Mirror, Mirror On The Wall, Who Is The Fairest Of Us All?


snow white

Much has been said about the subcontinent’s archaic obsession with the “goray gaal” (fair skin). And while many amongst us will opine our disapprobation, there will be quite a few of the same lot who will flock to the air-conditioned stores (or non air-conditioned ) to try out another latest addition to the numerous miracle creams that are the self-acclaimed magic ticket to getting the Prince Charming who drives a Mercedes.

In this day and age, it is a highly Quixotic notion to “ooh and aah” over white skin and frown with distaste at a brown or even slightly wheatish complexion. In fact, it has always been a Quixotic notion. After all, how can the colour of a person’s skin define their roles as prospective husbands and wives and daughters-in-law and sons-in-law? Compatibility, personality and character, have been told to go play hide-and-seek. D’ Accord?

Celebrities and socially prominent personalities should think twice before endorsing a concept that is both morally and ethically unacceptable and segregates, or even ostracises a large section of our ‘honourable’ society. Same goes for all the companies out there manufacturing and marketing ‘’whitening’’ soaps and creams. It is high time that such notions be emasculated, and the concept of beauty redefined. High time indeed.

The apple never falls far from the tree. If today we epitomize fair skin and be completely superficial, then we must brace ourselves to see the future generations following the same path. Like many other dilemmas, this one too, will burgeon, and we will be the proud culprits feeding it instead of gouging it.

The fault, indubitability, lies at our doorstep.

Since childhood, children are taught that telling lies is ‘bad’. Yet, nobody refrains from telling the child to tell a certain Naeem Sahab at the door that ‘’Abu ghar pe nahin hain’’ [Father is not at home], while Mr Father is enjoying a nice cup of steaming, hot tea while watching the latest national drama at our local news channels. We, as individuals and as a nation, do not practice what we preach. We preach righteousness and morality, and pretend to stand on a pedestal that will portray us as paragons of virtue and holiness. Fair words butter no parsnips. Equality is a concept that few amongst us will preach to the younger generations; be it social or gender equality. Money and looks will be prioritized till eternity and this vicious cycle of demeaning our fellow, less ‘fortunate’ beings will continue, until the wise amongst us look beyond and recognize the repercussions of this social and moral pandemic, and realize that turning a blind eye has never been a laudable panacea .

With a growing number of celebrities, Nandita Das , for example, endorsing the concept of being confident and comfortable in their ‘dark’ skin , we must accept the fact that ‘panache’ and ‘dark skin’ can go hand in hand.

Personality is a distinguishing feature. Not fair looks. And personality here parameters a vocal self-confidence, the belief that one has the weapons to combat adversity , manners that will shame the Queen; and an eloquence that will silence the best of critics.

To conceive a healthy society, that flags equality as an ever popular existence, we must suck the life out of such parochial concepts.

“Your life is determined not so much by what life brings to you but as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you but as by the way your mind looks at what happens”- Khalil Jibran.

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35 thoughts on “Mirror, Mirror On The Wall, Who Is The Fairest Of Us All?

  1. Arfa I am so so glad that you wrote this piece. My daughter is darker skinned and whenever I say anything about a sunburn people always tend to assume I am worried about her tanning! I love her complexion and frankly wish I was more like her (my pasty olive-y yellow desperately needs bronzer). Fair and lovely hmph.

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  2. I would love to be slightly tanned, I dream about tanning all day to get that colour :p… It’s silly what society feeds us; the perfect weight, height, colour!! It can seriously drain someone out. We must be happy with ourselves and our bodies. Confidence is what needs to be taught, with confidence one can conquer all and our happiness will then reflect others around us making the world a better place (“,) x

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  3. Love that you wrote this. This is a sub-continent problem. I remember it being a huge thing while I was growing up in India. Almost all my friends used Fair and Lovely or some other brand like that, and since I have really dark skin, they would tell me to use it too. My mom was against it, but I threw tantrums, and eventually she got fed up and bought me a tube. To this day, I regret having used it because it spoilt my once lovely skin. I now have white patches all over my face, and in the ten or more years since I used that detestable creme, they haven’t gone yet.

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    1. Now that sure is sad!
      & yes, these fairness creams are making millions out of all this. It is sad how we just cannot live comfortably in our own skins. The colour of our skin and how we look is now defining our relationships. Not always…there sure are exceptions, thankfully. But that seems to be the general trend since ages.

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      1. Do forgive my mistake, my Dear Arfa! I have lived near Lucknow, and near those areas, so know ‘just a little of Urdu,’ the language of Poets! Accha, yaha batao, tumhari umr kitni hai? Tumhe Beti kahun ya Poti? Pyaar.

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  4. What a bizarre world we live it. I grew up in the UK, where everyone wears swimwear when it hits 20C and will do anything humanly possible to become brown (or even a ghastly pink/red) under the sun. Millions and millions are spent every year on vacations to the sun and on insurance travel, sunbeds and suncreams. As I say, all just to look as brown as possible.

    So is it all just a case of ‘the grass is always greenery’, and nothing to do with colour; just our constant craving to be like someone else, never comfortable with our own self.

    After emigrating it became so plainly obvious. Türks on the whole avoid the sun, whereas the western tourists lap up every last second of it… Me?, well I’m a hybrid I guess. I am quite an home when it’s 45C and equally happy to sit on my balcony mid-winter when the sun is out.

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    1. True. The grass is, indeed, greener on the other side. But again, we feel the need to live up to the society’s expectations and standards of defines beauty.
      Thank you for dropping by 🙂

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  5. Celebrity can’t think ethically; it is money that drives endorsements not values. We say it like- Ghoda ghaas se dosti karega to khayega kya (If horse befriends grass, what will he eat?). But you shared your thoughts in beautiful words, I really liked it!

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    1. I’m glad you do! & well, you have a point there. But then we’ve made money our God. It’s time to realize that money isn’t everything. Once we do that, half the social evils that prevail in society will be eradicated. But again, ‘once we do that’…
      & thanks for sharing your thoughts 🙂

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      1. Millions and millions of pages of history would tell you that money had been the God of human kind since the time this concept was thrown for consideration. This why various people have taken up different responsibilities as their own…some only focus on earning money, some think of giving a share of it to those who need it more and there are still others who give it all up having realised that materialism is just over-hyped. But then it remains subjective to individual realisation.

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  6. I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your blog.
    It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to
    come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create your theme?

    Excellent work!

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