Dusky is such a pretty word

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.

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53 thoughts on “Dusky is such a pretty word

  1. Madhu says:

    Rahini, you just bet me to this! 🙂 I was writing a post and it’s still incomplete. We agree in some differ in some opinions…let me coher my thoughts and come back to this with my complete post.

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  2. Madhu says:

    WRT to #3:
    I do not agree that fair is prettier than dark. There are some dark woman whom I know (and don’t consider beautiful) whose complexion if moved to the fair side of the scale would do nothing to their beauty. Same with not beautiful (no, I am not calling not beautiful as ugly, there is something in-between the two) fair woman. If they get a tan tomorrow, again, it wouldn’t get their prettiness a notch down. What, in all this jalebi-fashion I am trying to say is, beauty is beauty – it is a convergence of so many factors (just like you have said so, I was nodding my head when I read through that line). After the final product is made the increase or decrease to the other factors like facial structure/weight may be contribute to the improvement, but I really don’t think complexion adds or detracts it.

    But to make us aware that dark or fair, beauty is beauty, people shouldn/t start advocating for dark complexion; it sounds like a defensive tactic, leading to the impression that as if dark skin needs to be defended. It doesn’t.

    http://www.storypick.com/dad-became-my-superhero/
    The narration (I hope it is indeed a true story) here is a really good one. It explains how telling a beautiful woman that she should never consider herself less just because she is dark, is actually something that people with extreme amount of prejudice do. It is as if to say, you are not beautiful and only intelligent and kind-hearted. I am not denying that intelligence and kind-heartedness are much more important, but why emphasize too much on it only to a dark skinned woman?

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  3. Madhu: I hear you on what points you raise. However,I need to buy time to reply to what you have said here and in your blog. I have not fully gone through the blog yet. Will need to bue time for that too.

    And, never be embarrased about plugging in a friends blog. 😀

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  4. Madhu: I think I will put down a few thoughts to make the point 3 clearer.

    1) So you say in your post about your friend who is usually Jothika-coloured tanned a few shades and though she still was gorgeous everybody started giving tips for tan reversal. So about 90% of the population believes that her looks went down a notch along with shade. 9% of the population thinks she is the same. 1% feels she now looks hotter. All in all her beauty went down 0.91 notches. For beauty by its very definition is what other people think. What your friend herself thinks is more important than all the others put together. But that is self-worth, not beauty. That is not the topic of this post.

    2) The other thing is, what if your friend’s shade became darker by many, many shades and she is now not vanilla or caramel or chocolate but coffee decotion? The following link discusses the topic is detail.
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ButNotTooBlack

    3) I am not denying that some people like Balu Mahendra “prefer” dark looks. But exceptions prove the rule rather than disprove it.

    4) There is a forward message that is titled “The darkest baby in the world”. I thought “What a darling, I wish I can hold that baby in my arms. Such a doll.” Another friend thought “Cha Paavam illa?” Her reaction is just as valid as mine. Her criteria is different from mine. That is all.

    5) Some people think Vishal is ugly. There are people who think dark looks dirty. I am not talking about those morons here.

    6) Basically I am talking about the “Dark is 7 times prettier” sayings here. I have known people who will mouth these sayings with a wise serene smile. Ask them to cross a road without an umbrella and the wise serene smile disappears. I could live without the hyposcrisy and condescension. “Karuppa irunthaalum Kalaiaana mugam” is still a compliment for it is usually mouthed by more honest people.

    7) I am not talking about whites and blacks here. Just Indians, the only type of human I know about.

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  5. Madhu says:

    #1: No, it wasn’t a you are not looking so beautiful right now kind of advice. It was more intended towards telling her that she can regaining her complexion is the ‘only’ way to ensure that she can remain beautiful. I am of course driving this conclusion from the memory of the assorted comments and the tone. On another note, her ‘admirers’ in the office weren’t deterred by her tanned self, let me assure you. Moreover, contrary to all popular belief, one doesn’t get that tanned as we think.

    #2: Tanned or not, one doesn’t move so much away from the shade they are born with. Even if you get tanned, your original color will always be back. vice versa is also true (I am the apt example for this, I went more pale the past winter and now, I am back to the complexion I was born with). I had talked about her example, more to say, how we always think of tanning as a bad thing. I had also said in my previous comment how a not-so-beautiful person does not get beautiful by getting fair or vice versa. Let me modify it slightly: A person if moved to the other end of the shade card becomes ugly and a person getting tanned or pale to a certain degree, does nothing to their beauty, by which I am trying to explain that ‘getting fair’ is not going to make you beautiful. I loved your example of Silk Smitha, something me and my father will always talk about when this complexion topic crops up at home. Had she been fair, she would have been yet another Disco Shanti and the likes. For her, the dark skin tone was very much the sex appeal, IMHO. And, let us not forget Rajnikant. When Shankar painted him white in Sivaji, he looked nothing short of horrible. Both these people when madeup (2 coats of paint, let us assume) look pretty much the same way they do without makeup. In the same way, Jothika when painted dark in Pachaikili Muthucharam, it didn’t suit her; but when she was made slightly darker for Perazhagan (and made to look particularly kazhaikoothadi like) looked quite natural.

    I agree with your #4, #5 and #6 in the above comment. Very true, if it is indeed an honest opinion, nothing to deny or deter or condemn it. To each their own. As for #7, I am talking only about Indians too, I might be out of the Country, but I am not proficient enough to study foreigners’ psyche yet; ours is varied and fascinating enough.

    Rahini, we are almost agreeing except for a single thing. What I am trying to say here and in my post is that, we as Indians who actually have a skin tone that varies between ten shades of brown have been conditioned to believe that the shade closest to white is the best. We tend to think only fair is beautiful, and this I feel is wrong.

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  6. 🙂 Liked the post. Found myself nodding in agreement over most of it. “A kind heart is more important’ is one of the platitudes that I find most irritating – mostly, it is very condescending, very patronising. And equally insulting to both beautiful women, and not-so-beautiful women. In my opinion, a) it makes the assumption that a beautiful woman is always a bi!ch. b) it assumes that having a kind heart should make up for being, shall we say, ‘looks-challenged’.

    If there is nothing wrong with being dark or being not-so-pretty or (insert patronage of your choice), then there should be nothing wrong with being fair, or being pretty. Right? Nope. Apparently, in this PC world, one should never be fair/pretty. Those who are, are brainless dodos. And those who admire them are shallow jerks who don’t see the beautiful ‘soul’ of the dark girl next to them. Bah, humbug!
    (Disclaimer: I’m not preternaturally fair. On a good day, I might be called ‘pretty’. Certainly, I’m not ‘beautiful’, except to my husband. He has had glasses from the time he was a kid, so he needs to be excused for his delusions. )

    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.

    I agree with it completely, by the way, especially if I were the woman being rejected. However, by this time, the poor girl has already been brandished in front of many, many idiotic men and their even more idiotic parents. Each subsequent rejection is like digging into an open wound. Not to mention hearing her worried parents talk about how hard it is to get her married off. Or relatives passing (gleefully) ‘sympathetic’ comments about how they shouldn’t worry; someone will see her ‘kind’ soul. (Doesn’t it always happen in films?) However confident you are, this is bound to affect your self-esteem. (The fact that marriage is the be-all and end-all of a girl’s life, seems to me, is itself self-esteem lowering!)

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  7. Ah, is it not a diamond mine topic? So many gems.

    Anu: yes, I wanted to write about the fair bimbo topic too. I wanted to finish the darkness topics first and get it out of the way so we can discuss the problems faced by cute girls separately. Stay tuned.

    Madhu: I am not saying it is possible to tan so much. I am saying that we accept variations in shade only to a certain degree. I am saying that “dark is not a criteria at all” point is not always true.

    As for the treatment your friend was given, you already agree that her true admirers were not deterred. Also, I don’t believe that those who commented very negatively to her slightly tanned skin were being that honest. They come across as people who were very jealous of her looks and the fact that she had admirers and jumped at a chance to put her down as much as possible in the small opportunity they got.

    I had reserved this point for my next post (on the disadvantages of being very pretty). It is a rather unruly post too, so you may have to wait a bit.

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  8. Madhu: Very often people strongly believe that they are a minority in “knowing” the prettiness of dark people. But they are not the minority at all. That is what I mentioned in my anecdote about the guy who tried to smooth talk me. Your thought is actually more common than you think. You have mentioned about your sons dark complexion and eventual reversal. Trust me, he is not going to have a difficult life either way. He will have plenty of female admirers. 🙂

    The point I am making here is not that fairness needs to be an important factor in our calculation of attractiveness. But to say that it is not a factor AT ALL sounds just as extreme as saying it is the ONLY factor.

    And you have made me aware of one thing that I did not write in my own comments. Fair good looks is associated with innocence and dark good looks with naughtiness and sexiness in Tamil cinema. Silk smita, jothika in pachaikili muthucharam, nirosha in AgniN, Anu Agarwal in thiruda thiruda etc. Again, it is possible to be offended by this categorisation. It is also possible to celebrate it. I just happen to choose the latter.

    Other dark people are welcome to disagree. That is the thing with double edged swords. They cut both ways. 🙂

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  9. Madhu says:

    Yes, like I said…we only disagree that the fair is beautiful is the common concept. I honestly believe (and still do with incidents in my life as witness) that it is the general mentality and it rankles me pretty badly.

    BTW, did you just compare me and that moron?! You didn’t right? Please tell me no! 😀

    Let me reiterate…my only disagreement with you is that, people in general ‘only’ tell dark women(irrespective of their beauty) that kind heart and brilliant mind are much more important than beauty. Needless to say, this white face night heart is not something I subscribe to, that is the other end of this drivel.

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  10. Madhu: “BTW, did you just compare me and that moron?! You didn’t right? Please tell me no!”. Actually I wanted to clarify that even before you asked but did not get aroung to type a comment on that. Sorry about that. 😦

    As I said, yours is a politically correct stance and though I do not agree that it is a big deal, I see the sense in it. I may not have disagreed with you if I were a fairer person and I saw people darker than me being prosecuted for their looks. As a part of the dark people demographic, I am able to be more indulgent towards people with a fair-skin bias. Of course, this is as long as they are polite about it. If they try to put me down, I will know how to deal with it. A dark lady had written that she is annoyed when sales girls of health&glow insist she buy products that make her fairer. That happens to me all the time, but I as long as I know that the sales girl means well, I don’t see why I should be offended about the implication that I could do with a little skin lightening. Some people take it as an insult, others as a fairly common sales pitch.

    That dude’s attitude was actually very different. He was acting as if he was given me alms and expected thankfulness and devotion in return. When he saw that I wasn’t really thrilled, he took that to mean that I did not really believe him and kept saying “Nejamaanga”. He was a true-blue moron. The jokes were trite and came across as desperate to impress. When I later begged him to stop his attempts to impress/please me, his final pitch was “Try to understand. I really like you, I am impressed and I never met intelligent women before”. Seriously? “I NEVER MET INTELLIGENT WOMEN BEFORE?” That is your pickup line? Your mommy must be thrilled to bits. One of these days I should probably put up a post on gag-worthy pickup lines and why they are gag-worthy. 😉

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  11. Madhu says:

    And I was about to say that since I am in the mid-range demographics, I know the pain of either side; sometimes at the same time. May be that is what made me think this way. Uhmm, definitely something to muse about.
    Oh these insults masquerading as compliments are extremely annoying. You write the post, I will add examples 😀

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  12. Shalini says:

    Interesting post and discussion!

    While I agree with some of the points you make – the offensiveness of the patronizing consolations such as “your beautiful inside” offered to the dark-skinned for instance, I vehemently disagree with the notion that fair skin is *inherently* prettier than dark skin. Although it shouldn’t color [Ha! :-)] the discussion, I guess I should disclose that I’m way out on the fair end of the brown-skin spectrum. However, if someone where to ask me which I found more attractive, “beige” or “caramel” I would unhesitatingly say “caramel” because caramels are a lot tastier than bagels and everything in life comes down to food for me. 😀

    More seriously, as Madhu said perceptions of beauty are a result of a combination of factors and not only is there no absolute objective evaluation criteria associated with any of the factors, it is also not possible to parse out how much any given factor contributes to someone’s assessment of another’s beauty. I think most of us evaluate and form opinions based on the *entire package* rather than a single aspect.

    I agree that Indian society has a general preference for fair skin over dark, but I disagree that this is an innocuous preference. At an individual level, sure it doesn’t matter, but when that preference is “institutionalized”, if you will, into a rigid template of what is and isn’t beautiful, then I think that has serious and toxic consequences for society at large. If nothing else, how does it make sense to privilege fair skin in a nation that is overwhelmingly dark?

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  13. Shalini: Thank you for your comment.

    Regarding your “If nothing else, how does it make sense to privilege fair skin in a nation that is overwhelmingly dark?”. Privileging fair skin exists only because the nation is overwhelmingly dark. People in societies where the skin tone of the majority does not vary greatly tend to obssess about body weight and form instead. I say “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.” I can say the same about chubby women in the west. There are so many articles about how their BMI affected everything from having a boy friend to getting a job. It is the same thing really. Here the Matrimonials ask for fair girls, and there the dating options of a chubby person dwindles and they hit the gym with a vengence and body shaming is taken to a whole new level.

    Regarding the “I vehemently disagree with the notion that fair skin is *inherently* prettier than dark skin”. As already pointed out by Madhu, people like Rajinikanth look good ONLY in their own natural skin tone. I believe that is the very point Shankar makes in Sivaji. He gives us a taste of a fair Rajini for a 5 minute time and then points out that it just does not work, so would the Real Rajinikanth please wash out his grease paint and come back to normal? Thank you very much. But when I say ” All other things being the same, fair really is prettier than dark.” I mean something else entirely. Let me explain.

    You say “I think most of us evaluate and form opinions based on the *entire package* rather than a single aspect.” Yes we do, but the point I am going for is this. I believe that we give a +4.8 or a -2.3 for certain factors pretty unconsiously. This is apparent in the way we go out of the way to congratulate (or atleast secretly admire) those who have recently lost weight, and discreetly avoid the topic when someone has gained a couple of kilos. IMO, Kushboo aces over Gautami or Amala (as they look now in their mid 40s). That is because of several small and non-quatifiable factors. I admit that I have given Kushboo a -2 for body weight and Gautami and Amala a +2.5. Kushboo still aces with a wide margin. This + and – become because of and inspite of in our everyday language.

    Kushboo is hot in spite of her weight. George Clooney is sexy in spite of his age, Surya is handsome in spite of his height, Satyaraj looks macho because of his height, Sibiraj is not as charismatic as his father inspite of his height, so on and so forth. What I do not believe is that when it comes to skin tone we should keep a respectful silence and never ever say in spite of. Ambika and Radha ruled the roost together. Ambika was fairer, Radha had better features. I do not think it is wrong to say that using words like “Though Ambika was fairer …” or “In spite of Ambika having fairer skin …”.

    Also, I believe that the + and – weightage for men and women are quite different. For women, the skin tone is given higher weightage than height. It is the other way around for men. And when I say that, I do not say that short men cannot be sexy. How can I say that when Surya is around? They can be very sexy, but in spite of their height

    All this said, I believe that in normal day to day interactions, it is better to not give + or – points for any of the beauty factors and completely disregard it and take people as they are.

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  14. Madhu says:

    Rahini, that was a great comment. I totally agree with Shalini. And I agree with you, except for the fair is more than dark, as usual. Especially the kushboo example, how true that is! If there are two actresses in their mid-forties who look awesome, it is Kushboo and Radhika. But, I realized something. All the people who have agreed with me, both in person and here in the blog, seem to be mid-range to fair-fair. I am beginning to see that it is probably easier to forgive and indulge when you are on the dark side. Hmm…

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  15. Madhu: Actually you did not disagree with me at all. In fact you already agreed with me when you gave me the example of your recently tanned fair skin. You already feel that darker skin is given a negative point. Your point actually is that the negative marking is usually much higher than it ought to be. It is.

    But just as I should not argue with you that your rating of Radhika is wrong, I should not argue with people who rate Amala higher than I would. Nothing is a wrong evaluation of looks. But political correctness should not get in the way of looks evaluation. But it does in this particular topic. When political correctness enters the picture, honesty can only leave in silence.

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  16. Madhu says:

    Oh, you don’t think Radhika is as beautiful as Kushboo? I always feel so. In fact she is one of the artistes whom I think has aged gracefully; unlike Nadhiya, who hasn’t aged at all. That is entirely a different thing. But, Amala has lost what is called the ‘oomph’ factor as she has aged.

    Your point actually is that the negative marking is usually much higher than it ought to be. It is.
    That about sums it up. But, my post and my view are not about political correctness at all. Yes, I understand you are not accusing it to be, but I am just putting it out there.

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  17. Madhu: Radhika improved with age. She was nothing to write home about in the movie with Bakyaraj where he and his friends try to impress her. Radhika and Ramya Krishnan have aquired a rather intimidating no-nonsense aura, whereas Kushboo retained a rather unique type of charisma. A charisma that seems to suggest that she still has a school girl level optimism and college girl level enthusiasm but not in a giggly way. She appears to be a middle-aged woman who does not believe that the world is out to get her. That is weird because she did face a lot of well publicised problems in life.

    In a way, I feel that I am (in my mid 30s) aquiring a Radika type aura, rather than the Kushboo type aura. So I don’t feel the same “How on earth is that lady pulling it off?” admiration for Radhika though I admit she aged well. Until a certain age, beauty is about eyes and nose and figure (and perhaps color). But as the years go by the aura is everything.

    And I should really thank you for the Kitty Party style engaging arguments. 😀

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  18. My biggest peeve with skin color discussions is that in India , we seem so bloody obsessed with skin color. I know 9 and 10 yr old kids in my family being made very conscious about their skin color. My nieces and nephews being compared on the basis of skin color etc. It gets to my nerves so badly,I am unable to stop ranting. Everybody is left wondering why am I getting so worked up about something (they consider) so silly. Somehow in a indirect way , a dark skinned person is always made to feel like it’s a mistake.

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  19. Hi, coming back here, since I didn’t have another venue to mail you. Thank you for fighting the good fight, in a more compassionate tone than me on Rangan’s blog. I’m sorry to say but it didn’t work. 🙂 The more I read of her, the more I want to commit suicide or murder.

    That said, lots of interesting discussion happening here. Let’s just say that in a fair country, dark skin is exoticised and lusted after. So they tan and use bronzers and so on. I think it is just that we all want what we do not have.

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  20. Srinivas and Anu: I have heard that if we are all born of the same height, weight and color one morning, we will find a way to prejudice or previlege someone by noon. I believe we have exoticised skin tone in that way. We will never be able to change certain attitudes. So I try to see if they mean well or not. So I am always open with “well-meaning” advice.

    Personally I am able to clearly see why people prefer fairer skin tones. I can not say that I don’t see any difference at all. I certainly do not appreciate sayings like “Karuppu thaan azhagu” (which means darker is more beautiful) from people who will not follow up such sayings with real action like
    1. forgoing use of their own fairness creams.(If you love dark skin so much, what are you fighting against?)
    2. Willingness to date darker people. (or consider them for their children)
    3. showing a willingness to tan by spending time in the sun

    I am not including people who really are allegic to heat exposure. But very often I have known why they object so much to a little sun exposure and that is the horror of getting darker. Some times when back from the beach, people (who claimed to have zero darkness bias) look at their mirror reflection in horror. The look plainly says “Oh god, I cannot believe that I became so dark in one day”.

    Anu: In case of that lady, what can I say? Misguided is the word. I have lots of thoughts on what I believe is going on on that side. However, I have decided not to say too much for now. I may start sounding as prejudiced as she does. 😀

    I will update the About section with my email id soon.

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  21. Madhu says:

    I started typing a long comment and then saw that Aparna has gone ahead and said stuff, which complets what could be said on this issue. But even after this to pursue the same issue with same tone; if I am not annoyed to the hilt, I would actually admire her tenacity. I mean, would anyone disagree that parental care is the best? But to lump up everyone who has done ‘THE SIN’ as money mongers! And she doesn’t understand what the junta is protesting about. Anu, I know that the conversation was for Rahini. But, since I couldn’t vent there, I am venting here. Saw no point after you, Neena and Iswarya tried and failed. And when Rahini’s and Aparna’s also failed, I just gave up. Sorry about using your blog for that, Rahini!

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  22. I was also getting all heated up about some of the arguments but I could not type properly in my phone. Before I could lots of people had replied and I was able to save the effort. Now I only feel sorry for her. She is such an emotional being.

    I often feel sorry for people who get so emotional that they are not able to think straight.

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  23. Madhu, no worries. I like people jumping into a discussion – lets me hear such diverse views.

    Rahini, you’re a kinder person than I am, because to be honest, ‘feeling sorry’ was not the emotion I felt when she came back and trolled on and on. Gah! I can’t stand self-righteous people! Or hypocrites! Of course, being neither, you wouldn’t know. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Interesting post. I want to bring a full blooded male perspective to the subject of a woman’s complexion and what are fair ways to describe it.

    I broadly agree with Madhu. I don’t think fair or dark by itself is less or more attractive. From a male perspective, what is much more attractive in a woman is lustrous skin and that may be either fair or dark. Basically a healthy (but not overweight) woman with a pretty face who looks after her skin is attractive. Not much of difference there then from how male looks are perceived. So I am not saying dark >>> fair. I am saying I am ‘agnostic’ to that. And I know I am not alone there. From ‘exchanging notes’ with other guys, be they colleagues or college friends, I know skin tone by itself is not a big factor at all. And what is, well, I should not be so impertinent as to describe that.

    So where does the obsession with fair skin come in? Why do the families of grooms and brides alike pencil fair skin as a requirement? I suspect it’s basically conditioning. We Indians are pretty susceptible to peer and societal pressure and don’t defy our elders easily. So if everybody says you should look for a fair bride/groom, this is what the suitors will do too. And in this way they/we institutionalize discrimination on colour to the point where rude comments are passed on a dark skinned woman. It is not that guys never get comments on their looks but most guys generally don’t care about how their looks are perceived and further Indian society being still patriarchal places them in a position of power.

    None of this is to say I impose against the right of somebody to prefer fair skin to dark if they really, really think so. Far be it for me to do so. But when it comes to COMMENTING on skin tone, I think the appropriate way to both acknowledge the unlimited subjectivity of our perceptions as well as remain courteous to the subject of the comments is to simply say, “You are beautiful”. Not “You are so fair, so you are beautiful” or “You are beautiful even though you are dark” especially not this last descriptive. When it comes to evaluating the success of heroines it is more understandable because there we are only taking cognisance of popular culture. If in popular culture, a fair skinned actress stands a better chance, it is not impolite to say some other actress enjoyed better success in spite of being dark. But the same thing applied to individuals in everyday conversation takes on a whole different meaning.

    P.S: My family did not mention fair skin as a requirement. And while I have no quarrel with those who do if they so wish, I am of the opinion that it is rather regressive and only shutting oneself out of opportunities. After all, fair skin is not going to make the couple more compatible and if destiny has it that your Miss/Mr Right is dark while you are fair, so be it. I did marry a fair skinned woman at the end of the day but it was not I who rejected dark skinned alliances, it was they who spurned me. 😦 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Shalini says:

    Hello again, Rahini!

    This is the post that I was thinking about when I said on BR’s blog that I was hoping you’d comment. I’m glad you can’t be convinced to be less forgiving of our fellow human beings, but I’m afraid I continue to be harshly judgmental on the “color-ism” score. 😦

    i actually popped-in to tell you that your treatment at the hands of that epic creep apex on BR’s blog didn’t go unnoticed. I remained quiet because I felt it would have made matters worse – focused his wrath even more sharply on you. But please don’t think no one cared about what was happening to you. A couple years back, I discovered another movie-related blog called Satyamshot and encountered apex there. Women, including myself, rarely comment on Satyam’s blog and it’s entirely due to apex. Completely ignoring him is how I deal.

    Anyway, you’re a marvelous thinker and I’m delighted to have “met” you.

    Like

  26. Rahini, I came in here from Rangan’s blog (again!) as well, and echoing Shalini, don’t let apex get to you. (Truth be told, he got to me with his all-caps and emoticons and SMS lingo. I have a slow burning fuse about those things, and I didn’t want to enter into another argument with yet another poster. Punee had already had me wanting to commit homicide that day. The other reason is also that I didn’t want to come across as policing anyone’s posts/thoughts. Perhaps I should have. 😦

    Actually, I wrote to BR after he and Aniruddha got into an argument and it devolved into filth asking him to be more proactive in shutting this sort of stuff down. Not as censorship, because I don’t believe in it, but as a way of keeping things civil on an interactive blog like his. Between Apex, punee, nee, eenup, nee dha pa (and sa re ga – for all I know!), I’m beginning to feel like I’ve stepped into an alternate universe.

    Like

  27. I quite agree, anu. I already did think br might be getting a good number of requests to look into his moderator policy. So I kept away from it.

    Truth be told, I have a particular love for irreverent text speak and quite enjoyed the original harmless flirtation and emoticons in the mastani thread.

    When I did realize that we are stepping out of the normal polite zone I stiffened. I knew I could not complain to a bit of flirtation or comradeship among them when I am not above a bit of mild flirtation here and there myself.

    But I am kind of glad that things heated up quickly. It is obvious who the malcontent is. We know what we are dealing with now. And I am also quite glad that the storm blew in my direction. Emotionally, I am much better equipped than most other women in handling this.

    All is well. I thank you and all others who wrote in offering love support and solidarity.

    Love you all. 😀

    Like

  28. MANK says:

    Rahini, amma enna kodumaiyithu, neenga ellavarkom invitation kodukkaren,oorum perumilama Anon uku koode invitation. enekku mattum invitation illaya neenga romba kettavaru , i thought you liked me 😉

    Ok on a serious note , it was your comment today on NABAWI thread in Brangan’s blog that brought me here. As I told you, i was away and was not following the blog for some time.I wasn’t following that thread. i read the piece , but saw some 200 + comments listed against it. so i just didnt bother getting in to it. your comment today intrigued me to go digging to find out what the brouhaha was about

    Well i have been reading your comments now for what – close to 4 years now- and i don’t think you need any help in handling trolls and creeps on the blog. you usually reach out to others when they get in to trouble , so i know that no insinuations or allegations are going to affect you. but in the end we are all human beings – eventhough i have mentioned before , what my impressions of you are :D- so may be you were hurt. by the totally baseless allegations. well i don’t think anybody who has known you would ever doubt your integrity i dont think anybody takes that guy seriously as the fellow himself seems to be confused and contradicting himself -and from reading the above comments of Shalini and others it seems that the guy is a serial offender. so why pay him any attention right?.

    I was about to post this on Brangan’s blog, when i saw the address to your site . i think that thread is better off dead and i don’t want to reopen it by my comments , it would better off putting it here.the good thing though, it finally brings me to your blog- even if uninvited. 🙂
    So chin up and continue with your good work 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  29. MANK: Well if this what it will take to make you visit my obsure little blog then it is well worth it. It still amuses me that it took a mistep from my side to first address me directly after so many years. 😀

    My take on this mess is like this, 5 thumbs down and I wonder what I did to offend, 10 and I am a little diappointed, 25 and I start enjoying it and at 50 I start punching my fist in the air. 😀 You know the Country’s Daddy’s take on this.

    I am eternally amused at the lack of integrity shown by some people. But I am kind enough to know that they may have reasons why they are so broken. Also, I think I know you enough that if there is no reaction from you, then you are unaware of the mess.

    I know that filmbuffs almost never play “Clash of clans” but please bear with me. The following two videos are very telling (and mercifully short) and I fished these out for you.
    The Lava Family wins – A queen is taken down because she has no reinforcements and is on her own. 😦
    The Archer Queen wins – A queen is saved by an army of healers. 🙂

    Never assume that an Archer Queen needs no help.

    You are very welcome here and I hope you like what you read. 🙂

    Like

  30. MANK says:

    Rahini, i long wanted to comment on this post , but i got time only now.- and of course you know what our chief pre occupation for last couple of days has been 😉

    I will stick to the movie related aspects of this post and leave the non – movie related part to you and other learned people around here 🙂

    You say that Ambika is fairer than Radha, but i dont know from which film you can make that out. watch this clip from Kadhal Parisu where ambika and Radha are in the same scene.

    can you make out from the scene that Radha is less fairer than Ambika. Of course today when we look at it, Radha looks very strange in that complexion. that’s all make up. but the truth is that apart from very few filmmakers – as you mentioned Balu mahendra – this was the norm even those days. of course today it is different. they just dont bother to cast an unfair , ah sorry dark complexioned actress.which explains why actresses like priyamani just faded away after a good start.Balu mahendra was a true braveheart in this.i don’t know if you have seen his film rettaivaal kuruvi. he had the guts to cast both dark skinned actresses – Raadhika Sarathkumar and Archana- as Mohan’s wifes. usually if your wife is dark then the other women is going to be fair – like heera in sati leelavati (ironically a BM film 🙂 ), but not here, even though Radhika wear modern outfits, she is still shot in her natural complexion.
    Of the dusky actresses, the one that i used to find most attractive was bhanupriya, i am quite bewitched by her, eventhough by the time i had started watching films, her career was coming to an end. i sort of discovered her through tv and dvd , it helps that she was a superb dancer and actress to boot. she could carry off both glamorous and performance oriented roles.i remember you discussing azhagan on BM’s blog, dont know whether you like the film or not, but i love that film(may be it was the guilty pleasure of seeing Dashing handsome Mammootty being chased by 3 beautiful women of different age, shape and talent 🙂 ) and i loved bhanupriya the best in that film. there is a scene in the film where she is practicing dancing and talking angrily to mammootty at the same time . she just about dances out her emotions in that scene. i just love that scene.

    now one comment you made *”As already pointed out by Madhu, people like Rajinikanth look good ONLY in their own natural skin tone. I believe that is the very point Shankar makes in Sivaji. He gives us a taste of a fair Rajini for a 5 minute time and then points out that it just does not work, so would the Real Rajinikanth please wash out his grease paint and come back to normal?”*

    I think that is you saying that more than Shankar. because if you have watched the film, rajni is always in glamorous in make up ,the lighting is also glamorous. it is impossible to make out he is dark or fair, or rather he is lit fair all throughout.. he just goes full white for that song sequence, that’s all, but even in the scene where shriya asks him to hold out his hand to remark about their color differences , you can see that his hand is darker than shriya’s but it is still fair, of course shriya is super fair.that was what was wrong about Rajni in his later part of his career after the superstar thing. i loved him in his earlier make up free appearance in films like Jhonny . he had an attraction – that Ram Murali characterised as vaseegram- which i think he lost . except for dalapathi where he was much more normal looking.
    so that was one of the chief complaints i had with south indian films, where they cast a dark skinned actor\actress and have them made up heavily to camouflage it and pass of as fair.

    Like

  31. MANK says:

    oh and we are not going to let the archer queen lose this time no matter what . she is not going to lack ammo or reinforcements. we are in this with you and we are going all the way with this.you can count on my sword any time as now we know exactly how and where we all stand in this. 🙂

    P.S. still waiting for your thesis on loosu ponnus 🙂

    Like

  32. Ha ha. Thanks MANK. I gave him the same importance I give rabid dogs. I was more bothered about the others. I was safe and sane. 😉

    And it has been a really enlightening experience knowing where people stood in this. I may not reveal all my thoughts publicly. But it was such a learning experience.

    My reply regarding your thoughts and Madan’s are quite sprawling but I will finish it asap.

    Delighted that it is not an all-woman crew anymore. 🙂

    Like

  33. MANK says:

    Rahini, oouch , that is not a good reflection on rabid dogs 🙂 , but thankfully there is some peace and quiet on that blog for last couple of days. it does feel more like a blog and less of fish market :D. Glad that our critic\moderator got the message.

    An innocent question, why does the comment posting time showing some 5 hrs ahead? . even your comment is showing as on March 8, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Like

  34. Madan: Something which we may have to consider here is if loads of men like dark-skinned women or at least are agnostic to it then there are a few things to be considered.
    1) Are women perpetuating it by assuming that men prefer women fairer, and the Fairness Creams are just playing it up?
    2) Can it be that men do like to see well-groomed dark women but when it comes to marriage, prefer the fair ones as they just want their children fairer?
    3) Is this a stereotype that we are not able to break out of for whatever reason?
    4) Can there be points beyond just “looks”?
    I have been devoting more than a little thought to these points and I have come up with these points.
    1) People who go for arranged marriages may be a shy lot and while a man (usually in mid or late 20s) can say he wants a good-looking bride, he is embarrassed to go into the details as to who are all the women who he considers good-looking and who are not to his taste. So the parents or relatives just give Fair, Tall and Thin as the criteria as they are more measurable than just “very good looking”. So the marriage market just inadvertently gets a higher proportion of these advertisements. Only some men bother to tell their parents in so many words that it is not a high priority for them.
    2) Sometimes of the parents may persuade the groom that they are just allowing the darker people into the gene pool of the family and the children if they are born dark may themselves have their own problems in life. I have heard this point being offered in a real bride hunt.
    3) If the way actresses are chosen is any indication, women who look very exotic are favored when compared to those who look familiar. This probably explains why North Indian and even white actresses have a market in South India.
    4) It is often said that tanned skin is fashionable in cold countries as the people who do manage to get a tan are almost always rich. Similarly, people who are forced to do manual labor in India are more likely to be dark because of the inevitable tan and the ones who do white collar work are more likely to not be too tanned. This means that a sub-conscious feeling associating skin-color and economic status has entered into the culture. Dark people who visit a rich showroom are more likely to be mistaken for a salesman or saleswoman as there is this automatic assumption that they are too-dark to afford the things on the showroom.

    Liked by 1 person

  35. MANK:On Radha being darker than Ambika. It turns out that the first few films alone show her as dark. Her first movie “Alaigaal Oivathilai” shows her as much darker than what she is shown later. Pause at the rose petal scene 3:30 mark.

    Compare with

    Mudhal Mariyathai also seems to show her in a naturally dark tone rather than the greyish coal look that usually accompanies fair actresses made to look darker. Now she is obese and fair. If looking pretty is not her priority then why is she so fair in the current interviews? I just do not know.

    Well, have you not heard songs that celebrate Rajinikanth’s dark tone? I am able to remember a line in Muthu. In men, it is celebrated and it kind of had made more Tamil men identify with him as he has made the most of his skin tone. Rajinikanth is always made dark enough to retain his looks and fair enough for the camera. But not that many actors and actresses in the top rung are truly dark. Comedians like Senthil are. That is their ticket to fame.

    In fact, even actresses like Roja, Radhika etc. are that dark at all.

    https://baradwajrangan.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/settai-7832457-09678-3245/#comment-32120

    In BR’s settai review thread I had asked “Taking the story as such, I could not quite understand why the airhostess girl was suddenly dumped for the reporter girl. It wasn’t in the story. Like the first one for all her dizziness was usual heroine material and the second for all her reporter status was usual second heroine material.” and another commenter had asked “I am sorry, how does Hansika make the first heroine cut and why is Anjali second heroine material? ….I hope and pray her skin color had nothing to do with her automatic elevation to leading lady status in your minds.” Is Anjali dark enough that that would have been my point? Anjali’s looks does nothing to me, but that wasn’t my point at all.

    Like

  36. MANK: Heera was a good choice, no?. Not many actresses can bring out the amorality that Heera brings into Sathileelavathy. You can sense her disregard for rules and mores. I think Heera is a classic non-loosu ponnu. She can’t look anything but intimidatingly classy, no? 😀

    Banupriya. I think she was the last top actress who could pull off classical dance. It is regrettable. And she, I have noticed that she will be completely non-glamous in one movie and smashing in the next without any problem at all. I don’t think she ever scaled the height she should have given her beauty and talent.

    I don’t think we ever really discussed Azhagan. It maybe a sort of wish-fulfillment fantasy of 3 women running behind a middle-aged man. But I felt that all three women are given their dignity and proper character sketch. Not often does that happen in Tamil Cinema. KB is just something else. Even his lesser efforts (Azhagan is a lesser effort) are something remarkable. 🙂 I can’t think of even one director who comes close.
    All these movies you started to watch in early 90s? How many movies do you watch in a week?

    Like

  37. MANK says:

    Rahini Reg:”Dark people who visit a rich showroom are more likely to be mistaken for a salesman or saleswoman as there is this automatic assumption that they are too-dark to afford the things on the showroom.”

    have you heard what happened to Oprah winfrey. after all this Oprah whose net worth is 3 billion USD

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2387630/Racist-shop-girl-said-I-afford-24-000-handbag-says-billionaire-Oprah-Winfrey.html

    http://nypost.com/2013/08/10/swiss-di-shop-tells-oprah-no-way-she-could-afford-38000-handbag/

    Like

  38. MANK says:

    i wonder whether wasnt it KHushbhoo who changed the way tamil film industry hire actresses?. up until her time there was still opportunities for duskier actresses. but after that all the top female stars were Nagma, simran, jyotika ,all of them north indian exports .

    Like

  39. Oh yeah. I read about it here.
    http://seemagoswami.blogspot.in/2013/08/are-you-being-served.html

    I actually thought of linking it here. Recently I mistook a guy who was just resting on an auto to be the autokaran. He was not dark. Or atleast I don’t remember him to be so. He was casually dressed and sitting on the driver seat and was smoking. A bunch of guys laughed at him as I approached. Later I was narrating this to a friend and he said it routinely happened to him and I realized that his very dark skin must be the reason.

    It is easy to accuse others of racism. Do we not wrongful estimate the educational qualifications or financial status of people based on their looks? If we look at ourselves we will surely see such instances.

    I basically don’t go by automatic instinct. I usually look for more signs like accent, vocabulary etc. And I make it a point to not predict age of people too. Sometimes that can wildly backfire too. 🙂

    Like

  40. MANK says:

    oh i started in early 90’s , it was the odd movie in theaters with family or one on national channel TV. but my movie watching took off in late 90s and early 00s when i got in to college.it was also time of booming tv channels and DVD market. so i guess i became a movie addict soon enough.:)

    there is no such particular limit as the number of movies i watch.there has been days when i have watched 5 or 6 movies per day (pls dont judge me 🙂 ), but now that i have a steady job and its pretty hectic, i dont get that much time, so usually about 5 or 6 films for the week or on the weekend. 😀

    Like

  41. My own movie watching dwindled around that time. It was because I went to live in a college hostel and movie watching wasn’t an option there. I don’t regret it. It appears that movie watching has lost its charm for me. One in a month suffices now.

    Recently a guy in his early twenties took it into his mind that playing candy crush for hours in the office bus is hardly the way I should spend my time. He has been subjecting me to a steady diet of movies like rajini murugan, mirudhan etc. He is the theater owner cum distributor cum companion for my current movie watching experience. If things go according to his plan, I’d have watched about 50 movies by the end of year. Let us see. 🙂

    And regarding judging you, well if you don’t judge a woman for crossing level 1320 in candy crush recently and going strong in clash of Clans then I will return the favor. 😀

    Like

  42. Rahini: Finally read your response. I had missed it because March happened to be busy for the right and wrong reasons.

    Anyway, yes to points 1 and 3 especially. We should not ideally look at it in terms of a marketplace but that is eventually how it pans out and women compete with other women in the marketplace for the best grooms. The implication is that the best grooms would like somebody who is more fair skinned. And yes, that only fair = attractive is a stereotype as far as India goes. It may have some basis in reality (even if that doesn’t make it right) in North India, esp Punjab/Haryana, where people are generally more fair skinned but why in the South would people ‘exclude’ a large population for their skin? It makes no sense except that it has become institutionalised over a period of time.

    As for point 2, that kind of thinking is alien to me, but then I have received a liberal education in life from my parents plus my grandfather was somewhat dark skinned so the possible skin colour of progeny is not something I give much importance to. Which brings us to point 4, what makes for the best grooms/brides anyway? And isn’t marriage more about two compatible souls rather than mr/miss perfect coming together? I think people need to get their priorities right in arranged marriage. This is not an auction for the most desirable body or brain. Don’t just go by how the boy/girl looks, his/her qualifications etc. Try to think about how comfortable would you be spending the rest of your life with him/her, that’s far more important. If only we could all put this front and center of our considerations, much of the anti-dark discrimination could be addressed.

    Re your other four points, I do agree that point 4 could be a possibility. Wasn’t this sort of covered in that blog post you had linked in the discussion on BR’s thread? If it wasn’t, then certainly it is at the heart of the problem. The old and still extant caste based hierarchy of occupations has a lot to do with it, wherein people in certain professions are believed to look a certain way (because the Brahmins generally were/are fair while backward castes were/are dark). This kind of occupation profiling (as in where a dark person is thought to be somebody like an autokaaran) is almost unavoidable and most if not all of us end up indulging in it. Which need not be anything malignant as long as it doesn’t lead to the sort of discrimination based on colour that we see. The media was outraged when some right wing rabble rouser asked if Cong would have accepted Sonia Gandhi as their leader if she was dark. The tone was offensive but he, willfully or otherwise, called out the elephant in the room. Exactly how many dark skinned heads of state has India had over the years, other than proxy/sleeping PMs like Gowda? We cannot accept a dark skinned person, even a man, as the PM, so we have a long way to go.

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  43. Thank you Madan, the criteria for matchmaking and the way the looks, financial status etc. of people are gauged in arranged marriage settings can be really unsettling. Choice marriages can certainly be similar. After all the decisions are made by humans. The way people compare salary, height etc. are just as wrong as the complexion criteria. Is it just that complexion is the numero uno criterion and so unsettles a lot of people? Men from unconventional professions are at a specific disadvantage too. Maybe we are not so concerned because we are born with our skin and choose our profession? Choice marriages may sound like a wonderful choice. But the more talk of “Mokka Figures” I hear from the guys around me, the more I doubt that point too.

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