When I was growing up, I was made to feel very conscious about my complexion. Well-meaning friends and relatives would give me all sorts of advice on how to minimize my dark skin. ‘Don’t wear bright lipstick or nail polish.’ ‘Avoid white or lighter colours.’ ‘It’s best if you stick to browns and darker colours.’ These were the pieces of ‘advice’ I was given.
Of course, when so many people tell you something and they do so repeatedly, over a period of time, you start to believe them. Inevitably, I too started internalizing all this advice. For years I avoided wearing white and was very careful about not doing or applying anything that would highlight my darker complexion.
Rebellion set in as I grew up and saw Nandita Das’ Unfair and Lovely campaign. I started wondering why I had to downplay the colour of my skin; what was so wrong with it? After some time, I even started doing the opposite of what people would advise or suggest. If someone said I shouldn’t wear white since it makes my complexion look darker, I would immediately go and don white garments.
I didn’t limit this to myself alone; instead, I started encouraging others to rebel too. If someone were told that their legs were too thin and they shouldn’t wear shorts, I would encourage them to go ahead and wear what they like.
Today, when it comes to makeup and skincare products, I have to admit that I am a bit of an ignoramus and not very brand conscious. I really only get done up when I have to go to occasions such as parties or functions. Otherwise, it’s cold cream in winters and cream or powder in summers.
However, there is one thing I always have to be careful about when buying my creams. These days most day creams or night creams are ones that promise to whiten your skin. The problem is that these creams aren’t meant for people with dark complexion and show up rather badly on the face. I am very careful to buy non-whitening creams that don’t make me look as though I’ve applied something or that make my skin look rough.
The sad part is that practically every brand you look at only offers whitening creams when it comes to the affordable range. When I look for creams and serums that don’t have this whitening factor, I realize that such creams are much more expensive. Everyone seems to have bought into this whole fairness and skin lightening idea of beauty.