Busting India’s Myths About Skin Color

Amana Fontanella-Khan, Christian Science Monitor, May 8, 2010

Skin color matters in India, a fact made clear by the adjectives used in personal ads seeking spouses. Suitors use keywords such as “dusky,” a euphemism denoting dark skin, or “wheatish,” meaning one is light-skinned, to indicate their complexions.

While being darker-complected has traditionally been considered an impediment to finding a good partner, things may be changing. April’s cover story in Vogue India proclaimed the “Dawn of Dusk” saying, “Every generation has its share of myths. Perhaps it’s time to bust this one. Time to say that we love, and always have loved, the gorgeous color of Indian skin.”

{snip} Sales in skin-lightening creams are up by 17 percent from the previous year, reported marketing firm Nielsen Company late in 2009. One Indian advertising executive, who worked on a skin-whitening campaign and wished to remain anonymous, explained the growth by saying that “being fair is seen as a passport to getting the ideal partner.” These attitudes are also reflected in India’s thriving film industry.

“In Bollywood, there is a premium on being fair. Dusky actresses . . . aren’t considered glamorous,” says filmmaker Jag Mundhra.

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