A few days ago I was surprised to see an advertisement for under arm fairness cream on television. Now I know that the third world has a skin complex but I never thought we had fallen in our own minds to this extent.
I suppose it started with the English who may have colonized and ruled many parts of the world but have rarely entered the intellect of the locals in a way they did with us. The east India Company used to deal with the common man of Hindustan through their chosen local mouth pieces and they were showered with rewards and a lifestyle far above their peers. Those local mouthpieces/puppets were also bestowed with powers to deal with the population as they pleased backed by English swords. This is where I think the whole “wanna be English” thing started. The easiest way to distinguish the two races was, of course colour of skin. Sounds familiar to the current scene in our corridors of power doesn’t it?
The English left us divided in two countries and later we made it three but the fascination of being like them has prevailed to this day. This is perhaps why we see numerous advertisements toting magical skin whitening effects in 6-8 days and every kind of body part being promised fairness and thus beauty as we see it. Further proof of this insanity is found and reinforced by our pop culture which sings songs like “gori rang ka zamana” and our sports super stars like Umar gul, who are shown applying fairness creams and then taking lots of wickets in the field the next moment. Fair = success is the mantra and I’m afraid to break it to you dear readers, but all this is nonsense.
I am not going to launch into a spiel on inner beauty here as all of us know how much that counts in today’s cut throat environment. However I would like to beg the question “Has anyone noticed what the other half of the world feels?” While we are dying to get white, they are tanning in the sun till they get skin cancer, applying henna and all sorts of assortments to get any kind of brown in their skin tone and marveling at how radiant our olive and brown complexion looks.
The rest of the world considers our skin colour beautiful and if you are not satisfied with the above examples then perhaps you need to look at the results of the last few miss universes and miss world pageants (shallow as they are) to see what beauty is to them these days, newsflash its brown!
So the concept of universal beauty is therefore a sham. Its all grass is greener on the other side, all over this mud ball and companies promising fairness or tanning are making a fool out of all of us and minting gazillions. These same companies then back musical and sports superstars to reinforce their message – get the picture? It’s a vicious cycle and every time you believe that your skin tinge or colour is going to hold you back all you are actually doing is falling prey to your own insecurities which these companies live off.
Gibran once said “People of Orphalese beauty is life when life unveils her holy face. But you are life and you are the veil. Beauty is eternity gazing itself in the mirror. But you are eternity and you are the mirror.”
Bottom line: God created us in his own image, each one of us is equal and beautiful put down the mirror, it’s of no use.
Originally published on the Dawn Blog on July 4th 2011