Although I have darker skin, I’m fortunate enough to have parents who never made me feel conscious about it or used it as a basis for comparison among my siblings and me. In my family, beauty was never defined by complexion. As a result, what other people said about my colour did not make that much of a difference to me.
There have been instances though, when other people have brought up my skin colour. I guess it’s because it is so deeply embedded in society’s mentality that fair is beautiful. Recently, a relative was speaking to my sister. During the conversation, this person said that because my husband has a fairer complexion than mine, he looks smarter. My sister was taken aback at first, but then immediately leapt to my defence and pointed out that regardless of skin colour, my features ensured that I did, in fact, look smart.
I also happen to have marks on my neck that are quite noticeable. People who are curious often don’t think twice about asking me what’s wrong with my neck. Somebody went so far as to say that I don’t wash my neck properly. Others have even told me to apply lemon to lighten the marks. What annoys me is that they don’t restrain themselves from asking personal questions about my appearance. After all, unless I entrust them with any information, it’s none of their business. I know that many of us don’t think that there is anything wrong with just asking someone about something personal but I really wish that we could be a little more careful.
The problem is that we are taught from childhood that these kinds of comments are absolutely normal and ok. A few years ago I had an acquaintance who had a dark complexion. This person’s mother had absolutely no qualms in mentioning this in front of everyone. It was quite shocking for me that my family, which comes from a small town, didn’t place any emphasis on skin colour but someone who was well-educated and lived in the US did.
Although this attitude springs from society, I think the media has a fairly huge role to play – one that extends beyond the fairness products that they try to push on us. As a dark-complexioned person, I need more representation. Even brands that don’t necessarily promote fairness products can sideline us because the models they have are fair. This kind of representation can eventually make anyone feel as though they are deficient simply because they are dark. What we need is brands that use models of all skin shades to represent the diversity of skin colours present in our country.