
‘Seeking ‘fair and lovely’ girl for equally ‘fair and handsome’ son.
Now, I appreciate the aim of an ‘ad’ is to achieve a ‘hard sell’.
I strongly dislike the fact these ads are placing an emphasis on ‘fair’ being equated to ‘lovely’ and ‘handsome’ similar to their namesake branded lightening creams.
Clearly the argument works both ways. We are being bombarded with images in the UK and otherwise about being bronzed and tips on keeping our holiday tan.
Let’s go back to the one time in Mexico.
I remember emailing my mum ‘warning’ her I’d gotten quite brown and to be prepared for some comments when we visited India that following week.
Lo and behold, I got a barrage of ‘Chi (Oh dear), you’d gotten so dark!’
7 years on, I still don’t ‘love’ basking in the sun but these are for different reasons.
I’m less concerned about what people think of my skin tone –
(I’m human so I won’t lie and say I’m completely immune to what people think of me but I have become a lot better!)
-for me, I’ve learnt what’s right for me.
A little bit of colour on my skin, yes. We all need a healthy dose of the sun’s rays after all but I hate the thought of damaging my skin through basking in the sun for too long.
I won’t ever be a person that voluntarily goes out to sit in the midday sun – mostly because I end up feeling too hot and bothered, I prefer to enjoy the sun from the coolness of the shade!
What’s right and what’s wrong & Do I have answer to all of this?
Not really apart from concluding that media and I guess society as a whole has convinced us that we’re just not good enough the way we are. We’re apparently not ‘tanned’ or ‘fair’ enough. ‘Banish those wrinkles’.
Perhaps I’m being hopelessly naïve but I just wish there was more to encourage and to inspire others that there is so much more to the definition of beauty, success and happiness that we’re led to believe every day when we log on to the internet or flip open the TV or a magazine.
For me, beauty is having the confidence to be authentically, unapologetically oneself whilst success is fulfilling one’s potential.
I want to have the confidence to grow old with grace, confident in the knowledge that the times that really matter show by the way I carry myself and in my whole demeaner.
I want to embrace the have the laugh lines –
Which show those times I laughed so hard I cried with my friends, my family and my loved ones.
I want to embrace those forehead lines
Because they show
If I can live my life as authentically as possible and exceed all the expectations I have for myself then I’m pretty sure I’d be wearing my ‘wrinkles’ as a badge of honour rather than trying to hide them. What better way to show the world you have made the most of every single precious moment on this weird place called Earth?!