Friday night I was live on Canada’s CBC discussing the role Bollywood plays in establishing beauty standards for South Asian women, telling us that lighter skin makes us beautiful, a myth which feeds the ridiculous marketing of whitening creams in the region. Although this is a topic I have covered in the past, nothing has changed. Are South Asians still suffering from a colonial complex?
Watch me debate live and tell me, what do you think?
I experienced the same type of pressure, just the opposite. I have very fair skin and I am constantly told that I would be much prettier if I were to get a tan. Then, when I lived in South Korea, everybody complimented my fair skin and thought I should try to use whitening creams to make it better. Now, when someone tells me to get a tan, I say, “I am beautiful in Asia!”
That’s very interesting, April, thanks for sharing! It’s funny to experience first-hand what one culture finds beautiful that another may not. The good news is we are always beautiful somewhere in the world, right? 😉 Thanks for reading/watching the post!
As a Bangladeshi-born woman raised in the US and Canada, I always felt I had somehow ‘escaped’ the ‘lighter is better’ trap — that is, until I went to Dhaka for a family vacation and was immediately bombarded with depressing comments on how dark I’d become, especially since I was particularly fair as a small child. I was 13 at the time. More than a decade later, I can still vividly recall how ashamed I’d felt – as if somehow playing soccer in the sun was something terrible I’d done that ‘ruined’ me! It was always such a strange set of opposing perspectives: my white friends complimented me on my natural tan, my black friends said I was lucky I wasn’t “really dark” and the South Asian community held onto this fair ideal. I’m lucky in the sense that my parents and immediate family paid little attention to this typically South Asian obsession and I was never brought up to focus on it, but it’s sad that these mindsets do still exist. Hopefully, as you mentioned in your CBC spot, this relatively recent discourse will grow to become something people can more easily discuss and understand.
Thanks so much for sharing; I’m excited to have discovered your blog and look forward to more from you!
Thanks so much for your comment, and for sharing your story. I grew up in Dhaka, too and as a little girl I loved swimming in the sun. Needless to say I was always scolded for making my skin “moila.” It’s all even more ridiculous when you analyze our stupid obsession with fair skin under a feminist lens, in this day and age. Thanks for watching! Glad you enjoy my blog, means a lot to me 🙂
“Are South Asians still suffering from a colonial complex?”
You do realize the preference for lighter skin was there before the Europeans came.
Actually, I don’t. Tell us about it the South Asian preference prior to colonization. I would be very interested.