FAIR IS FOUL
AND FOUL IS FAIR
The Washington Post recently ran a piece called, "In India's huge marketplace, fair skin sells."
It discusses how Eastern European models with dark hair and light skin are being featured in Indian adverts.
"Indians have a longing for that pure, beautiful white skin. It is too deep-rooted in our psyche," said Enakshi Chakraborty, who heads Eskimo India, a modeling agency that brings East European models here. "Advertisers for international as well as Indian brands call me and say, 'We are looking for a gori [Hindi for white] model with dark hair.' Some ask, 'Do you have white girls who are Indian-looking?' They want white girls who suit the Indian palate."
Indians' color fixation is also evident in classified newspaper ads and on Web sites that help arrange marriages. The descriptive terms used for skin color run the gamut: "very fair," "fair," "wheat-ish," "wheat-ish-medium," "wheat-ish-dark," "dark" and "very dark."
Family elders here commonly comment on a newborn baby's color, after checking out the gender. One of the best-selling skin creams in India is called Fair & Lovely. A men's version, Fair and Handsome, was launched last year.
"The Indian mind-set prefers light skin. My pictures are routinely Photoshopped to make me look a bit lighter -- a lot lighter, actually," Riya Ray, 23, a dark-skinned Indian model, said with a laugh. "But when I work in Britain and France, my color is praised as exotic. It is a two-way trend: Indian models are going abroad, and foreign models are coming here."
I can't help but think of Raj, from my first trip in India back in 2002.
He made frequent trips between Mysore and Bangalore on his silver Honda Hero Super Special motorcycle, and was seriously thinking about getting a helmet.
To protect your head? I asked.
"No, Cadda. To protect face from sun."
"So I do not become too dark."
Even Desi TJ - who's lived here for eight years - was concerned last month that his skin looked darker after two months in the Subcontinental sun.
Silly man. Doesn't he know that gori girls dig that sh-t?
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