Because I have a dark complexion, I’ve had to hear comments such as, “Your father and mother are so fair; why are you so dark”, right from childhood. It prompted me to start using fairness creams while I was still in school. Things didn’t get much better in college; some friends often cracked jokes at my expense, jokes that were aimed at my skin colour.At one time, I made friends with a girl on social media. We got to know each other quite well and we called each other brother and sister. One day, a close friend of mine saw her photograph and immediately told me, “Yeah, someone like her will only make you a brother.” He basically implied that since I was dark complexioned, someone as pretty as her would not be interested in more than a friendship with me.
Coming from such a good friend, this remark really hurt. I didn’t try to hide how I felt and he realized immediately that he had upset me. He changed the subject. At no point of time did he apologize.
What always helped me was the advice of my mother and some very good friends. Right through school and college, they all told me that my complexion was really of no importance. My mother would tell me to do my best in whatever I did; skin colour is incidental. My friends would remind me that it’s what’s on the inside that counts. If I am a good person, my complexion won’t matter.
None of this made an impression straight away. There wasn’t one moment in which I came to the realization that this obsession with fairness is pointless. It was a gradual change over months and years. As I went through college, my horizons broadened. I was also good in studies and my teachers constantly heaped praise on me. It gave me confidence and now all I worry about is that my skin is healthy. My complexion doesn’t bother me.
I find the attitude towards fairness and the ads for fairness creams absurd. Think about it; a girl becomes fair and she suddenly gets a job. Who, in real life, does that? We find fair skin beautiful, even if it is dry or a pimple or acne prone. Society has been obsessed with fairness for a long time and the cosmetic companies mostly just feed that obsession to make money.
- Ashiqur Rahman