When I was a teenager, I had a cousin who loved Bollywood films. We'd watch them for hours, well my cousin did, and she'd gaze in awe. Years laters, as I became more aware of the Bollywood industry's obsession with 'light skinned' actresses and skin lightening potions, my pleasant memories faded.
There is a trend in Bollywood to pressurise young men and women to either bleach their skin or have the colour of their skin airbrushed over with a white coat. The absurdity of the situation is incredibly hateful. It means you are of no value unless you're fair skinned.
The message is clear; you can't get the girl unless you're fair skinned. It's evidently discriminating against something that you're born with. Furthermore, it assumes that you are only of worth if you're pale skinned. Why? I believe that idealised notions of 'white' beauty are embedded in religious discrimination, the notion of 'whiteness' and purity. Furthermore, racist discourses become embedded in everyday culture and place absurd pressure on men and women's fragile self-esteem to look a certain way. Cultures built on self- loathing. Cultures and the media plays on these anxieties by capitalising on insecurity and self-loathing. And if you've never had a problem with your skin, don't worry, they'll create one for you.
You may argue that a lot of paler skinned Western women are equally obsessed with tans. But dark skin is still a taboo, as you can see from the suspiciously light skin of stars such as Beyonce, Rihanna and lil Kim.
Look at Beyonce, a beautiful African American woman reduced to a plastic, Barbie image. How can she possibly think she looks more beautiful now compared to what she was born with? Rihanna appears to have deep issues about herself, coerced to conform to an idealised cultural construct of what constitutes beauty. It's highly negative as it gives out shallow, destructive messages to her fans.
You may say that as humans, we are being creative in re-creating ourselves. We all want something different. Something we don't have. But have you ever questioned why? How would being lighter or darker improve the quality of our lives? Think about it.
These are negative, hateful depictions of men and women. The day we stop contributing to these evil skin lightening corporations, we will see a demise in the capitalist machinery that exploits, degrades and destroys both men and women's self-worth. Contrary to belief, the world does not revolve around white, western notions of beauty. All of us are people of colour. We need to embrace and celebrate our uniqueness. Learn to see ourselves for what we HAVE. WE ARE SENTIENT CREATURES, our beauty is distinctive and not reducible to shades of white, tan, brown or black.