If you have read any Indian blog with Feministic or Politically correct sensibilities chances are high that you would read some post about dark women being considered unpretty in India and how sad, rude it is. While I appreciate the thought behind these posts I often wonder whether it is really that big a deal. I am dark. Approximately the color of a good Chocolate Milkshake these days and more like Dairy Milk Silk when I was a child. I hope we got that question out of the way.
Usually there are two ways these arguments go.
Argument One: The matrimonial Ads say they want Fair girls and the parents of Fair girls also flaunt their daughter’s skin tone and all this is so vulgar. Are people going to live with a skin tone rather than a person? This is shallow. This is politically incorrect, etc. A woman’s heart should be white, not her skin. Blah Blah.
Argument Two: Dark women are soooooooo pretty. Those who do not think so do not understand what good looks is all about. Americans chose a dark Miss America, but we never choose dark Miss India. Blame it on the judges or blame the girl’s background that did not encourage dark and pretty girls to enter modelling etc etc.
Both these arguments very often co-exist in the minds of the same persons even though they are actually quite different from each other. The first argument says that “Yes, dark people are not as pretty as fair people. Shall we shush about it already?”. Phrased that way it is the exact opposite of Argument #2 which basically seems to say how beautiful a woman is is very important. Only they want to remove skin tone from the beauty criteria.
In other words, I don’t let you win either way. 😀
So what is my own take on the subject? It is a combination of the following points.
1. There is something called Beauty. We all know this instinctively even if we say platitudes like “All women are beautiful in their own way” and “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder”. Sure, who you consider beautiful and who I consider ravishing may not sync 100% but women like Hema Malini and Sridevi are very beautiful. It is ok to acknowledge this. It is also OK to acknowledge that Mangoes are tastier than Spinach. Call a spade a spade. Be Honest.
2. It is true that beauty is not skin color alone. Height, Weight, Hip-Waist Ratio, Clearness of Skin, shape of eyes, nose, mouth and over all shape of face do play a huge part. Most of us know this. But if a fair girl with not too great features is being hailed as a beauty queen then good for her, let us not grudge her her popularity. If a dark girl with great features is not being hailed for her looks, then so what? There are many other things in life more important that being hailed as a beauty queen. Right? So what if some guy and his parents reject her marriage profile? There will be plenty of options. Better ones. Nobody wants an idiot for a husband anyway.
3. All other things being the same, fair really is prettier than dark. Also, thin is prettier than fat. Tall is prettier than short. There is nothing wrong with this. Sure, many people dig dark girls, fat girls and petite girls. Tastes do differ to a certain extent. Some people insist that they like darker people much better. I am not suggesting that they are lying. But sometimes people try to convince us that dark skin is actually a trophy. You do not have to go that far. (Please note that I have explained myself in more detail in the comments section. )
4. Point 3 certainly has its limits. There is nothing pretty about being too fair or too thin or too tall. But then, you cannot choose your body from some a la carte list. Many people assume that very thin girls are anorexic. This must be very annoying. It is just as impolite to ask a girl to put on weight as it is to ask her to lose weight. I absolutely hate it when people tut tut about Tamannah being too fair. They almost make it sound as if she went shopping for skin and came back with the wrong shade.
5. Many people respond to this topic with how much more important a kind heart is. This is true. But can you imagine a Matrimonial Ad saying something like “Bride Wanted. Should not be a bitch. Should have reasonable IQ and a non-gossipy nature.”? People assume that the girl is sweet and kind and lovable. Skin tone is an extra. Let people who want to shop for fair-skinned brides go ahead and do this. Let them be.
6. When I muse on Point 5, I get aware of a certain advantage unpretty girls have over pretty ones. It is easier for an unpretty girl to filter out shallow people. Pretty girls need to endure the attention of plenty of morons. (I have a separate post coming on this topic)
7. A small anecdote. A guy complimented me for my looks. I thanked him with a polite smile. I believe this is standard procedure. He told me that it is because my eyes were pretty. I thanked him again. Contrary to popular belief, women do not want odes to our beauty. It is actually more annoying than complimentary. Then he asked me if anyone had EVER told me this. He stressed the EVER with gusto. I was annoyed already. I said “Yes”. He said “Chaa”. Apparently he thought he was the only person in this wide wild world who EVER noticed this. This is not a compliment anymore it suddenly turned into an insult. Moreover he is now a certified moron. I do not converse with morons. Especially the male variety. For they like Kadalai. End of Story.
8. Love her or Hate her, nobody ever denied that Silk Smitha had oodles of sex appeal. Tamil Nadu’s most famous siren had dark skin. She never tried to hide it. There are not that many pictures in which they tried to make her look unnaturally fair.
9. Everything applies to Men as well.
10. I should add here that I am not including atrocious practices like where parents of darker girls are made to pay more dowry etc. But I feel in such cases the dowry system itself should be targeted for our disapproval not just the price tag given to various attributes of the brides and grooms.