If South Asians were to be put on a color spectrum, we’d be defining the fifty shades of brown. No no this isn’t the South Asian version of E. L. James’s novel, but rather the truth of the epidermal diversity of the South Asian community.
Several months ago, Fatima Lodhi created a campaign which highlights the unrealistic expectations of skin color obsessed South Asians around the globe. Through the campaign titled Dark is Divine, she along with millions of other fought the need to be “ideally white”. Unfortunately, the notion of colorism continues to exist in the vast majority of the South Asian community.
The everyday exposure given to importance of “fairness” has brainwashed the community into thinking dark is dirty. While major casting in television and Bollywood places fair at the forefront, darker skinned celebrities often go unnoticed. Celebrities are paid large sums to endorse fairness creams and bleaching products which are supposed to make you look “whiter” almost instantaneously. With big names such as Shah Rukh Khan, Shahid Kapoor, Yami Gautam, John Abraham, Genelia D’Souza and Priyanka Chopra endorsing such products, what kind of message are we sending to the masses? Furthermore, the actors who are endorsing such products are not as light as we would think them to be. In most instances, make-up, camera techniques, lighting and a good old friend called Photoshop help enhance the images which the masses then perceive to be real.
While Bollywood is busy endorsing odd sorts of products, television is doing its own bit in keeping colorism alive. Let’s set aside shows like Saat Phere who tried tackling the issue of light versus dark where the main lead of the show, Saloni and later her daughter Savri, face issues of colorism and attempt to over come it. However, the names of the characters themselves send out a mixed signal. Or what about Sapna Baabul Ka Bidaai where one bahu is given a preference over the other due to skin color. Dark should not be different to begin with, dark should be as normal and beautiful as white! Rather than highlighting the differences in skin color, why not embrace the difference?
As the industry which produces the highest number of films in the world, does Bollywood not have the responsibility to cater to a more diverse scale of talent? As a South Asian society are we discriminating our own people? Are we as a society not accepting everyone who does not fit a certain color scale on the spectrum? Even the United States, which has seen immigrant influx and racial segregation in the past does not tend to discriminate between skin colors when it comes to media, but rather promotes diversity through their films and television shows. If they are willing to accept “outsiders” and immigrants, why is it so hard for us to accept our own!
What are your thoughts on colorism? Have you been a victim to colorism? Share your thoughts and experiences with us on Urban Asian!