Goddess Kali’s dark, powerful foot crushing a fairness cream. Crushing, at the same time, a beauty standard that places fair skin as superior. Creative from ad agency UltiMad Media The text says “Boyei gechhe” in Bangla - roughly translating to “I couldn’t care less”

A few days back an Indian friend messaged me this: Is there any good skin cream that you can recommend for my daughter? I was shocked that she is asking me for this advice. Neither am I a dermatologist nor a beautician who is generally approached for such advice. On probing further, she said, her teenage daughter is having an inferiority complex because she is dark-skinned. As she is almost my colour, my friend wanted to know if there are skin care techniques which I use to make me look fairer!

Well, I almost controlled my anger and irritation for this question but then realized the plight of this poor mother who unfortunately is conditioned by the dark skin bias that society has long afflicted!

I, myself have been conditioned that way during my teens and I have frantically tried all possible “treatments” to become fair. I have faced several kinds of biases and discrimination even during my childhood, school and college days that prevented me from opportunities! But more than the external factors, what affects more is diminished self-esteem leading to low confidence and personality struggles.

But thankfully, I have come out of these self-esteem issues in the past few years and now feel very comfortable with my skin. Especially after coming to the US, I realize how precious my skin is and how much classy it is! And what I said is something every dark-skinned person, especially those belonging to India and certain countries faces even today! In the US the #Blacklivesmatter campaign made some realize the folly the society is in!  It’s high time, we start a similar campaign in India as well.  Unfortunately, India is such a country of Racism, Casteism and colorism!

Dark skin is even now equated to poverty and lower caste.

The country where “Fair and lovely” creams sell for millions!

The country where dark-skinned women have to pay twice the dowry!

The country where there are literally NO Top-rated heroines with dark skin (the dark-skinned characters are played by painting fair skinned girls) (dark-skinned heroines like Nandita das end up in independent films / certain typecasted roles)

The country where every pregnant mother prays that the baby shouldn’t be dark-skinned and takes “saffron milk” for getting a fair-skinned baby!

The country where dark-skinned women don’t get to become TV anchors or Models. Even if they do, the percentage would be less than 5%

The country where dark-skinned men and women are either comic characters or villains in movies.

(The exceptions are heroes from the Tamil industry. But then again, the same industry wants the fairest girls from North India to be their pairs !)

The country where all Goddesses are fair-skinned (except for Kali / Durga who is the furious version)

The country where dark-skinned men and women always live with low self-esteem for no reason of theirs!

All these, despite the fact that Indians are originally dark-skinned Dravidians whose skin tone changed when Aryans and other countries invaded the country, leading to the mixed race.

I am so hopeful for the new generation of kids/gen Zs who have a better sense and awareness of these kinds of stupidity in the name of modelling/photoshoots

May the next generation be devoid of such biases and discrimination and let my country awake into such an oasis of love and inclusion.

Coming back to my friend who sought advice for her daughter, I said this, “Well, tell her that I use Self-love as a moisturizing lotion, Competencies as a Makeup foundation and Attitude as a blush!”

Love and Abundance for all,

Dr CeeVee

(Dr. CeeVee is the pen name of Dr Chandra Vadhana R, Founder of Prayaana Labs)

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