Dark is Beautiful: The Battle to End the World’s Obsession With Lighter Skin

Dark is Beautiful: The Battle to End the World’s Obsession With Lighter Skin

Skin colour bias has spawned a global, multibillion-dollar industry in cosmetic creams and invasive procedures. Mary-Rose Abraham talks to consumers and campaigners in India about the dangers this poses – and how to stop it

Mary-Rose Abraham – The Inequality Project is supported by Ford Foundation | The Guardian UK

“It starts when children are young: the moment a child is born, relatives start comparing the skin colour of siblings. It starts in your own family – but people don’t want to talk about it openly.”      

Kavitha Emmanuel is the founder of Women of Worth, an Indian NGO that is standing up to bias toward lighter skin. The Dark Is Beautiful campaign, launched in 2009, is not “anti-white”, she says, but about inclusivity – beauty beyond colour. It carries celebrity endorsement, most notably from the Bollywood actor Nandita Das, and provides a forum for people to share their personal stories of skin colour bias.

The campaign runs media literacy workshops and advocacy programmes in schools to counteract colour bias. Emmanuel says this even occurs in school textbooks, where a picture of a fair-skinned girl might be labelled “beautiful” and a darker one “ugly”.

“Some children are really shocked that this affects them so intensely,” Emmanuel says. “Some are in tears [during the workshops].”

This is not bias, this is racism. There is a whiteness travelling from the USA to shopping malls in other countries

Professor Sunil Bhatia

A perfect life from perfect skin – but only for those of the right shade – is the message and mindset that’s being passed down. This has spawned a multibillion-dollar industry in cosmetic creams and invasive procedures such as skin bleaching, chemical peels, laser treatments, steroid cocktails, “whitening” pills and intravenous injections – all with varying effectiveness and health risks. It’s more than a bias, it’s a dangerous cultural obsession.

Multinational cosmetics brands have found a lucrative market: global spending on skin lightening is projected to triple to $31.2bn (£24bn) by 2024, according to a report released in June 2017 by the research firm Global Industry Analysts. The driving force, it says, is “the still rampant darker skin stigma, and rigid cultural perception that correlates lighter skin tone with beauty and personal success”.

“This is not bias. This is racism,” says Sunil Bhatia, a professor of human development at Connecticut College. Bhatia recently wrote in US News & World Report about deep-rooted internalised racism and social hierarchies based on skin colour.

In India, these were codified in the caste system, the ancient Hindu classification in which birth determined occupation and social stratum. At the top, Brahmins were priests and intellectuals; at the bottom, outcastes were confined to the least-desired jobs such as latrine cleaners. Bhatia says caste may have been about more than just occupation: the darker you looked, the lower your place in the social hierarchy.

Fair skin bias was perpetuated and strongly reinforced by colonialism, not just in India but in dozens of countries ruled by a European power. It’s the idea that the ruler is fair-skinned, says Emmanuel: “All around the world, it was a fact that the rich could stay indoors versus the poor who worked outside and were dark-skinned.”

Now globalisation is spreading the bias. “There is an interesting whiteness travelling from the USA to shopping malls in other countries, featuring white models,” Bhatia says. “You can trace a line from colonialism, post-colonialism and globalisation.”

Western beauty ideals, including fair skin, dominate worldwide. And with these ideals come products to service them. In Nigeria, 77% of the country’s women use skin-lightening agents; in Togo, 59%. But the largest and fastest-growing markets are in the Asia-Pacific region. In India, a typical supermarket will have a wall of personal care products featuring “whitening” moisturiser or “lightening” body creams from well-known brands.

‘Deformation not transformation’

Pooja Kannan, 27, from Mumbai, spent years buying cosmetics that promised to lighten her complexion. She bought creams, facewash and soaps for treating “skin fairness problems”, spending Rs 200–300 every two months – equivalent to a week’s worth of travel to her college. Over four years of use, she says her skin did lighten up a little, but wonders whether that was due to the cream or her taking more care when going out in the sun.

Kannan’s natural skin tone is a healthy light brown, but when she was growing up, her aunts would shake their heads in disappointment over her complexion. A tan would lead some relatives and classmates to admonish her: “You’ve turned black,” they said. In India, where skin tone often defines success, ability to find work or a spouse, such comments matter. Kannan says she felt insecure.

“When I was getting dressed up to go out, I would remember what they said and put on more make-up.” Kannan is also a dancer and felt discriminated in performances too. “The prettier, skinnier and fairer girls are positioned at the front of the stage,” she says. “That gets to you.”

Movies, TV programmes and especially adverts reinforced the bias. In 2016, actor Emma Watson (of Harry Potter fame) had to issue a statement saying she would no longer endorse products which “do not always reflect the diverse beauty of all women”, after criticisms of her earlier appearance in adverts in Asia for Lancôme’s Blanc Expert line. (In a statement, Lancôme emphasised the product’s “evening” rather than lightening properties, saying that it “helps brighten, evens skin tone, and provides a healthy-looking complexion. This kind of product, proposed by every brand, is an essential part of Asian women’s beauty routines.”)

I was so surprised when I came to India that your chances of getting married depend on your skin colour

Ema Trinidad

In 2014, the Advertising Standards Council of India banned adverts depicting people with darker skin as inferior, but products are still marketed. Ads for skin-lightening creams still appear in newspapers, on television and on billboards, featuring Bollywood celebrities such as Shah Rukh Khan, John Abraham and Deepika Padukone.

In multiple Facebook posts in April, actor Abhay Deol called out several of his colleagues for endorsing fairness creams. In the Hindustan Times, he wrote: “Advertising preaches that we would get a better job, a happier marriage and more beautiful children if we were fair. We are conditioned to believe that life would have been easier had we been born fairer.”

Skin lightening is not the sole preserve of the modern cosmetics industry. India’s traditional Ayurveda medical system teaches that pregnant women can improve their foetus’s complexion by drinking saffron-laced milk and eating oranges, fennel seeds and coconut pieces. Earlier this year, an Ayurvedic practitioner in Kolkata led a session for expectant couples, promising that even dark-skinned, short parents could have tall and fair children.

A 2012 study by a women’s health charity in India found that childless couples often insisted on – and paid more for – surrogates who were beautiful and fair, even though the woman contributed no genetic material to the baby.

But perhaps nowhere is the fair skin preference more ingrained than in newspaper classified adverts seeking a spouse. Along with requirements for the prospective bride or groom’s caste, religion, profession and education, physical characteristics are listed too. Someone described as “dusky” may be skipped in favour of one who is of a “fair” complexion.

“Potential brides spend a lot of money; it’s really unlimited in the months before the wedding,” says Ema Trinidad, a Filipina beautician who runs a spa in Bengaluru. “I was so surprised when I came here that your chances of getting married depend on your skin colour. We don’t have that in the Philippines.”

The mindset is so normalised that many people accept fairness treatments as a standard part of wedding preparations – for men as well as women. When Karthik Panchapakesan got married in 2001, he was intrigued by ads for a “complete makeover” and decided to try it out.

“I had never gone to a salon before,” says the media specialist working in community radio. “The massage felt really good. Then they put this fruity and flowery white paste all over my forehead, cheeks, nose and chin. They promised it would even out my skin.”

Panchapakesan said his eyes started burning after about five minutes, and he got an irritation around his nose as the sweet smell turned to acrid fumes. He suspected it was based on ammonia: “It was more chemical than horseradish,” he says. When it was all done, his face looked as if it had been dusted with talcum powder. “It was not a transformation, it was a deformation.”

The Danger of Cosmetics

Most skin-lightening treatments target the skin’s ability to produce pigment, or melanin, which gives skin, hair and eyes their colour. Everyone has about the same number of cells to make melanin, but how much you actually produce is down to your genes. Having more natural melanin means darker-skinned people tend to develop fewer wrinkles and are less at risk of skin cancer.

Skin-lightening creams often aim to interrupt the production of melanin or just improve the general health of the skin. They can contain a natural ingredient such as soy, liquorice or arbutin, sometimes combined with the medical lightening agent hydroquinone (not all creams contain this: hydroquinone is a potentially carcinogenic ingredient, and products containing it are banned or restricted in Ghana, South Africa, the Ivory Coast, Japan, Australia and the European Union, though they are still used illegally).

Mercury was also previously found in some lightening creams and soaps, according to the World Health Organisation. Mercury suppresses the production of melanin, but can also damage the kidneys and brain if it is absorbed by the skin and accumulates in the body.

Other lightening methods include a chemical peel, which removes the top layer of your skin – leaving fresher skin exposed to harmful solar radiation and environmental pollutants. Laser treatments offer an even more aggressive approach by breaking up a skin’s pigmentation, sometimes with damaging results.

“There’s a pressure on Indian men and women,” says Dr Sujata Chandrappa, a Bengaluru-based dermatologist. “They have some role model in their head and they want to get there no matter what. That’s the wrong concept.”

Chandrappa says clients often come in wanting the skin tone of a favourite Bollywood celebrity. “If their obsession is just with colour, then I will outright tell them I’m more worried they’re unnecessarily seeking something they don’t need. If I encourage them too much, I get the sense that I’m promoting racism.”

Shannah Mendiola spends 3,200 rupees (£40) a month on skin-lightening supplements – a lot by local standards, but Mendiola has a well-paying job with a multinational company. Originally from the Philippines but now working in Bengaluru, Mendiola says she has been taking the pills for the past five years, not just for lighter skin but for their antioxidant properties.

“I like going to the beach and I feel really dark after a holiday,” she tells me by email. “I would always prefer to buy and use skincare products that contain skin-whitening ingredients – like my body lotion, face wash and moisturiser. In the Philippines, it’s always a plus if you are fair.”

Mendiola describes herself as Morena – not too fair and not too dark – and says her skin returns to its natural colour faster when she uses the pills. “Having an even skin tone that’s healthy and glowing gives me more self-confidence when I meet people for work. Why not? Don’t we all want to look good?”

The pills she takes are glutathione, an antioxidant naturally produced by the liver that can protect the skin from UV rays and free radicals, which contribute to skin damage and pigmentation.

When the patient stops using the cream, the skin reacts and develops rashes – so they start again. It’s a vicious cycle

Dr Shyamanta Barua

A more direct form of treatment is glutathione injections. These are commonly used to counteract the side-effects of chemotherapy, such as nausea, hair loss or difficulty in breathing, but their growing popularity for skin lightening has led to official concern.

In 2011, the Philippine Food and Drug Administration issued a public warning about an “alarming increase in the unapproved use of glutathione administered intravenously”. It highlighted adverse effects including skin rashes, thyroid and kidney dysfunction, and even the potentially fatal Stevens–Johnson syndrome, in which the skin peels from the body as if burned.

In 2015, the US Food and Drug Administration warned of the potentially significant safety risk to consumers: “You’re essentially injecting an unknown substance into your body – you don’t know what it contains or how it was made.”

Nevertheless, there is growing consumer demand. Mendiola has taken two treatments of injectable glutathione, but mostly relies on pills.

Dr Mukta Sachdev, a clinical and aesthetic dermatologist in Bengaluru, refuses to administer the injections, despite repeated requests from her patients. “I practise on evidence-based dermatology, and there’s not enough literature supporting the use of injectable glutathione.” On the web, there are many videos showing how to self-inject the substance.

“From a medical perspective, it is not possible to lighten skin permanently – but you can even it out,” Sachdev says. In fact, many of her patients are actually seeking treatment for problems with other skin-lightening procedures – primarily the use of steroid creams.

India’s pharmaceutical regulator has approved at least 18 different corticosteroids for topical skin use, ranging from mild to super-potent. These usually cost less than £1.50 a tube, and most pharmacies across the country will dispense them, even without a prescription.

People apply corticosteroids indiscriminately to treat pimples or for fairer skin, but steroid creams take off the protective outer layer of the skin, so it is more exposed to UV rays and environmental pollutants such as smog and cigarette smoke. But more worrying is that they can be addictive, says dermatologist Dr Shyamanta Barua.

“The moment the patient stops using the cream, the skin reacts, gets irritated, develops rashes,” he says. “So the patient starts the cream again and it’s a vicious cycle. They become psychologically addicted.” He thinks users should be counselled as if they were addicted to recreational drugs or alcohol.

Furthermore, there are signs that improper steroid prescriptions – often in cocktails containing a mix of steroids, antibiotics and antifungals – may be fuelling a surge in bugs resistant to normal treatments. Dr Rajetha Damisetty, a cosmetic dermatologist in Hyderabad, talks about one combination containing Clobetasol – the most potent steroid known to humans, which is used to treat inflammatory skin conditions like eczema – mixed with two antibiotics and two antifungals. “Only India has this crazy combination,” Damisetty says, adding that the result is a “nightmare”.

Typically, she says, “around 70–90% of those affected by fungal infections would have used topical steroids for treatment, and they would respond within two weeks. But now we are having to give four times the dosage for eight to 12 weeks. It’s an epidemic across the entire country.”

Changing attitudes?

Campaigners standing up against the world’s bias towards lighter skin are fighting more than just bad medical practice and consumer habits. They are battling millennia-old preferences for lighter skin.

Women of Worth founder Emmanuel is optimistic, however. She believes people are more aware of the issue than ever before, and hopes the next generation will see things differently – not just in India, but across the world.

In 2016, three students at the University of Texas, Austin, started an Instagram campaign called Unfair & Lovely – a play on the name of India’s most popular fairness cream. The #unfairandlovely hashtag invited darker-skinned people to share their photos.

In 2013, a young woman in Pakistan, Fatima Lodhi, launched the country’s first anti-colourism movement, called Dark is Divine. Lodhi has written about the prejudice she faced as a child: “I never got a chance to become a fairy in my school plays because fairies are supposed to be fair-skinned!” Now, she leads sessions at schools to make students more aware about skin colour discrimination.

Attitudes are starting to change among women as they gain greater confidence from education, employment and financial independence outside the home. Emmanuel describes one Dark is Beautiful session at an all-girls middle school in the southern Indian city of Chennai:

A dark-skinned teen – “stunningly beautiful but with deep self-esteem issues” – came to the front. She was weeping because, just that morning, her brother had taunted her about her skin tone.

Emmanuel was more surprised, however, when another, lighter-skinned, girl stood up. She said she’d believed dark was ugly until that moment, but apologised to her classmates with a promise to treat them better.

“They all started clapping,” Emmanuel recalls. “That’s a big move for a teenager. She really had the bigness of heart to say something like that.”

This is an edited version of an article first published by Wellcome on mosaicscience.com. It is republished here under a Creative Commons licence

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Comments

  • Ric Hinds  On September 4, 2017 at 8:14 pm

    Disingenuous: “Indo” Guyaanese worship the “lighter skin”. Their boast that,” it is not about the colour; it is about the hair (type)”, is frequently levelled at “blacks with different hair”.
    “Blacks” are not part of the consideration of this well meaning young (Indian) woman. It is about her/their treatment at the hands of whites/ white skinned Indians because of her/their skin colour.
    Remember: Ghandi never complained about the treatment of blacks (kaffirs) by their white “masters”; he wanted to end this practice against Indians whom he objected to being included in the category of kaffirs. While acknowledging the superior birthright of whites, he even boasted of having killed more than 20 blacks as a soldier in testimony to that belief.All he asked was that blacks and Indians bot be treated alike.
    Hence, this is not a fight for the ” kinky haired Blacks” because, despite his skin colour – and many of them are shades lighter than many Indians – they will never be able to assimilate in the “OTHER THAN” race. When this Indian considers herself part of the black race, this will become a universal fight.

  • Leslie Chin  On September 4, 2017 at 11:11 pm

    Skin colour is determined by the amount of sunlight residents of a region receive. Sub-Sahara Africans and South Asians are darkest because they receive a lot of sunlight. Northern Europeans have light skin to absorb sunlight for vitamin D. Other traits evolved to suit the environment – large heart and lungs for high altitudes, tall and thin to dissipate heat, short and rotund to conserve heat. However people have been moving around since Columbus rediscovered the New World so they did not have time to evolve by Darwinian evolution so we have all colours in multi-racial societies like the US and Canada.

  • guyaneseonline  On September 5, 2017 at 7:54 am

    Twins, One White and One Black, Get Ready to Start Middle School: ‘I Notice People Doing Double-Takes’

    Twins, One White and One Black, Get Ready to Start Middle School: ‘I Notice People Doing Double-Takes’
    Marcia and Millie Biggs’ mom has already visited their school to tell teachers the girls are in fact twins.
    https://www.yahoo.com/beauty/twins-one-white-one-black-173821497.html?.tsrc=daily_mail&uh_test=1_16

  • Clyde Duncan  On September 5, 2017 at 10:53 am

    Marcia and Millie Biggs – Inside Edition

  • Clyde Duncan  On September 5, 2017 at 11:00 am

    Ric Hinds, you give new meaning to the concept of ‘….. off on a tangent!’

    – to say the least.

    • Ric Hinds  On September 5, 2017 at 11:20 am

      Just be happy with your accident of birth…your luck of the draw: dark and black are unequivocal and ambiguous terms, meaning different things to different people.
      Incidentally, I am as black (In mind, body and soul) as I can be….to say “the least”.

    • Ric Hinds  On September 5, 2017 at 11:27 am

      And, Mr. Duncan, if you truly understood the concept of the term “tangent” you would have been able to understand the “calculus” of my meaning.
      But I guess math is not your forte; hence, deductive reasoning is missing from your education – or lack thereof.
      I truly sympathatize.

  • walter  On September 5, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    So funny just got off the phone with my sister. we were discussing the blacks/Indian problems in Guyana. we both left Guyana over forty years ago, then you could have safely assume a person’s “race” by their name, not so today. In those days school was the equalizer, never a one race domination, fierce competition every single day. Had to come to N A to hear Asians are smarter, point is, there is no difference, we are all the same, just manipulated and forced by politicians for their own benefits, everyone has the power to influence their own surroundings.

    • Ric Hinds  On September 5, 2017 at 12:56 pm

      So true…especially with the “SMARTER ASIANS/WHITE” bull###.
      Here’s how to solve this problem. “DOUGLAFY” the races – person the expressions: get lighter / WHITE men to co -habitate with darker women, and conversely, have darker men continue the practice of sleeping with lighter/ whiter women.
      Over time, we will become a homogeneous mix. Until then, enjoy who we are.🤣

    • Ric Hinds  On September 5, 2017 at 1:06 pm

      AND I AM AS MUUULLLLTIII RACIAL AS ANYONE CAN BE.
      THE ORIGIN AND REASON FOR THE MOVEMENT IS QUESTIONABLE…hence my original comments.

  • Ron Saywack  On September 5, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    Our understanding of the human journey on the planet, regrettably, is limited, to say the least. Similarly, our exploration of the universe at large has only just begun. There’s a lot, lot more still to be learned.

    Our prejudices and obsession with skin color is appalling.

    In 1972, Apollo 17, the last manned mission to the Moon, took some iconic photographs of the Earth. As the craft neared the vicinity of the lunar orbit, the men on board turned the cameras back into space, in the direction of Earth, against the backdrop of the stars. And there it was, that beautiful Pale Blue Dot, the home of all mankind, of abode of every child that was ever born, and will ever be born.

    From that vantage point, you cannot tell that humans even inhabit that round object, hurtling through space at nearly 30 kilometers a second. You cannot tell that there is a wide temperature variation from one region to the other.

    Skin color, as Leslie Chin points out, is directly related to geography, more precisely, ancestral geography. Had there been an even temperature distribution all across the globe, everyone everywhere would have sported the exact same skin tone. Yes, the exact same skin tone!

    It is therefore not a coincidence that people in the northern, temperate zones are light-skinned and those near the Equator are dark-skinned. That is simply how nature works. Melanin is produced below the epidermis to protect humans from the Sun’s harmful ultra-violet rays. Melanin both protects and darkens the skin. You are not special because your skin is light or less worthy if your skin is dark. That, in a nutshell, is (or should be) the reality.

    Those residing in regions where they receive less sunlight will also produce less melanin in the dermis. Consequently, over time, the skin lightens. That is how mother nature works!

    It is shameful that so many cultures have such an ingrained obsession with skin color to favor those with lighter skin. Bollywood, in particular, should be ashamed of itself for not doing enough to promote diversity.

    In respect to hair, the primary reason why Africans have short, curly hair is simply because of exposure to the hot sun over millions of years. African hair is, intrinsically, no different than anyone else’s.

    In the final analysis, there is beauty, talent, and grace in every skin color, as there is evil. It is high time that the world comes to its senses and start accepting the reality that there is only one race, the human race.

    Alas, we are all occupants on the Pale Blue Dot for a brief moment in time. Let’s make it count.

    • Ric Hinds  On September 6, 2017 at 2:16 am

      The science of skin colour is rudimentary.
      I was simply commenting on the faceitousness of an Indian complaining about it when it doesn’t enter into their consciousness when they use their hair texture to claim genetic superiority over ‘Blacks.
      If yours is a West Indian experience, you know exactly what i mean. In all, but their skin colour, indians indians claim genetic equivalence with whites.
      Like I said, Indians do not consider themselves “Blacks”, ie., part of the black race. 99 times out of 100 they equivocate about being “Brown”. Let “real black people’s take up this cause and then I’ll advise them to stop wasting their damn time.
      Enough Said!

      • Youman  On September 8, 2017 at 9:48 am

        Guyanese are racist especially the Indians who think they are superior to the blacks. .
        Very backward people who just love to obeah when they are jealous of what you have .
        At the end of day they all come from the bush with no flushing toilet so they should stop this nonsense about class and dissing black skin people regardless of whether their indian or African descent.

  • Clyde Duncan  On September 5, 2017 at 11:42 pm

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On September 6, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    Mention Skin Bleaching and Indians come to mind. Why? Because India/Indians are favourite targets by some groups – the ‘white’ media racism and Guyanese racist Blacks. I will just deal with the latter for now. Somehow, the racism clouds the vision of the Ric Hinds ilk in Guyana. If he/they had read Yvonne Sam’s last April article on this site they would see it is NOT just an Indian/Indo-Guyanese peculiarity but Africans both in the Caribbean and Africa (and USA and UK) are hooked on skin-whitening. She wrote:

    “Casting aside all semantics Jamaica is not the only country currently plagued by the bleaching or whitening itch, as similar situations play out daily before our very eyes right here in North America. The largest and most damaging racism occurs amongst ourselves, although we don’t address it, but we know it’s always there. , as we continue to define each other or cast negative and denigratory remarks based on skin color, such as —jet black, shades of midnight, fair skinned, high colored, dirty red. etc.  On repeated occasions we are reminded either directly or by subtle means that light is right. Family members have also been known to remind other family members that lighter girls are prettier than darker ones. In the past and even today it appears that these appallingly egregious opinions are still the norm, where some mothers still tell their sons to marry only light skinned women, so as not to have dark babies”
    https://guyaneseonline.wordpress.com/2017/04/28/blacks-bleaching-and-the-willie-lynch-letter-by-yvonne-sam/#comment-179394

    Then there is this article in The Journal of Pan African Studies, vol. 4, no. 4, June 2011, indicting Africans in Africa, et al.

    ” Skin-lightening, or bleaching, has reached epidemic levels in scores of nations around the globe, and especially in many African nations including Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Senegal, Mali, South Africa, and Nigeria (Adebajo, 2002; Blay, 2009; Harada et al, 2001; Lewis et al, 2009; Mahe et al, 1993; Mahe, Ly & Gounongbe, 2004; Olumide et al, 2008). Although both men and women engage in skin-whitening practices of various sorts, women generally have higher rates of skin-whitening than men, and women also sometimes apply skinwhitening products to their children (Counter & Buchanan, 2004; Fokuo, 2009). This paper will investigate why women bleach, and why men and women in Africa and the African Diaspora encourage women to bleach their skin.”

    http://www.jpanafrican.org/docs/vol4no4/HUNTER%20Final.pdf

    Veda Nath Mohabir

  • Clyde Duncan  On September 6, 2017 at 7:25 pm

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On September 6, 2017 at 10:50 pm

    Earlier this year, Jan 31, 2017, I sent the following letter (full text provided) responding to the Toronto Star’s article by the Business Editor, David Olive’s: “India debate intensifies over skin-lightening”. As been happening for over 12 years, the TO Star seldom publishes my letters. I have written their Public Editor over the discrimination, but to no avail. The Star pretends to be a liberal, Left of Centre paper but is staunchly anti-India/Hindus because of what seems to be a Judeo-Christian, pro-Muslim stance (Abrahamic co-religionists). So, India/Hindus generally get a bad rap.

    Dear Letters Editor:
    Please publish the following letter to rejoin David Olive’s ‘India debate intensifies over skin-lightening’. The background to this problem in India (while not unique to India) needs to be told, as my letter sets out to do.
    Yours Truly,
    Veda Nath Mohabir

    India’s skin-lightening institutionalized by outsiders.

    Re. India debate intensifies over skin-lightening; Jan 30/17.
    Unfortunately, it’s an uphill battle which the Indian Women of Worth is fighting. The whitening creams are pushed by the very high profile Bollywood actors, Shah Rukh Khan (Emami ad) and Priyanka Chopra (Garnier ad). Ms. Chopra was even awarded the 4th highest Indian national (Padma Shree) award; and last week, the American People’s Choice Award for ‘Favourite Dramatic TV actress.

    Some background is instructive. The colour barrier facing Indians was actually introduced from outside. According to the now ‘alternative facts’ Aryan Invasion Theory white-skinned Central Asians invaded India and drove the dark-skinned natives south. Thus, the colour dichotomy was institutionalized. Then, for a millennium until independence in 1947, India’s ruling elites were again outside white-skinned Islamic conquerors (eg., Emperor Akbar descended from Mongol Tamerlane) and followed by Europeans. Even India’s caste system was rigidly entrenched by Britain via the censuses. Formerly, caste (European ‘casta ’meaning lineage) was fluid and served the purpose as a welfare state in hard times. English language, too, was part of Britain’s way to “… form a class … between us and the millions whom we govern … Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect” (Lord Macaulay’s 1835 Minute). “In India, Tharps notes that British colonization institutionalized the discrimination of people with darker skin” (Washington Post, Jan 27).

    Three characters evidence ‘no colour barrier’ in pre-conquest India. Hindu avatars (God incarnates) Krishna and Rama were dark-skinned. So too, was Princess Draupadi, the most important female character in the Mahabharata epic.

    Veda Nath Mohabir
    Toronto

    This letter admits the problem, which is boosted by Bollywood high profile stars (eg. Shah Rukh Khan is known as “King Khan”). But I wanted to show that the colour issue has been introduced and entrenched by a fictional white-skinned invaders vs dark-skinned native Indians. The TO Star wants none of that because they are committed to the Aryan Invasion Theory (AIT), plus they want to blame Hindu caste system (supposed based on the said AIT). See here for lots on genomic studies which I provided to trash the pernicious AIT. https://guyaneseonline.wordpress.com/2017/08/28/why-do-north-indians-look-different-from-south-indians-the-genetics-of-south-asia-video/?replytocom=198077#respond

    It may have escaped you but the article’s author is “Mary-Rose Abraham” of the Inequality Project, supposedly an Indian but without an Indian name. Similarly, “Kavitha Emmanuel is the founder of Women of Worth, an Indian NGO” with a last name that is NOT Indian. In the article I provided above from the Pan African Journal, a name like Abraham’s and Emmanuel’s is deemed “social capital”. Their Judeo-Christian names will get them better acceptance.. As well, these names were given to them/their parents on conversion to Christianity (or Judaism). This way, they became estranged from their Indian traditions. I meet several people such as them who look down on their Indian traditions (and of course religion, seen as pagan)

    So, India doesn’t just have a skin-bleaching problem ( as do Africans and other dark-skinned people) but a name-bleaching problem as well!

  • Veda Nath Mohabir  On September 7, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    As I was making the last post, coincidentally, I saw this piece where Priyanka Chopra is regretting endorsing skin- bleaching, now claiming ‘she actually likes her skin tone’. Hypocrite!!! (after she has ‘banked’ on it). She and most of Bollywood damage Indian culture, along with pushing ‘skin-bleaching’ and project a false (bling, bling) view of India (the otherwise recognized Mother of Western and most of Eastern civilizations), while misleading Indian youths who see these types as role models (just as most western youths valorize Rap and Hip_Hop celebrities). The western film-makers love her (she does have talent) because is a good action star and ever wiilling to do racy scenes. Currently, she is “Guest of Honour” at the world-renowned annual TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival).

    http://www.msn.com/en-ca/entertainment/celebrity/priyanka-chopra-regrets-endorsing-a-skin-lightening-cream-i-actually-like-my-skin-tone/ar-AArpGcZ?li=AAadgLE&ocid=spartanntp

    Veda Nath Mohabir

    • Youman  On September 8, 2017 at 8:00 am

      Guyanese especially the Indian ones are racist when it comes to colour. For some reason or another they don’t like black skin people . They associate it with working in the rice field and labouring jobs .. also associated with being low nation.

      If they are not racist they are jealous practising obeah & witchcraft even though they go temple and mosque . Obeah is rife in guyana

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