Lever is dropping the word ‘fair’ from its fastest moving fairness cream brand in the Indian market, ‘Fair & lovely.’ And I have a confession to make: it is something i can’t do without either. My tube of Fair & lovely is really like my foundation/moisturizer that I wear whenever I go out (prized at less than Rs.100/-) That is my make-up maximum. Otherwise at home, I use natural Ayurvedic moisturizers or skin nourishing lotions. The foreign brands that I have experimented with are Body Shop and Loreal (not in India) but i have slowly come out of these. None of these are fairness creams. Meant only for skin maintenance/repairs. Basic minimum. Why I use Fair & lovely is that, it is non-greasy and gives a smooth finishing comparable to or even better than any expensive foreign brand foundation that one may use (which may cost over 1 k or 2k). Mine is cheap and best and non-allergic. I hate Lever company but I like this product of theirs. Vanity is not healthy but wanting to look crisp must be okay. I appreciate Kangana’s stand and adore her uprightness and non-materialistic attitude. Nandita is another classic black beauty. Tamil cinema has had dusky women like Saritha, Suhasini, Sujatha for leading ladies. The fairest ones from Madras like Vaijayanthimala, Hema Malini, Rekha, Jaya Prada and Sri Devi went to Bollywood rejected by Tamil filmdom (except for Sri Devi and Vaiji)! That must tell you something…
Never owned a mascara or foundation in my life, never will. It is good to know I have like minded friends from school who share similar values. Have never owned a make-up set. May be lipsticks and eye pencils in the loose and face compacts. That completes beauty routine (for parties only) for some of us.
Many of us go for facials. In my case, I started with visiting beauty salons very late in my life – after my 36th year. I go for mostly gold facials once or twice an year that are turmeric based. In India, we get herbal/Ayurvedic facials which is our greatest advantage. These can bring a glow to our face without making us appear fairer. The de-tan is natural. I don’t think removing the tan is by itself bad. It’s like removing the top soil grime, nothing more. It can’t make you permanently fairer. Maximum a shade lighter, that is all. But I learn, there are now expensive toxic methods to completely change/replace your skin, if you so wish. Yes, you can buy somewhat permanent fairness these days (that may last upto years). I can name a few Bollywood heroines and Tamil Nadu women politicians who have supposedly gone for such skin treatments. This is the reason some salons have cosmetic dermatologists in their payroll.
While condemning the clamour for fairness, we have to know the difference: it is nothing wrong in wanting to look good and presentable. Neat and nice. Most of us middle-class and middle-age women are for like reparation and skin maintenance only. Our age demands it.
Even for hair, so far I have not resorted to chemical dyes. Only the natural henna. Most of my friends are like me. India again has the home turf advantage here. We have shampoos that are non-soap based. Completely natural. (I am limiting myself to skin colour in this post).
More than that, any accentuation to fairness is vain and distasteful. I don’t even attempt it because I believe in myself first. I don’t want to look paper white like South East Asians or Arabs or Europeans or Americans because I am not them. I am Indian, and I am a Madarasi, a Tamil, and I am proudly dusky. Someone married me for what I was, what I am. And that someone is a responsible man, not just any tom-dick-harry. Like in my case, for most girls, skin colour plays no significant role in our life as far as India is concerned. I graduated, got a decent job, married – all in my chocolaty brown skin. Briefly for a while, my skin colour was refered to as ‘wheatish’ in my Kundali (horoscope) around the time of my marriage. Never before or after that.
So that is why I was pretty much offended that the Fair & Lovely commercials showed as if we women got anything and everything done capitalizing on our looks and gender. Which is so much untrue. It is an insult to our very womanhood, this downplaying of our hardly won battles and success stories. Such a belittling way to portray women. The ads need a tweak first. Their grand lies do more harm than flatter.
The south is pretty comfortable in dusky tone. Let north Indians stop calling us Kalia. The north easterners are called ‘chinkis’ by north Indians as well (for their resemblance to chinese).
But fair or dusky, I do have the habit of rubbing a lemon slice in my face regularly to de-tan naturally. We use haldi (turmeric meant for grooming purpose; this haldi is bit different from the haldi we use in our kitchen) and chandan (sandal paste) and coconut oil for skin toning and improvement down south.
I believe strongly that we all have to look and feel beautiful inside out. Insides first. Physical workouts are the best way to beautiful self. That by itself takes care of all our beauty concerns. Physical stamina and fitness will automatically radiate to our skin and face. Similarly if we are happy than brooding, that reflects in our face as well. This kind of radiance one can spot readily in newly married women, pregnant ladies etc., for instance.
Next comes our food habits. Vegetarian food habits delay the ageing process. Infuse lots of fresh greens, vegetables and fruits and wholegrains, pulses and nuts in your everyday diet and see the difference. While this may have nothing to do with your skin colour, you can notice a telltale welcome change in your skin tone. After all that, there is the gene factor.
When the foundation deep inside is firmly rooted, the superstructure will be good, in my opinion.
I am always for a healthy sheen and skin. I can’t believe some women spend obscene sums on chemical beauty and make-up products. Mostly these are other Asian women from Middle East and Far East Asia who indulge so much in frivolous superficial beauty. You can never catch an Indian woman spending such indecent sums on vanity – except for in some rare cases of north Indian women. Kerala women like it best to appear with coconut oil dripping from their faces hahaha! Tamil Nadu slightly better than that! But I love and respect the fact that they couldn’t care less!
I guess Indian women invest more in precious gems, gold, diamonds and in silks when it comes to clothes. And real branded accessories that are worthy of the price. I have seen such an elitist shopping interest in our NRI women abroad. Our tastes are eclectic.
Times may be changing even for us Indian women but certain things ingrained in us by our grandmas hardly leave us so easily. We are still a very traditional community adhering to our own set customs and values.
As someone who never used a chemical soap for the first ten to twelve years of her life (besan for skin and shikakhai for hair), I can vouch for the healthy effects of our natural beautifying ingredients right from our kitchen shelves. These are tips passed over generations. I still follow the ritual of soaking in coconut oil head to foot twice or thrice a week, at least for an hour before shower. Rain or shine. I believe this is the best natural anti-ageing treatment that we can give ourselves within the four walls of our home. And it costs very minimum. Only the pure cold pressed unbranded coconut oil from our nearby farms (in India).
Ayurveda has natural nourishing beauty products that can improve skin tone and de-tan us without the harmful side-effects of imported chemical brands. To my knowledge, many Indian women and beauty salons in India make good use of these.
I figure that, women spend more on vanity when they lack the sense of security and self-confidence. Also when they may have forgotten their roots and tradition and are westernized. Indian women are well placed generally and may still be culturally oriented. Well accomplished careerwise, well qualified and settled early in life. My view is that, therefore our women don’t need to look to hooking men or retaining men or even dating men! By 25-26 we are mothers already, taken. We start our lives pretty soon. Delayed marriages are happening of late in India, even so our women are extremely smart. Very few accord extraordinary importance to grooming, at least down south. When there is solid substance, why do you need any other crutch. In south India, being coffee brown is natural. No big deal. I come from the land that gave the world the Sundar Pitchai of Google, Satya Nadella of Microsoft and Indira Nooyi of World Pepsico. What role our Indian skin colour played in the global success of our sons and daughters?
India ladies: beauty with brains. Both Mars Mission rocket scientists as well as successive Miss World/Miss Universe title winners. With the brown skin.
Prejudices exist everywhere. In Arab countries, we cannot even pronounce our Hindu Gods’ names in public. Cannot openly pray/worship. Is n’t this far worse than racism. What ethical rights Islamic nations have in even condemning racism in any part of the world. Pot calling the kettle black.
Before talking so much about ‘Black lives matter’ – let every nation on earth turn secular and democratic first. Black Lives Matter or Islamophobia merit discussion in some societies only when they reciprocate 100% equally and justly whatever freedom they expect to enjoy in open secular democratic countries.
Within India, as I said, the distinction is there between the north and south. In fact, i have faced racism more in my own country whenever I have come across north Indians, over foreigners abroad. Of course, this kind of racist remarks have been mostly harmless. Either that, or we down south are thick-skinned.
Having said that, I like to feel beautiful inside out and have always considered myself beautiful! I don’t need certification from anyone on that! Beauty also lies in the eyes of the beholder. To groom well effortlessly is my mantra. I mean, to groom decent. In India, i feel no need to use even perfumes that block our sweat glands! India is airy lol! Even when it comes to clothing, i prefer desi yarns and weaves and natural vegetable dyes. Ethnic motifs, ethnics clothes. A sari is the most beautiful and sexiest fashion statement in the world! If women are gifts, then the sari is the best gift wrap indeed! I feel most beautiful when I drape my sari.
BE ORIGINAL, BE BEAUTIFUL, WEAR YOUR ATTITUDE IN YOUR SLEEVE. BE JUST YOU. Most importantly , do not become cheap imitation of the west. Music or clothes or food or culture, uphold your native heritage. Stand out. Let your individuality do the talking. You just don’t become ‘them.’
Feminism is oversold and so-much cliched. I am NOT a feminist. I am me. I don’t consider it wrong to want to look good. As I said, any obsession with this beauty concept is though unhealthy. Fixation on these distractions will waylay us on our journey to reach our true goals in life.
I remember my granny saying, ‘Karuppe azhagu, kandhale ruchi’ which translates into ‘black is the most beautiful and the (browned) crust (in the pan) is always the tastiest (in food).’
Actually, i don’t even feel the need to justify or defend my brown skin that I am too very comfy in.