Dark & Lovely
They told me I was not fair enough. And comparatively I was not. But then I was offered a glimmer of hope, as even their own had been born darker like myself, and with time came a more perfect transformation towards a fair and hence better complexion. There was hope for me, and for them with me.
I cringe when I reflect on that scene. That time in my life where aspiring to be fairer and hence more valued meant something to me. Hanging onto something so superficial as the color of my skin as a marker of real estate rankles me. Any talk of skin color and its attached value robs a person of their inherent worth- the one that comes from the inside, out. Anyone who can relate to this, I pray you have overcome any perceived gain from being any color than the one you were given. And to those inadvertently judging another based on their complexion – I promise you, there are few people on earth who have not given thought to what a fairer hue may have automatically granted them – the doors that may have opened or the place at the table that remained elusive, the job, the call back, the date, or any desired opportunity had the color of one’s skin been more favorable. Sadly, no culture, from Africa to India, China or the European and American subcontinents, remain color oblivious. One’s color may well be the window through which another will peer before interviewing the essence of the person behind her skin. Bias is implicit and one that is consciously overcome, daily and with each new interaction. I know this as a darker Indian American woman. My skin color may be sought after here in North America where women tan and bronze to appear darker and more exotic, sexy and appealing. In my native country of India, women are equally avid to apply skin lightening salves and lasers in hopes of landing a better job, or a better marriage prospect. We are seldom happy in the skin we were born it would seem. But I am. I lie under the baking sun to defy the words I had heard throughout my childhood: don’t get darker, no one will marry you. Fair skin is better.
I no longer care. I no longer aspire to resemble my fairer counterparts. I will not be told that fair is beautiful. And I will never be caught preaching that tale to my daughter. The essence of my character will not be overshadowed by the mocha flesh that greets my critics. I will be judged by the merits of my voice and the content of my character. Any other measure of worth will be yours to reconcile, not mine.