Back when I was in middle school skin color had very little to do with my life. Since we were all kids our understanding was very much limited to what our parents taught us or what we observed around us.
There was one incident that I still remember. It was how colourism unveiled itself in my realm.
I had a pouch with cartoon characters on it. For those of you who don’t know about this cartoon called ‘Bratz’, here’s a photo:
The names of the characters were Sasha, Yasmin, Jade and Chloe (left to right).
So me and three other friends would count till ten and each of us would pick one of the girls.
Well, I had never watched the cartoon before so the only place where I had seen these characters was on my pink pouch.
The odd thing was that no one ever picked Sasha. Ever. Only I did because on my pouch she had red hair. At that time I was quite fascinated by her red hair so her complexion was the last thing on my mind.
Now, I studied in a private school in Saudi Arabia where there were people from different countries. The four of us who played the game were Indian and one was from Pakistan. I’m mentioning the background here so as to imply the fact that Desi people do have a certain obsession with having a lighter skin tone.
One day my friend laughed at me for choosing Sasha every time. I was confused, I asked her what was so funny. She told me that she was black and ugly. I was upset because she called my choice black and ugly.
Growing in a society that favors lighter skin color above everything else can be ugly. Once my friend told me that my name does not suit me. There was another girl in my class called ‘Hira’ & her name means diamond. My friend said that that should be my name. I didn’t say anything when she told me that but I found it strange because what did my color have to do with my name.
Later on when I was 15 I talked to my childhood friend who would always chose Chloe over Sasha because she was dark. We had a long talk about it. She’s from Andhra Pradesh, India. She told me that her mother always favored lighter skin even though her daughter’s were brown. Make-up for them was just talcum powder smudged all over their face to make the complexion light. But later on she came to realise that it was stupid to be obsessed with color. She was happy in her skin which is great.
People eventually do learn to be happy In their own skin. In the end that’s the right thing. Never shut the doors of self-acceptance upon your face because of the hue you were born with.
People always thought that I’m haughty headed and proud just because I didn’t talk much. Some of them even assumed that it had something to do with my skin color. Later on when they got to know me they were taken aback. To be honest there has not been a single person who has not told me that they had preconceived notions about my nature. I used to be shy as a kid to initiate a conversation with people so they mistook it for pride.
I like how people have always been honest with me. Some even told me that they thought I’d only be friends with fair people. I have never in my whole life judged people based on their color. Ever. And that’s what I’m proud of, not my color.
I agree that people with dark complexion can have insecurities because of their upbringing in an Indian society but please don’t make that your limitation. I’ve seen people consider themselves inferior because of their skin color. There was a girl in my school who had some sort of fair skin treatment and she returned from India with a whole lot of pimples on her face. What’s even more worse is that some indian teachers even favor students with a lighter skin tone, as my friend once told me.
Life doesn’t only happen to people with fair skin and skinny bodies. It doesn’t discriminate like humans do.
Sasha will always be my favorite and I don’t have to change my choice because others laugh at me. In the same way you don’t have to be uncomfortable in your skin because others make you feel so.