Fair and Lovely?

Reading Indian Homemaker’s post, reminded me of how much our Indian society is still hung up on ‘fairness’!

The very term ‘ Fair and Lovely’ indicates that fairness and loveliness goes hand in hand! I remember, reading matrimonial ads for fun, with friends(long, long time ago) and coming across loads of adverts which stated very clearly ‘fair bride wanted’. And I do not recall any advertisement for a ‘fair groom’. Obviously, fair grooms are not necessary, just the ‘Y’ chromosome is enough, when it comes to the groom!

Going back to the main topic – why this fascination with ‘fairness’???? Is it as harmless as the fascination for ‘tanned’ skin abroad, as some people like to claim? I wish it were, but I would have to disagree.. Agreed, that a lot of people in the UK and the US( and I am sure in a lot of other countries), go for sunbeds and other tanning treatment to look good. So what is the difference with our people trying to be – ‘fair and lovely’? The main difference I would think is that in there is no discrimination within a society against people who are not tanned(in UK, US etc). Tanning is simply a beauty treatment, however, in India, a whole lot more depends of one’s skin colour! Brides are rejected based on ‘fairness’ of the skin! Some time back I remember seeing a ‘We, the people’ on NDTV, where a gentleman, very honestly said that, given a choice between 2 equally qualified people, he would select the fairer candidate, as that would be more beneficial to his business.. Unfortunately, this mindset remains! Somebody else, qualified the difference, saying that one would not mind having a dark girlfriend, but when it came to the woman, to take home to mummy – it would have to be a fair girl!

However, don’t you think, that if a woman tried to reject a prospective groom, on the basis that he is ‘not fair’, would be told not to be ‘frivolous’?

Even, in this age, people advise expectant mothers to eat certain foods to ensure that the unborn child is ‘fair’! And this is not just among the uneducated, unaware society either!

The silver lining? Well , from the look of it, today we have a market for ‘Fair and Handsome’ as well.. Well, at least we can no longer complain of inequality, I guess!

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18 thoughts on “Fair and Lovely?

  1. This is a very lame topic. There are many very serious topics in the world, from climate change, to genocide, to poverty, to aids etc. Ladies please come out of your self pity. Males have failed to provide good leadership to the world, so you take over, we will support you. But then you need to change your focus, from mundane stuff to more serious.
    ~Amit Poddar

  2. Welcome to my blog, Amit. Sure, there are several more important issues. But in my opinion, this is just one more way in which the society tries to undermine women. It might be mundane to you – but to several women, who have been the target of such discrimination it might not be so mundane!

  3. I think we are just stereotyping Indians….it makes for an interesting conversation….I dont think this is reality today though….yes everyone wants to look good…everyone wants a good looking partner to some extent….but this is taking things to the extreme

  4. Smitha, yes, the insistence on choosing a ‘fair’ bride is depressing in these modern times. In other situations women are judged according to their abilities but not when it comes to the marriage market!

    Re: ‘fair and handsome’- it is amusing to see the shift from ‘tall, dark and handsome’ to ‘fair and handsome’! πŸ™‚

  5. I think we have been ruled by the Mughals who were light skinned (compared to us) and then the British who were still lighter, so it is kind of very seriously embedded into our heads.

    Ancient Indian texts don’t say much about beauty and fairness? Actually they do. All Asuras were dark, most Gods were fair.

    @Amit Poddar -it is not a small issue, I have seen little girls and boys wishing they were lighter skinned, and Krishna’s song, “radha kyon kali, main kyon kala’ shows that being dark can make a lot of people very unhappy. Quite unnecessarily.

    Not just girls, boys also are discriminated against if they are not fair.

  6. @L Venkata Subramanium,
    Welcome to my blog..
    ‘yes everyone wants to look good…everyone wants a good looking partner to some extent….but this is taking things to the extreme’ – why should being ‘fair’ be equated to ‘good looking’ – that is the stereotype…
    @Manju, Welcome to my blog.. Yes it is indeed sad that being fair is one of the ‘attributes’ in the marriage market even now..

    @IHM, you make a very relevant point about asuras being dark and gods being fair.. Actually – there is also a very interesting theory which claims that when Aryans came to India – they essentially started the caste system in such a way that the so-called superior castes were fair (the pure blood Aryans) and as the colour gets darker – so does the status.. So the native Dravidians – apparently got pushed down the casts ladder. Not sure how true this is – but just wanted to mention it. Infact they also say that Krishna was dark – as a measure to try and assimilate the Dravidians in Aryan culture…

  7. This Aryan-Dravidian divide is nothing more than a creation of the British as is the ‘Martial race’. Both were invented by them for reasons that we all know.

    Ram, Krishna, Shiv, Narayan Himself, the main Gods of the Hindus are all dark. Yes, the Goddesses are mostly fair-skinned, Kala being the main exception. There is no evidence of any preference for fair colour in any scripture/ classification of castes based on colour… may be it is a simple case of many people beginning to prefer the fairer one for a host of reasons over time.

    Even among the whites, aren’t the blonds most in demand?!

  8. @Vinod, As I said – I was not really sure of how true that Aryan-dravidian thing is – yes – you are right – it is most probably something created by the British..
    Well – blondes might be in demand – but I don’t think there is the kind of discrimination that is evident in India..Infact blondes have another stereotype to fight – that they are ‘dumb’ – but thats another topic I guess πŸ™‚

  9. LOL, guys like them dumb!

    On a more serious note, yes, that discrimination in India is bad. There is an attitudinal change required. Other than that, it probably is a simple case of supply and demand…

  10. [url=http://www.zabrigraphics.com/graphics/act,photos/cid,108/][img]http://gallery.zabrigraphics.com/13/1189791329_hi75.gif[/img][/url]

  11. yes… fairness is being expected in our society in a big way which is not a healthy sign.. First our government must ban all those ads which shows like only a bride who is fair gets married..

  12. @kanaguonline, yes you are right.. Such ads really send out the wrong message.. And its not just for marriages is it – it is now also indicating that fairness is a pre-requisite for success.. It is a sad state of affairs…

  13. Smitha, you have touched upon so many topics that are very relevant and you write in a balanced manner. I dint want to bother you with all my comments.

    This penchant for fairness has bothered me for a long time. I have never felt anyone to be better looking if they are only fair but I have heard many dismiss a person only because he/she is dark! This is dangerous since a person is much more than the skin and has to develop no matter what the color of the skin is. Can you believe that this is mentioned even in our school text books for the younger classes? If nothing else dampens their confidence this will.

  14. @Happy Kitten, I would be more than happy to hear from you! I think thats what I like most about blogging – the comments :)I had no idea that school textbooks mention this! Talk about poisoning young minds! I am so mad to hear it! Guess, its on us – the parents to ensure that the right message goes to our kids..

  15. Smits, I’m really amazed to read your thoughts which are so similar to mine πŸ™‚

    πŸ™‚ It is funny na πŸ™‚ Great minds think alike πŸ˜‰

    If we,as parents discard this line of thought that fair is beautiful, guess it will be much easier for us to make sure our children never get introduced to such a viewpoint at all.I agree with what you’ve said to Happy Kitten. As parents, yes, its in us to ensure that our children get the right values and messages.


    I agree! That’s all we can do. We cannot shut out everything that the world does – though I do wish I could – but if I can bring up Poohi with the right values and a sense of confidence, hopefully these messages that society sends would be water off a duck’s back – hopefully.

  16. Came here via your link in Deeps post on the same topic. Very relevant. I can’t believe the first two commentators have brushed it aside as of no consequence.

    • I think loads of people believe that there is nothing wrong wirh this fairness fetish. Sine of the people I know here have managed to hand over the legacy of ‘wanting to be fair’ to their daughters, as young as 4 yrs old. Funnily, boys being dark is not as much if an issue. They don’t have to be ‘married off’, I guess!

  17. Pingback: The fairness freak-show | Shail's Nest

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