It is embarrassing to admit, but until fairly recently I have never really thought about the situation that dark indian women are living. I had read about some aspects of Indian Feminism (it is coming strong!) but I never properly wondered about the suffocating situation for dark-skinned women provoked by that sweet spot where racism meets misogynism.
Since we met Chandana Hiram, through her petition, we have been reading about it a bit more (if you don't have a lot of time but want an efficient eye-opener, read this article, seriously, read it).
We loved interviewingChandana and are delighted to have her as a guest writer sharing her story with us!
Hi! I’m a brown girl, living in a brown country. Sounds easy right? well, I am afraid it’s really not. Not when the people in your country are obsessed with fair-skin to the point of expecting to turn the darker ones into white.
I often wonder if this has something to do with casteism or colonisation, and I realise it’s a mix of both. Ideas of dark-skin being inferior have existed and thrived for centuries in this country.
Right from not getting represented in main-stream media, not getting equal job opportunities, not being considered desirable enough to get married, and being openly demeaned by fairness cream commercials, my people have seen it all.
My name is Chandana Hiran. I’m 23 years old and I live in Mumbai. I recently started a petition for Fair & Lovely (Now Glow & Lovely) to change its narrative and be more inclusive. The petition has received over 30,000 signatures now from people all over the country.
Fair & lovely used to be one of the biggest companies selling fairness creams in India. And the narrative that they were presenting was demeaning & extra-ordinarily cruel. They equated success with being fair-skinned. The perpetuated the idea that darkness equals failure which of course makes you unconfident and shy. Of course, applying that cream will clear your skin and that would change your personality and your life in 3 weeks. Whiter skin would be the entrance to a new life! Center of attention at parties, being showered with opportunities and having every man falling in love with you.
The brand ended up selling insecurities to millions of women in India. And I was one of them. I've felt insecure and underconfident all my life due to my skin-colour. I know how it feels to believe that you do not deserve the good things in life just because you don’t look a certain way and I didn’t want any other young girl to feel the way I have. And hence I started this campaign.
We witnessed a huge step taken by Unilever when they decided to drop the term ‘fair’ from its cream. However, that is only the first step they have taken towards being a more inclusive and diverse brand.
I am really passionate about this topic and have opened an Instagram page (@that_desi_feminist) to engage people into conversations around body positivity & gender equality. The fight for being a more inclusive society has just begun, and I hope we all play our part in it by speaking up!
It's not enough to be non-racist. We must be anti-racist, and speak on behalf of those who cant!