‘Dark is Beautiful’
The Dark is beautiful campaign was launched by an organisation called Women of Worth, headed by Kavitha Emmanuel. I got to know about her only when she contacted me to lend support to the campaign and then by default I became a champion for it. This issue was always on the fringes of the work I did, but I am glad it has now come to the forefront. I have always been very outspoken about this issue, but till recently it was more informal. It is important to speak up and add one’s voice to campaigns that are for the larger good. So I will continue advocating what I believe in.
Too many young girls and now boys are losing their confidence purely because of a prejudice that discriminates. I have been getting lot of emails where mostly women, have shared their stories of discrimination. The media interest will not last forever and nor will the campaign, but it has triggered a debate that will have many tangible and intangible repercussions. I already see the ripples!
The glorification of the fair skin has been there in our lives for a very long time. This reflects the bias of the society. In subtle and blatant ways, our language has things like, uska rang saaf hai for fair people as if the dark skin is dirty! It is tough to combat a mindset that finds many manifestations in our Indian songs, stories, myths and fables.
I have faced it
As a child, some far off relative would ask me not to go out in the sun lest I became darker, or when I walked into a store that had cosmetics, salespersons would come to me with the best anti-tan or fairness cream. I have had directors/camerapersons telling me that it would be good if I made my skin lighter as I was playing an educated upper class woman! If I get told all this, despite most people knowing my stand, I wonder what the other dark women are subjected to. As long as women are objectified, they will be forced to buy into this story, that only if they were more “white/thin/beautiful” they would have a better chance in life, or that they would be good enough for this world.
Be yourself and be comfortable in your skin. Don’t let anybody rob you off your self-esteem. Focus on your interests and talents and do things that make you happy, instead of making your looks the focal point of your identity. Let your attitude and behavior define you and not just whatever you are born with. Stay natural, stay beautiful.
I have finished shooting for Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Ata Hai, a contemporary take on the film with the same name that was made 33 years ago. I am also continuing to perform Between the Lines in different cities. My advocacy work in Human Rights and monthly column in The Week continues. And of course my three year old son keeps me smiling and exhausted.