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Get Out of That Skin


“Amma are people going to avoid me when I go to India?”

“Why would they do that?”

“Because I am dark!” She replied with a grin. 

That’s it. That’s just about it. I am seriously considering cancelling our subscription to all the Malayalam channels. Although a total non-TV person, I sometimes find myself lingering over a cup of chaya on the couch in front of the TV. More often than not, it is a commercial break and it takes me every ounce of strength, to draw upon my limited supply of patience to stop myself from yanking the cables off the TV when I find an asinine ad commiserating with the dark skinned girl.

Seriously? I thought we were done with this kind of idiocy with the eighties. For quite some time I remember the TV and magazines being free of those ‘fairness’ creamsthat almost gave me a complex. Back then it was only my innate fear for chemicals that kept me away from them.

Oh I tried other methods all right. ‘Kasthoori Manjal’, sun dried orange peel powdered and blended with fresh curd (thinking about the damn thing makes my skin sting!) and I even got my poor mom to make a highly complex Ayurvedic oil which promised a glowing skin. Needless to say, nothing worked. I finally found a cure – I got over it.

The moment I realised that being dusky was not bad at all was also the moment I realised how stupid I had been. Try it. After that you will only be amused by ‘well-meaning’ relatives who come up to you to pity the loss of colour that you apparently had as a baby. And even more amused by the ‘rejection’ from prospective mothers-in-law because the higher content of melanin in your skin busts their litmus test.

And now I am frankly surprised that all those ads are back. We live in an age when women are supposedly more empowered, getting out of ridiculous stereotypes and focusing more on things like career, socially relevant issues and the world at large. And here we are, once again telling young girls that they will get nowhere in life if they are dark. Are we not supposed to be bringing up women of substance? Telling them that what matters is what is in their heads and hearts.

I find it really difficult explaining these ads away, to my girls who are surrounded by friends who envy the tone of their skin and desperately slather nasty chemicals on their bodies to get ‘browner’.(It’s one extreme or the other.)

And know what’s even worse than young girls crawling into holes because of the tone of their skin? Young men doing it! These days the ads are targeting the Y chromosome too. I am tempted to yell at those boys fretting over their skin to go get a life.

News flash! Some of the best looking men are dark. As are some of the best looking women. Whatever happened to the tall dark and handsome men who had PYTs swooning over them? No I am not going into names here for either gender, simply because there are too many to name.

Whoever you are or whatever you do, the most important thing is to be comfortable in your own skin. Wear what complements your skin tone, whatever it is. Yes, looking good does make you feel good. But that can come only when you are comfortable with yourself. And try wearing a smile. Nothing adds to your personality like a smile from the heart.

And after those fairness creams comes another equally cringe worthy ad about the young girl who couldn’t get a husband because, like her mother worried, she wasn’t ‘filled- out’…. if you get my drift. Enter friend or neighbor, or whoever it was that was jobless, with the ‘miracle grow’ and voila! We have a blushing bride, filled out in all the right places. I wanted to go bang my head on a wall of granite.
And most often than not, this ad is usually followed by that mother of all con acts – the slimming potion. Like my pharmacist friend to whom I asked if those things actually worked, said, “At almost 200 bucks a bottle, it certainly works for me.”
I sincerely wish all those subversive commercials got banned. If you ask me, these are more harmful than the banned tobacco and alcohol ads. These corrode your confidence, eat away into your psyche and promote so much negativity, not to speak of the physical harm they cause. Take a look at the ingredients listed on them. Chances are, more than fifty percent of them are carcinogenic.

I think a good measure of blame for the craze for these products can be blamed on the mushrooming ‘TV Presenter’ career and the reality freak show. Suddenly everyone wants to be on TV and of course, that means looking good, which grotesquely translates into fair skin and a so-called good figure.

So if you are a TV person, take care. What little gray cells are left behind after the assault of the mind-numbing serials are sure to be washed away by these ads.

Will somebody just ban them all? Or if you are woman (or man) enough, just boycott the whole load of guano.

And as a parting note, one for all the beautiful dusky dames out there.(Yes, I am biased.)Take a trip down old Malayalam film songs. Notice the number of songs dedicated to the dark skinned girl?

I don’t think any fair skinned woman has ever been serenaded with the intensity of, “Karuthapenne ninne kaanuvaan, kadalthirapol kezhum kamukan…”

PS: To all my fair-skinned friends and family – No offence meant. I reserve my venom for the companies promoting a bad self-image among young men and women.

Read as originally posted at

“Karuthapenne ninne kaanuvaan, kadalthirapol kezhum kamukan…”


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