Discrimination on the basis of colour is still a sad reality in our country. In matrimonial advertisements, people still want a 'fair' bride and the media still doesn't have enough representation of dusky skin-toned women. While the mindset is changing among people, it seems like Bollywood didn't get the memo. Recently, Bhumi Pednekar was criticised for playing the role of a dark-skinned girl in Bala. To make her look the part, tons of foundation (which was ten shades darker than her skin tone) was used. Maybe, cast dusky women for rolls like this? But wait, that's too much to ask from Bollywood.
Now, at an event in Bangalore, Sara Ali Khan said, "If you wanna be tan, just put on some bronzer, and if you wanna be fair, put on some powder."
Did you hear- Fair and Lovely tubes have stopped selling in the market, little girls aren't getting pressurised to use home remedies to lighten their skin and people have stopped saying "gori ladki chahiye." Alas, this isn't true even though it is 2019.
At a conclave called, We the Women with journalist Barkha Dutt, the Simmba actor was asked by a woman in the audience if she would like to go to the beach and get a tan. Sara responded saying that she loves to go to beaches but not "to get tanned."
Okay, she likes beaches. Next?
She further added, "If you want the tan, just put some on some bronzer, and if you wanna be fair, put on some powder."
No, she didn't stop here. She went on to say, "It's not the end of the world, and it shouldn't define you at all."
She further said that perhaps 'spray paint' would help in looking darker and equated it to wearing nail paint. Barkha Dutt questioned her about the standards of Indian beauty and Sara replied saying that she understood that but 'people won't change.' She also spoke about how she preaches that all beauty is the same but people won't see it. And her solution to that is you.
Maybe, a dark-skin girl has been subjected to racism, ridiculed for her skin tone, forced to lighten it with hoards of products. But, the media that has been feeding you a particular narrative or 'ideal beauty', the society that still lives in a colonial hangover putting western standards of beauty over Indian and the multi-million dollar industry that is profiting from this mindset selling skin lightening products, don't need to change. According to Sara, IT IS YOU who needs to.
The Kedarnath star said, "There is a higher probability and success rate for you to attempt to change yourself, than the world, because they are not going to change."
*a round of applause*
Perhaps, Sara needs to know these facts. India still has a booming $450 million fairness cream industry, with Hindustan Unilever’s Fair and Lovely in the lead, owning more than 50% share of the market. According to research, this whitening cream industry is expanding at a rate of almost 18% a year. Thanks to Bollywood stars endorsing them.
Interestingly, xenophobia is almost gone from the western world but in India, white skin is still associated with superiority and financial power. This can be traced all the way back to the 15th century BC when fair skin Aryans established the caste system, which gave them power and made them a part of the aristocracy.
So women spend money buying products, spend hours rubbing lemon and honey on their faces and waste time at salons trying to look pretty according to society standards. Songs with lyrics like 'Haseena gori gori, churaye dil mera chori chori', 'saanwali si ek ladki, dhakan jaisi dil ki', 'yeh gore gore gaal' and 'chittiyan kalaiyaan ve' all prove that as a country we're still very obsessed with the notion that fairer the better.
So, for Sara to make an ignorant statement about colourism, it is obviously thanks to her privilege. Yes, actors are after all actors and do not know everything about everything. However, making yourself aware is on you. Bollywood, it is high time you stop putting out ill-informed opinions on a public platform. Because real women get affected and discriminated on a daily basis.
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