Let’s face it, Indians prefer fair skin over dark skin; Malaysian Indians are not an exception. This is true especially for Indian girls. Mothers of available bachelors always look out for a fair bride. In Tamil matrimony ads, one of the coveted criteria is that the bride should have fair skin. Joora Hansika maari irukanum, segheppa Tamanna maari irukanum. Neengeh yenna kalyanam pannika poringgela illeh Kodambakkam le padam edukka poringgela? I also have seen fair skinned girls reject potential suitors for being dark skinned. So it is not gender bias; it runs much deeper than that.
The dominant skin tone of Indians borders on dark and brown – many girls bleach their skin to appear fairer because of this fetish we Indians have. Karuppu than enukku pudiche kalaru doesn’t refer to skin colour. Tamil movies further entrench this mindset that only fair is beautiful. Most actresses in Tamil movies are fair skinned and not Tamil. While that is a veracity, another veracity is that actors who are dark skinned are deemed handsome. Superstar Rajinikanth for example. Avareh kude videle. In the movie Sivaji, Rajini had a lorry of Fair & Lovely cream smeared on him to lighten his skin colour. Most of us laughed the scene off in cursory but if looked into deeply, it speaks on how wrong our fundamental ethos are.
Preparation for having fair skin begins in the womb itself. And, if ultrasound scan reveals the gender of the fetus as female, that’s it. The expecting mother would be given tips on what to eat so that her baby girl will be born fair, among them, swigging down liters of saffron infused milk. To think that will intercept genes borders on delusional. As the girl grows, endless tips would be given for her to appear more beautiful, more fairer rather – don’t wear dark colours, you will look darker, don’t stay out in the sun, use sunscreen, use this whitening cream, use kasthoori manjal, santhanam, arache venthiyam, sorakka, poosanika, yellam akka. Valkai eh veruthu poyirum….
I am a fan of the Sun TV program, Kutty Chutties (the Tamil version of Kids Say the Darndest Things) and in several episodes, the kids who took part in the show repeatedly showed a thinking pattern that imparts only fair is beautiful. Now, this is disturbing, to say the least.
We can whiten our skin by any means, fairness beauty products, bleaching, facial and whatnot but is there any cream to whiten dark hearts? Ippo neengeh room potu yosingeh.