OBSESSION WITH FAIR SKIN - GUEST POST


We see advertisements of innumerable fairness products on television every day which are highly regressive and belittling. The newspapers are filled with ads in which creams, soaps, face washes and doctors promise a fairer skin. The advertising companies do not put in a lot of thought into making their ads because the formula is simple; if you have fair and flawless skin anyone will fall in love with you immediately. Not only this but girls who do not have a fair skin have no reason to be confident. Being fair means you are beautiful and if you are beautiful the world is yours, you would have a successful life and job.

I have seen many ruthless advertisements in which girls go unnoticed and are rejected when they are dark but the second their skin color changes, they find their prince charming falling in love with them at first sight. I find it mortifying the way in which we have readily accepted something which is wrong on so many levels. These advertisements clearly show that there is nothing wrong with segregating individuals on the basis of color and that the worth of a person is determined by his or her skin color.

How many of you remember Vital Signs’ song "Goray Rung Ka Zamana"? I remember there was an outrage when this song came out because it had lyrics that clearly said that girls with a fair skin were always in fashion and they had more of a right to be bold and confident. Vital Signs had to "compensate" by singing the song "Sanwali Saloni Si Mehbooba". My point is that there was a time when we used to question these things but now when we see our media ridiculing people who are not fair, we do not even raise our voice. It marginalizes other forms of appearance of women who are not fair for instance are made to feel inferior it begins to govern the way people look at themselves someone who's dark in this society might find it difficult to have a positive body-image which increases the complex in people at very young age.

People and specially women tons of money every year on fairness creams and bleaching treatments to look fair and feel better about themselves which is pointless, they should embrase there natural beauty and color.On the other hand, our media makes the most of it by reinforcing the thinking that fair alone is beautiful and being dark is unacceptable. What are the content creators thinking when they come up with tag lines like "ab gora hoga Pakistan"? Do they know that they are talking about the color of people’s skin? Not only advertising companies but our dear Morning show hosts have taken the responsibility to keep on reminding girls every now & then about how deprived they are if they don't have fair complexion. Not only they speak so highly about it, proper panel of dermatologists & doctors are called to let the girls know how can they get the desired complexion that will make them beautiful supposedly.

Irony is that those who are gifted with fair complexion I.e. foreigners; spend considerable amount of bucks on tanning sprays & products. But, sadly aunties in Pakistan only have one criteria for their bahus & that is to have lambi GORI bahu.it is not just an issue of self-confidence and self-esteem alone. I have personally come across many girls who have experienced adverse side-effects from the continual use of these fairness and bleach creams in order to find the ‘perfect rishta’. Ironically, Islam has no room for discrimination based on race or color; Hazrat Bilal (RA), a slave of African descent, was the one who gave the first call to prayer in Medina. And in a country ostensibly created on the basis of religion, ours should have been a society that embraces all and was not so stuck on regressive ideals of beauty such as skin color.

Hopefully, things will change and get better. It is campaigns like ‘Dark is Beautiful’ which started in India, which establish steps in the right direction. I believe we should have a similar campaign in Pakistan to stand up against such notions that generate discrimination based on skin colour. It is obvious that we need to take some action and help young girls understand that looks don’t always matter.

This post was submitted by Farwa Kanwal. 

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