It was just one incident. I was in Class IV or V and we were rehearsing for a dance recital. I was in the front row of dancers. One day, I overheard my teacher talking to the assistant. She told him that I needed to be moved to the back because I was too dark and the front line needed to look ‘pretty’.
I didn’t kick up a fuss or anything. In fact, for the longest time, I was in denial. I ignored what she said and pretended that it didn’t happen. I didn’t even tell anyone about it. I thought I was quite cool about it but slowly it started to affect me.
I used to be a very talkative child and was quite an extrovert. After this incident, all of that changed. I became shy, quiet and reserved - traits that have followed me into the present. I stuck to a core group of family and friends and didn’t go out of my way to meet new people. I was just so self-conscious that I didn’t want to give anyone the opportunity to say anything like that about me ever again.
Over time, my attitude towards my skin colour has changed. I read a lot of different material and when I came to college, I realised that there is a lot more to a person than just the colour of their skin. Today, I’m absolutely fine with my complexion.
I find, though, that this problem is rather deeply embedded in society. Even people who normally don’t profess to any colour bias tend to worry about these things when it comes to functions such as weddings. To see the bride go through detanning and different packs and what not, starting months before the wedding so that she’ll look fair on the big day illustrates my point.
I really believe that we need to check the kind of advertising that happens for fairness creams. Some of those ads are ridiculous. Under the guise of feminism, they try to tell you that you need their product to be more confident or become successful. They merely reinforce all the biases that Indian society has towards dark skin. I think that if more celebrities came forward and talked about it being ok to be dark-skinned, we might find attitudes changing right down to the grassroots. After all, it is these very same celebrities who millions believe when the celebrities endorse a fairness product.
- Trishna Das