In a country, and world, obsessed with fairness, it is very difficult for women with dusky skin to find their footing. Be it in the beauty and fashion industry or just in life. We all know at least one person who has been ridiculed for their colour, and this kind of shaming has been a long-standing practice. Sometimes, the family itself targets your colour and makes you feel like you need 'fix' your skin colour. There are thousands of light-skinned women in this country who are told every single day that they must never get a tan.
Renee Kujur from Bagicha, Chhattisgarh went through the same ridicule when she was growing up. The difference is, she turned it around for herself. Where once she was called "kaali pari" (black fairy) as an indication of her dark skin, she's now using her skin's trait to push her modelling career forward. She IS proving to the world that fairies come in all colours and all types.
It wasn't always an easy ride. Booking jobs was always a struggle, especially in this country. She was always spoken down to and always given "other options" if she was serious about working because clients wouldn't want to hire someone with dark skin. There was even a time when a make-up artist gloated about how she made Renee look good DESPITE her dark skin. Incidents like these were breaking down Renee's spirit blow by blow.
Renee looked to Rihanna for inspiration, or rather, it came to her. A friend told her that she bared an uncanny resemblance to the songstress and for the longest time Renee thought it was JUST because of her colour. But slowly, everyone started saying the same thing. This realisation made it easier for her to get work. No one could deny that Riri was jaw-droppingly gorgeous. With the beauty industry inching towards inclusivity, it was only a matter of time before she started getting appreciated for the way she looked, just as she was.
She genuinely thinks she owes her success as a model to Riri for creating a niche for dusky girls. Without that awareness, it would be very difficult for her to break through the prejudice in the country. Not to mention, it also helped boost her confidence. Every time she thought she was unattractive she thought about this resemblance and told herself that if Rihanna is sexy, so is she!
Of course, work is still a little difficult to come by and she isn't working as much as she would like, but she understands that changing this deep-rooted association of fair skin with beauty will take time to break. But she is definitely happy that she is contributing to the change in her own way. She says she would love to meet the singer one day and thank her in person.
There's a lesson to learn here ladies. Social stigma is always going to be a part of our society's psyche. You're always going to be lacking in some department or the other according to society's unrealistic standards. But just take it in your stride and think of it as a stepping stone to success. Changing how the world thinks will take forever, but changing how you see yourself is easier than you would imagine.