Posted on May 31, 2019

Miss India Pageant Comes Under Fire for Having ‘No Dark Skin’ Beauty Queens Among the ‘Identically’ Pale Finalists

Stephanie Linning, Daily Mail, May 30, 2019

The Miss India beauty pageant has faced criticism over a lack of diversity in its finalists.

The organisation came under fire after a newspaper published headshots of all 30 women competing to take home the crown.

Twitter user LeBrown James shared a photo of the collage, asking: ‘What’s wrong with this picture?’

The question sparked dozens of responses from social media users who pointed out that all the women have ‘fair skin’, with one saying simply: ‘This is so white!’

Colourism in India pre-dates colonialism to the 1600s, when social hierarchy was based on a caste system and manual labourers often had darker from spending days outside working. This made it more desirable to have lighter skin.

The issue was compounded during the colonial era and eventually became so ingrained that in the 1970s India’s first ‘fairness’ cream, Fair and Lovely, was launched.

The market is expected to be worth 50bn rupees ($716m; £566m) by 2023.

The Miss India finalists won regional competitions across the country and will now take part in the national finals next month.

Ahead of the event, the Times of India dedicated an entire page of the newspaper to featuring short profiles of each of the women, accompanied by headshots.

They were published under the headline: ‘Who will be crowned Miss India this year?’

James was among the social media users struck by the apparent similarities in the contestants’ appearance.

Followers were quick to agree. One posted: ‘Same beauty filter has been used on everyone leaving no scope for diversity and inclusiveness.’

Another commented: ‘They’re all fair toned women of colour, look almost the same and represent the idea of “ideal beauty” in our country.’

A third pointed out: ‘Because competition is about beauty and this is what they consider as beautiful…’

The winner of Miss India will go on to represent India at the Miss World pageant in Thailand in December.

Miss India has been a career launchpad for a number of past contestants, including Priyanka Chopra, who came runner-up and won Miss World in 2000, and Bollywood superstar Aishwarya Rai, who came runner-up and won Miss World in 1994.

The rules have since changed so the winner of Miss India represents the country in Miss World.

Another pageant, Femina Miss India 2019, raised some questions this week, after the 30 state winners were unveiled — all boasting similarly light skin.