For most of my life, I thought of racism as existing only towards a race that’s different from your own.  Now that I’ve began to learn more about this subject, I realize racism can also be directed towards your own race.  One of the places where this type of racism has a strong presence in is in India.  Here, the racism goes skin-deep because it’s the tone of the color of an individual’s skin that determines his/her beauty.  To Indians, having dark skin is considered unattractive while having light skin is admirable.  But why is this exactly?

Many may argue that it has to do with India’s caste system.  When the system still applied, the lower class usually had to work outside, more easily getting burned by the sun and becoming “darker.”  The wealthy didn’t do manual work like the less fortunate and instead were more light skinned, consequently relating fair skin with money and power.  This mentality stayed with the Indian culture and has passed on through countless years.

In present day India, the message that fair skin is beautiful is portrayed through many channels of the media. Specifically, in Bollywood films, the main characters are typically of lighter skin tones compared to the majority of the Indian population.  Because lighter skin tones are more rare in that country, some even say that they’re simply put on the screen due to the producers preferring lighter skin over real talent.

Besides in Bollywood films, ads also discriminate against dark-skinned individuals and reproduce the image of beauty as being fair in color.  For instance, brands such as Garnier, Neutrogena, and Loreal all make and promote creams that will lighten a person’s skin.  Their ads say things such as, “Pearl perfect fairness,” “get up to 2 tones fairer in just 7 days,” or “Get radiant fairness that lasts even in the sun.” And of course the models in the pictures could pass as Hispanic or brunette Caucasians.  It’s incredible how far something as simple as skin color can influence people.

Garnier skin-lightening cream, Vogue India Garnier skin-lightening cream, Vogue India

However, no one went as far as Pond’s. They created a series of five commercials that started off with a girl with a dark complexion and her lover, saying goodbye to each other at an airport.  In the next scene, it’s three years later and the girl discovers her lover has left her for a different girl, with much lighter skin, after seeing a picture of the new couple on the cover of a magazine.  After so long, she sees the couple walking down the street, but at this point she still has dark skin.  Throughout the rest of the scenes, you can see how the girl starts using the Ponds’ cream and randomly keeps seeing her lover around town. In the end, her skin lightens up, and when her lover sees her, they take each other back.  It’s a “great” love story.  (Watch video here

It’s definitely upsetting to learn that even a small difference in something as insignificant as skin tone will determine how an individual will be treated.  What’s worse is that it’s beings from the same race! Hopefully, one day the country of India, and any other nation suffering of racism towards their own people, will learn to overcome such meaningless matters and learn to see that real beauty is not skin-deep.




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