The New Age Moors

2:40 pm

I recall an incident that occurred when I must’ve been in the 9th grade. I was standing with two other girls, bless them, in the school corridor. I won't call them my “friends” as they are anything but that. Anyways, I was chatting with my acquaintances. One of them was eyeing, rather obviously, a guy standing in the corner, fancying himself to be looking like a Greek-god. The apparent Greek-god was murmuring something to a friend of his, who looked in our direction and demanded in shamelessly booming voice “Who? Who? Which one?” where his friend had to reply (very cleverly indicating the highly estimable Lady) replied, “Arrey yaar, jo sabse gori hain!”. Which is a fact. No arguments as she is the fairest among the three of us. But that statement resulted her to be in the finest of spirits for the next three weeks. She thought it was a compliment and the guy liked her. I wish I could say that they went out on a date the next day, but they never ever ended up dating.

My question: Are we still living in a time where we (women and men) have to persistently ask our mirrors “Who’s the fairest of them all?” and do we still have the colonised mindset of black & white?

I have a friend from school, Pri, who is obsessed with her complexion. Her skin is on the darker side, yes, but if you ask me, she is waaaaaaaayy prettier than the fair one I mentioned in the initial bit of my post. Pri, however, will go to any extent to make her skin lighter, if only by a few noches. Last year, I had gone back to my school for some function and my friends and I were looking for Pri when we saw a girl who looked liked like her entering the school. We were a little far away to see who it really was.
“Is that Pri?” Jiggy asked, squinting her eyes in the sun.
“Nah. Can’t be,” Reya said with a srt of insane surety that made us all stare at her.
“She wouldn’t have been walking so cooly, na” Reya explained. “She would have her hand over her head and running towards shade crying ‘Sun! My skin!’, right?”.
By the way, Reya was right. That girl was not our colour-conscious Pri.

All this makes me think, is it really that big a sin to be born dark in the Indian subcontinent even after more than 60 years of so-called independence? Why are people pro-fair skin in a piece of land where all the natives were once called the “White Man’s Burden”? Does a face look better when its fair than when the same face is dark? Are we really independent or have our minds simply refused to be decolonized with the European thought of colourama?

It is the year 2008 and people on the look out for prospective brides priorities these two things on an average:
1. How fair the girl is
2. Her academic performance.
Fairness creams still advertise that fair=beautiful and bleach cream ads show an invisible girl applying bleach which results in atleast a thousand men flocking towards her.

We are living in the 21st century with the mindset of 19th century Victorians where girls’ complexion should be the fairest of fair and should be protected by bonnets and all. Where poor Bertha Mason (and who cares if she is a “beauty”, a fact even Rochester agrees with?) is locked up in a window-less attic whereas a plain-Jane, but a White-plain-Jane gets the man of her dreams (but Jane Eyre was a nice person & sympathized with Bertha, so no major complaints there really).

In today’s apparent world of progress where a woman also has the right to be intellectual (if not intelligent), why must women (or even men?) measure their skin tones?

Do we need a Black feminism? Womanism? Or just decolonise our occidental outlook to respect our “oriental” selves?

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