As a child, I was obsessed with fairness, just like everyone else around me. Call it conditioning or just general social influence, because everybody would talk about it, but I wanted to be fair too. I didn’t look like my parents, who are both fair – I was comparatively darker. You know how kids can be – they can get pretty mean. And it isn’t just the children; it’s the grown-ups too. There would be plenty of unfavorable comparisons and well-meaning family friends and relatives would point out that I didn’t look as fair as my mother.
At first, I let these attitudes get to me. I would try all sorts of stuff to look fairer. Funnily enough, I never actually went to the fairness creams, though. Instead, I would try different homemade face packs. Of course, it didn’t help that I wasn’t consistent with their use because I would get bored fairly fast. (laughs)
Later on, my attitude towards my complexion changed. However, I did notice it a lot amongst my friends, especially as we entered our teens and became conscious of the opposite sex. Whenever there were such interactions, for some reason, that ‘gora’ word used to stick.
At one point in time, my self-confidence was also bruised by the fact that I was overweight for much of my childhood. When I turned 16 or 17, I started losing all that weight and this changed my outlook. At this point, I realized that skin color didn’t really matter. In college, I even did a little bit of modeling and my complexion wasn’t a hindrance at all. I realized that I liked myself as I was. I didn’t really give a damn what others thought. This was me, this was who I was; they could take it or leave it.
Of course, there were practical considerations too. I was living in a hostel on a tight budget and didn’t really have the money to buy some stupid cream that would do what – give one some mental satisfaction, probably? I did earn some money from the modeling but I had better things to blow it up on (laughs).
With time my concerns shifted towards more meaningful things. These days, I’m extremely careful about my skincare regime. The one thing I always make sure of is that I pick up products that have no whitening in them. If you go to any retail stores, you’ll find that most of the topical applications are fairness-based or have whitening. I research products online before I buy any of them and am very careful to type ‘creams without fairness’ in Google. My skin is fairly sensitive so I have to be careful anyway. But I’m very clear about the fact that I don’t want a ‘fairness’ product anywhere near me. I’ve moved beyond shade cards.