Fair is Lovely : The Anti-Darkness in India

One manifestation of white supremacy is the use of whiteness as the standard of beauty. When whiteness (pale skin) is considered superior, white people are considered more attractive by definition and ifs the appearance of people of other races deviates from that standard, they are considered ugly. Lisa Wade Ph.D., “When whiteness is the standard of beauty” article on societypages.org

When the white European male sets the standards the world follows, this doesn’t make it true but creates an illusion. To speak of a reality where light skin, light eyes, and tall slender bodies are presented as the benchmarks of European dogma a spectacle of breathtaking provincialism – “The universal standard of beauty“ It universalizes the concept of whiteness to epitomize beauty around the world. It suggests, perversely, and seriously, dictates what is beautiful and what is not.

In the land of Vivid Colors and Exquisite Architecture, where the 5th largest film industry in the world “Bollywood” thrives with its wholesome view on sexuality, there lies just beneath the surface a dilemma of “Colorism” and “Shadeism” which are problematic concepts where light skin is more favorable and darker skin is inherently less attractive. This concept or belief has turned the skin lightening epidemic through the advertising campaign of “Fair is Lovely” into a billion dollar industry. Where did this begin? Through colonization by Great Britain in the 17th century, where dark-skinned Indians were conditioned to believe that having light skin was a prized possession. India’s skin lightening industry is estimated to be nearly a billion dollar industry. Fairness is a booming industry. Around 75% of woman and only 25% of men say that they use fairness creams to lighten their skin.  Light skin was also associated with status, attractiveness, and desirability. The “Unfair and Lovely” campaign is debunking the myths of Shadeism and promotes unity among the darker women and girls the world over, they express their personal challenges with confronting the Isms: Colorism and Shadeism. Way to Go ladies! #unfairandlovely

Meet the beautiful Trina Moitra, who is more than a pretty face, she possesses a kind and loving character. She is a senior branding consultant and the Head of Marketing at Convert.com. She loves delving into different cultures and is passionate about beauty without boundaries or inhibitions.

Q: On the color chart in India, what are you considered? Light or Dark?

Trina: I am considered somewhere between fair and very fair.

Q. How has your skin color affected your life? In your career, dating, or marriage if that applies.

Trina: I can’t think of an instance where my skin color has helped me in my career. But being “presentable” overall definitely has. Even in online settings where people don’t see my face to face, is well put together has won me a distinctive edge. In the marriage market though complexion still rules for the majority of people. If you’re “fair” and have clear skin, that’s literally half the battle won. Especially for women.

Q: Do you think that “Colorism” started with the caste system in India?

Trina: Not really. I think colorism is the persistent residue of colonial dominance in India. You won’t see too many of the Millennials subscribing to this mindset of “fairer is better.” They are open and accepting of all skin tones and complexions. But Generation X in the country is still besotted with white. I know it sounds racist, but in my personal opinion, that is one of the main reasons why Indians have continued to revere the white skin. As the old colonial wounds heal from the psyche of the nation, this obsession too shall pass. As a darker skinned race, we will always find being fair fascinating just because it is so different. But it will be a matter of curiosity or aesthetic appeal and not a yardstick to measure potential or worthiness with.

Q: How are the darker women treated in India?

Trina: As I discussed, the Millennials are more into how to clear someone’s skin is and not the tone of the skin or the complexion. But in the marriage market, very dark-skinned women may have a harder time finding someone suitable.

Q: Why do you think there is a skin lightening epidemic across the world?

Trina: I think this epidemic is very much restricted to the East. As far as I know, most Africans who still reside in the country respect their ebony skin. They even dye their palms a pitch black during weddings and the darker a lass, the more beautiful she is. I find this fantastic and very much, worth emulating. Skin lightening is generally done because of two reasons: – To be more beautiful. I get this because most of the glitz and glamour in the world can still be traced back to the West. Power is continuously associated with countries like the US and the standard of beauty there is primarily porcelain skin, blonde hair, and a svelte figure. People who are mostly in the public eye want to conform to this standard. – To be more worthy. This is more so a trait in races that have been oppressed by Caucasians. The taking on of the “white” skin is, in a way being equal to the status of those who have always exerted control over the lives of the darker skinned individuals. This might actually be an unconscious motivation.

Q: How much annually is spent in your country on skin lightening?

Trina: The skin lightening market in India is projected to touch US$31.2 billion by 2024.

Q: How old were you when you discovered that the lightness of your skin would play a critical part in your success in life?

Trina: Around 16 or 17, I realized that I had a subtle advantage, but I didn’t really feel that my peers who weren’t light skinned were disadvantaged.

Q: Are there any Bollywood actresses that speak against colorism? If so, what do they say about it?

Trina: The two divas who come to mind are Priyanka Chopra and Nandita Das. While Priyanka Chopra speaks holistically about being enough and treasuring one’s authentic self, Nandita Das is more vocal about the trend of skin lightening. She has appeared in several “Stay Unfair” campaigns that are a rebuttal to the “Fair & Lovely” advertisements advocating skin lightening products.

Q: Do you think parents are responsible for teaching their children that they are special no matter their skin color? What did your mother teach you? What would you teach your future daughter?

Trina: ABSOLUTELY. Parents need to take some time away from grilling their children about studies and achievements and instead focus on ensuring they know that they are enough – just the way they are. The works of experts like Marisa Peer show that a sense of belonging, a positive frame of mind and unshakable faith in oneself drive success in life. Not how many hours a child studies.

Photo Credit: Ranjan Bhattacharyya Photography

Q: What advice would you give to darker Indian girls about skin color issues?

Trina: Do you really crib about the fact that there are purple flowers? A flower – regardless of its hue – is treasured because of its scent and its uplifting qualities. And a purple flower blooms big and bold, even though a white rose may be right beside it. There are some critical lessons in these analogies. A. We are unique, just because we are “we.” And we need to add to who we are with our qualities, not necessarily our appearance. B. Just because someone else is fair or light skinned shouldn’t detract from your glory. They have a different life path. Maybe their complexion suits them as yours will surely serve your unique challenges and gifts. C. If you want to lighten your skin, do it because you genuinely love the concept of “being fair.” Not because you feel you have to conform to a pseudo-standard of beauty. If it brings you joy (and doesn’t hurt your health) it is fair game – pun intended.

Q: What do you think about the fair and lovely campaign in India?

Trina: Won’t lie. I fell for it in my college years. Even though I am already light skinned. The Fair and Lovely campaigns don’t really fight above board. They link complexion to having a more comfortable life. Which is valid to some extent but who wants to keep pandering that destructive notion. If they really limited their portrayal to being light skinned for the sake of being light-skinned, not many people would pay attention! Good marketing, lousy message.

Q: What is the answer to “Colorism” in India?

Trina: The only answer is to make sure everyone – not just girls – understands that they are enough. Healthy self-esteem is essential. The next step would be to encourage positive body brands like Dove, which are working to reinforce the statement that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Life’s too short to live with cultural baggage. Dump it already.

59 thoughts on “Fair is Lovely : The Anti-Darkness in India”

  1. Why doesn't the indian actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan speak on these issues since she is allegedly so famous around the world. Instead in staying in her arrogance she needs to speak out for her people.I thank this beautiful lady for speaking out on behalf of her people.


    1. Aish is not beautiful to me, it is true that looks are really in the eye of the beholder. Look at her face closely – She looks like an eagle with big scary eyes. Don’t get me started on her flat ass- no figure having self. And people say that is beauty. The world is vast and truly beautiful inhabit this world. Aish is not one of them.

      She will never speak out that is a pipe dream. She is too stuck on herself and in return, she will lose her soul in the end.

      Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is NOT a GOD! Wake up!!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The mentality of the people in India:1. Baby born fair = WOW 2. Baby born dark = UglyIndians are Racist within their own race, xenophobia is also seen in Marathis vs North Indians, and North Easterners vs North India.


  3. India's racism started after the Aryan (White) Invasion. Essentially we Tamils use to be considered a black race. I must admit that we all are suffering from internalized racism from our parents.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ash is an overrated narcissist! She will never do anything for anyone that doesn't benefit her. Her soul is dark I hope she wakes up before its too late.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I lived in India for 12 years. The bollywood actress Aishwarya Bachchan doesn't care about others as long as she is being hyped up in the beauty world she could care less. She thrives off of fake attention, not knowing that inner beauty is what really counts. Personally, I don't find her beautiful she looks like a hawk in flight. She is rich and with all the money she has no one in India should be starving. She is going to die and find herself in hades if she doesn't repent of her sins. What profits a man to gain the whole world and then loose his soul.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This woman ‘Aishwarya Rai’ is not beautiful to me, she has a mediocre beauty, vastly overrated in beauty. I don’t know why there is an ongoing discussion about her.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Halle Berry, Beyonce, Vanessa Williams, Lupita, Naomi Campbell etc. look better than these indian actresses to me. I do like Trina’s look she seems to have a good head on her shoulders.


  8. I like this interview but I still think that Indians hide a lot of the truth and still have a pride in a country to hates dark women.
    This lady seems to be honest in what she says, she is lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan not a good example of true Indian Beauty!

    Yes, she pretends that she is so unaware of her beauty but I read somewhere when that she was in tears backstage after Sushmita sen won and she lost. she came running after crowing to the green room and was in tears. this was in one of the contestants’ interviews who participated along with her. this can happen only when you are too confident about your looks. Aishwarya always projects that she was so unaware of her beauty and everything just happened around her. The day she stops saying that, she will be well received and most hate comments will go down. She has got to realize that no one reaches to her position without meticulous calculative moves. And nothing wrong with it. What is wrong is to project and project hard the opposite picture. Hope she gets over that someday, cause this is not India of the 80s. We are in 2020 and people can see through the facade. Aishwarya is overrated for sure!!! I admit her dance skills are good but not what she gets hearing from people like most beautiful of the universe… it is bull. There are thousands and millions of more beautiful women majority are not in show business and no one knows.


    1. Aishwarya is comfortable in her light skin – light-eyed privilege as long as the world is looking at her in terms of beauty she doesn’t care that is obvious for shedding light on the colorism issues of India. I think she is lovely, however, there are women more beautiful like celebrities like Halle Berry, Angelina Jolie and the rest.


  10. What’s this “fair” skin stuff? Or “white” skin stuff? Both terms are completely incorrect and are used to indoctrinate the masses with LIES!!

    The word “fair” is synonymous with balance, honest, upright, just.
    The word “white”-like the color, symbolically represents goodness, purity, positivity, cleanliness.

    The fact that these words are used, instead of “pale” skin, or “pasty” skin. Or even “pinkish skin”, which is what these mutations actually are. It is proof that pale skin mutations are, and have been tricking the world into “seeing them” as all the good things that the words “fair” and “white” REPRESENT. It’s a form of propaganda, and mental conditioning to perpetuate these lies.

    The Original Humans are brown skin melanin, dominant people. Not pinkish, not pale, not pasty melanin deficient mutants.

    Fair in the biblical days meant – “good looking” not light skin.


  11. The people of India have to change its outlook. Colorism is real and it will take the Bollywood heroes and heroines to make a difference.


  12. India needs to stop worshipping Pagan gods and worship the one true and living God – Yahawah, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob before it is too late. Repent!


  13. Trina Moitra is beautiful. Haifa where did you find her? Brilliant article, sharing it on my social media. I am emailing you now Haifa.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Sorry but I really don’t find Indian woman attractive, their large hawklike noses and bulbous eyes. Aishwarya Rai, Priyanka Chopra, etc. all look a bit regular to me. Trina is cute she looks a bit more settled than the rest.


  15. Maybe we should start protesting for the dark Indians as they do for the blacks in America. If black people only knew that they are CHOSEN by God, they are his people and the only people that really matter.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Is her voice being heard in India? Is Trina helping her people? Bringing awareness of colorism or is she just basking in her light skin?
    Trina is pretty but I would love to hear her voice in India.


  17. The most beautiful Indian women are the ones you don’t see with dark skin and big eyes. I don’t know why there is so much emphasis on light and dark in India, whereas the population is poor. They really need to take care of their own in terms of resources. The rest is superficial and it won’t matter at the end of the days. Great article I know it is bringing awareness to this problem.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s