Black or White?
Have you ever been judged on the basis of the color of your skin? Have you ever been denied opportunities because of the color of your skin? Have you ever been disliked because of the color of the skin? Have you ever cursed the color of the skin that you were born with? Did you ever have to fight against all the insecurities and the prejudices to discover the real person who is living under that skin?
I had to go through all that.
I was always called as Karuvachi (blackie) by some of my relatives. It was a term of endearment and it did not actually affect me till I stepped into my adolescence. You have to really step into my shoes if you have to understand what I am talking about. I am dark skinned, my favorite past time is to be in the play ground( as I was an active sports person) and my mom usually applied almost a quarter of bottle of oil on my hair, as I had long hair that hung well below my hip like a snake. Now you can imagine all the oil on my skin as I kept running around in the sun, and with my dark skin, I looked like the stone statues in the old temples that had an oil bath before the pooja. My mother used to apply lime juice, banana and what not in the hopes of lightening my skin. Much to my mother’s dismay I was not even a bit bothered by that.
In my school every year we had cultural and the dance drama was the show stopper. Dance was my passion and I was never offered the meatier character roles because of the color of my skin. To be disregarded for my color marked me forever.
I belonged to a group of girls who were fair, lissome and beautiful. Obviously the guys flocked around them. (Let us be frank, there I was, sixteen years old in the peak of my adolescence and I did want a little bit of attention from the boys. I was a normal teenager). I was their bosom buddy but no one made me think that I was beautiful (I was unbelievable in those days.) Sometimes when my friends felt bad how they have become tanned because of the sun and as a result how they looked black in color I wondered what they were cribbing about.
All those advertisements that kept playing how their cream can make anyone miraculously fair unconsciously sending the message that fair is beautiful. How many beauty creams, so many false promises and hopes.
At eighteen years old I had a low self esteem, never bothered about the way I was dressed and always dressed up in dull colors and who has been repeatedly told through so many ways and by so many people that being dark was a disadvantage and not beautiful. Not every one who is dark skinned go through these kind of insecurities but the environment that I was in was not very conducive for me to grow as an individual who believed in her self worth. It repeatedly gave me a message that fair was beautiful. Though my parents called me black diamond I never really believed that.
It took me a long time to climb out of the pit that I had dug for myself with the help of the comments of other people. When I started meeting people who were not bothered whether I was dark or fair and who saw the real me I slowly started to make the climb to the peak that is called self confidence
Then the advertisements in the paper that ask for a fair bride. Well when the grooms can be tall, dark and handsome why can’t the brides be dusky skinned beauties? Trust me I know what I am talking about. When my father was seeking an alliance for me many a times my photographs came back because I was dark. That did not hurt me at that time as I had come over my low self esteem and my father was also very firm that he was not going to give my hand in marriage to a person who only saw my color rather than the other qualities I had. Then I met my husband who fell in love with me in spite of my skin color (though my mother in law had some misgivings in the initial days about my color, as the hubby of mine is fairer than me. Slowly as she came to know me she over came it)
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It is the heart and soul that is inside that matters and not the skin that clothes it. Naomi Campbell, Serena Williams, Michelle Obama, Serena Williams, Kajol, every one of them dark beauties who are at the top of their Profession.
When my daughter now comes and asks me,” Amma why am I brown in color?” I reply, “Baby we are living in the tropics. We have to be brown skinned to protect us from the harmful UV rays.”
Black or white, what you are inside makes you beautiful.