Nina Davaluri, a dark beauty of Indian origin, recently got crowned as Miss America. She ended up eliciting a backlash of xenophobic and racist comments. Yet again, this brought to the fore our predisposition to judge people by the color of their skins.
We tend to forget that the pigmentation of our skins is a work of nature. To be able to judge people better, we have to look a little deeper. Their character, their attitudes and the qualities of head and heart are some of the attributes which define the real person behind the veneer of skin which could be of any hue or grain. Irrespective of the color of the skin, those who have true talent and a pure soul continue to outshine all around them in a very natural manner.
In marketing parlance, we live in times when the packaging appears to be more important than the product. But this is a myopic view of things. If the product does not perform to the satisfaction of the customer, it will eventually fade away. Likewise, irrespective of looks or the color of one’s skin, if a person has what it takes to be successful in a career, he/she is bound to get noticed sooner or later.
The Not-so-fair Divas
We have several examples out of tinsel town where gutsy divas are known to have clawed their way up to success despite having a skin tone which could be called anything but fair. Here is a quick look at some of those who continue to be heart throbs of millions of movie buffs all over the planet. Most of them have a multi-dimensional personality. Just to rustle up the memory cells, a single movie for each one of these divas also finds a mention. Admittedly, there are several others for which they are remembered.
(What’s Love Got to Do with It, 1993)
(Chashme Baddoor, 1981)
(Love Aaj Kal, 2009)
(Die Another Day, 2002)
(Maid in Manhattan, 2002)
Konkona Sen Sharma
(Mr. and Mrs. Iyer, 2002)
(Mirch Masala, 1985)
(English Vinglish, 2012)
The Perks of Being Chocolate-hued
All those who feel disheartened by the prominence of the fairer amongst us may take heart from the fact that most of them support a multi-billion industry which churns out fairness creams, thereby creating employment opportunities for many of our denizens.
Some orthopaedicians are of the opinion that those blessed with a dark skin have stronger bones because they end up absorbing much more Vitamin D from natural sunlight. Hence, they face lesser risk of being afflicted with either osteopenia or osteoporosis!
The Yearning for a Dark Tan
There are an equal number of fair skinned ones who would go to great lengths to acquire a darker tan. This yearning makes people pack up their bags and head to the nearest sun-bathed tropical beaches over most weekends.
In one of the immortal songs penned by lyricist Gulzar for an old Hindi movie ‘Bandini’ (The Imprisoned, Director Bimal Roy, 1963), the fair skinned heroine expresses her yearning for a darker complexion thus:
‘Mera gora ang layi le, mohe shyam rang dayi de,
Chuup jaoongi raat mein, mujhe pee ka sang dai de.’
(Take away my limbs so fair, give my skin a dark hue,
So I may hide in the dark night, grant me the company of my beloved’)
As we get ready to celebrate the Festival of Lights in India, let us be aware that the real darkness to be dispelled is that of some of our belief systems and prejudices. In some regions, these take the form of apartheid; in some areas, these manifest as exploitation of the disadvantaged; whereas in some others these come up as harassment of the delicately nurtured.
The diversity of homo-sapiens – whether in terms of race, caste, creed, ethnic origin, monetary status, sex and the hues of the skin – is a wonderful fact of life which simply deserves to be celebrated. The brown and black beauties and celebrities from Hollywood, Bollywood and elsewhere are living examples of the fact that merit ranks supreme in any walk of life!