Let’s face the fact that we’re a nation that’s obsessed with skin colour.
In almost every Indian household, young girls and boys are taught to believe that fair or light skin is better. Mothers make haldi and besan face packs in the hope that it’ll lighten up their daughters’ skin colour.
It’s a problem that has been discussed at large, and many women and men have spoken up about how this skin color bias affected them growing up.
In Aranya Johar’s latest poem titled “A Brown Girl’s Guide to Beauty” she talks about how beauty brands and the people around humiliated her for being brown.
She also talks about how young girls and boys are body image conscious because magazines have glossy, photoshopped images of flawless men and women on their covers.
She rounds up her poem by explaining that before we expect people to love us for who we are and how we look, we have to love ourselves.
The poem is important at a time when we’re teaching kids to embrace their identities and not be ashamed of themselves. Young parents could take a leaf out of her poem, so that they don’t end up body shaming their kids like our parents and scores of uncles and aunties did to us.
What’s unsettling about this performance, though, is that it’s been sponsored by Shaadi.com under the hashtag “Wanted Fair Brides and Grooms”. Clearly Shaadi.com is going for an image update by associating themselves with socially conscious content. But their site allows you to fill in your body build and skin tone. Although it is not mandatory, the option is still there (I checked just to be doubly sure).
What is the need for it?
Just by allowing the options to exist, the site isn’t doing much in removing the social stigma associated with non-mainstream body types and skin tones, which rears its head especially when it comes to deciding whether people are “marriage material” or not.
So, before Shaadi.com creates a hashtag and promotes a progressive piece of poetry, I'd say the brand should take a step back and reassess. If these fields were removed, like they should be if they want to walk the talk, then people would be forced to look at other actually important characteristics of their potential bride or groom.
Watch Aranya Johar's poem here: