Few days back, I saw this huge billboard with Sonam Kapoor endorsing L’Oreal Paris “White Perfect”. The two words on the billboard actually captured the essence of what Indian girls, and more probably the parents of Indian daughters, have been racing after.
Over the years, Indians’ obsession with white skin (even though they believe that whites are the ones who are racists) and carefully managed marketing propaganda has resulted in a huge range of whitening products flooding into the Indian market. Largely, it is a forceful seeding of a belief when you see a young dark girl, totally low in confidence, failing all over the place from work to marriage, being mocked by everyone – uses a whitening cream and suddenly erupts with confidence, bags success one after the other and becomes dream girl of every single guy she meets. This, even when any intelligent girl would understand that the so-called “gora nikhaar” has nothing to do with what you do with your life.
However, if not girl, then her parents would fall for this propaganda. Making their daughter look white and spotless is one of the greatest headaches of Indian parents. Girls would be allowed to spend as much on these whitening products and beauty parlors, even at the cost of studies as education won’t help them get married – whitening creams would. And when the peer pressure starts acting, the problem is even more acute. Top it up with adverts showing that a girl practically can’t get married unless she is fair. A recent fairness cream ad showed a girl almost agreeing to parents to get married to a well-educated well settled guy till her “white” friend gives her the whitening cream after which she puts up a condition to her parents that she would marry that guy after three years once she also has as good job and earning as equal salary as the groom (of course, assuming that the guy’s professional career would be stagnant for those three years). She didn’t have that confidence of getting a good job and a fat package till she became fair.
And why just women? As the women’s fairness market is approaching saturation, the cosmetics companies have set their guns to the other gender as well. Gone are the days of tall, dark and handsome. Next generation is expected to be fair and handsome. Even though the parents may be worshipping Shyam, they don’t want that Shyam to be their kid. But ironically, when that “gora chitta munda” goes to New York or London and becomes successful, they take pride on him becoming a successful “black” among the “racist whites”!!
And the amazing thing is that these same set of Indians have concluded all whites to be racist when they have a racism framework right at their homes since centuries. From religions to castes to even regions – mallu, bong, gujju, madrasi, chinki, naarth indiansaa, sardar, marwadi – we have categorized people and predefined notions (which we blindly believe as our elders told us) for each of those categories. But still we don’t believe we are racists. We are not racist when a North East guy is beaten to death in Delhi. We are not racist when north Indians are beaten up in Mumbai. We are not racist when a north Indian is harassed in Chennai as the locals refuse to speak in our “national language”. We are not racist when we ban certain communities from purchasing flats in a society. But when a white asks a single additional question to an Indian at New York airport, she is “definitely” racist.