Sunday, June 03, 2007

Color Conscious

The other day we were having a discussion regarding the skin colors of people. Nature has not made all human beings to have same skin tone. We have people in some parts of the world, with the deepest of the deep browns bordering on black, to some people who are so fair that one could even see the blood through the veins near the skin. And in between these there are people of various color tones.

Are these skin tones just the color or do they signify more in our socio-economic structure and more so in the attitude of the people? It is not rocket science to conclude that they are more than just colors. These color of the skin has created histories and also have altered the outlook of the people in general over the thousands of years of our civilization. Biologically, there seems to be no difference between one human to another which can be addressed to the color of the skin, but socially it is much different.

We all know the most (in)famous fall out of the color discrimination - apartheid. It has been one of the most despicable, events in history of mankind where the color of the skin has been used to segregate the people and more so the natives of the land. Also closer home, it was similar but though it was not named so. I am not sure how this kind of social order crept in... was it just the power held by people with a certain color of skin which caused this or is it more. But I think this started much before apartheid actually was practiced at least with that name. I feel this kind of social order has crept in to mankind, where this kind of racism has been ingrained into our genes.

Has it really been eliminated? I don't think so. They still are very evident albeit in a more subtler way. The subtlety can be seen in the way we choose our housing neighborhoods, the way we interact with people with a different color and so on and so forth. In many cases in India, even though as a race, the skin tones range from fair to dark, there can be many instances of this preferential status to people with fairer skin. It is funny to see people advertise oneself to be on the fairer side in matrimonial ads even though one is not. For example, a person with brown complexion, would advertise himself/herself as fair and a real dark person would advertise himself as brown. On the lighter note, the matrimonial ads should have an entry, just like ones age, a quantifiable measure of ones complexion.. may be in wavelength of these colors.. LOL !! BTW, people have invented a word called "wheatish" complexion, to signify a color similar to wheat.

Even surprising still is the reaction of a person on the street, to another person who is fairer.. I am talking of people, say a roadside peddler may show a slightly higher amount of respect to a fair person, on first sight until he/she has conversed for sometime when the perspective could change. But the initial reaction is something which is to be noted.

The more interesting part is the constant craving of "becoming" fair. The youth especially see that being fair instantly adds a charm in the eyes of the opposite sex and they stand a better chance of landing a date or friendship. And actually in many cases I guess it is true as the opposite sex is also from the same culture and thinks the same way. The cosmetics and marketing industry are one of the other bunch of people who cash in on this notion of the people especially the youth. Each company boasts of creams and gels and what not which can make one fairer. Some even talk about 100% satisfaction in 30 days etc. One other company markets a product only to the men folk. The ad says "Don't use creams which are meant for women, use this.. This is meant for men" LOL !!! This is a huge industry.

The ads for these products removes any subtlety I talked about earlier. They depict very clearly, how being fair was advantageous and hence their product needs to be used. There was this add for one such cream, where a girl was going to audition for the role of a commentator for cricket matches. The add shows that she was selected just because she used their cream and became fair and hence was selected. I never knew one had to be fair to be able to comment on a cricket match where the commentator is hardly shown on the television screens. :-) Such is the message which is told by the industry.

While a country like India, manufactures tons of creams to make oneself fair, there are all these people in the "fairer" part of the world, who want to become dark :-). People in Europe and America's wait for the summer and go and lie by the pool or on the beach next to being naked, wanting to get tanned. And in winter or if they cannot access a pool or a beach, they get hold of the ultraviolet or whatever based indoor tanners, where one lies down in a box with a weird light all around him/her. This supposedly gives an even tan to the whole body. This is hilarious. All of us are never satisfied with whatever skin color we have. The fair wants to become dark whilst the dark wants to become fair.

To end the post, another funny dialogue from a movie.

Son : Mother, why did you give birth to me dark?
Mother : So that you will not become dirty.

ROTFL !!!!

1 comment:

Rambler said...

Discrimination of any kind has begun to hurt me, I know I am totally not free of it myself, atleast I try, gender, sex , color and nationality, why do we even care, as I said some time back, we got to grow up..
Atleast educated people need to consider growing..