India has always been very much obsessed with fair skin tone. The numerous number of fairness products advertisement, the books discriminating a dusky woman as ugly and a fair skin woman as beautiful, made it clear days ago.

More or less we all know a friend who didn’t get the chance to play the lead role in the school drama because of his/her skin tone. Even though their screen presence was much appreciable.

But with changing time people are now coming out of this weird ideology. “Dark is beautiful” has at least got understood by a lot of them. But still, numerous people are still there obsessing about skin tone and thinking how lucky they would have become if they could have qualified a few lighter tones of the shade card.

But the people who always love to think out of the box, made us realize how much wrong we’ve been through all this time.

It was 2017 when 18-year-old Aranya Johar’s “Brown Girl’s Guide to Beauty”, a video of strong lyrical poem went viral and shook the social media. On the very first day of its release, the video received 1.5 million views around the globe.

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From Tagore’s “Krishnakali” to today’s Hema Gopinath Sah’s “Kali” there have been written numerous heartwarming poetry, on how a person with dark skin tone gets treated in India. But it’s still a question whether the poems have been able to change a single mind.

Recently Mumbai based blogger-mother Hema Gopinath Sah beautifully described all the flaws in our ideology about the obsession with fair skin color, in her poem called “Kali”.

She wrote:

“Kali
It was my mother’s fault that she birthed
Me on the banks of Kaveri
For try, as they did they could not wash the black alluvial soil off my skin

Kali
Little piece of coal my mother’s brother calls me
As he pretends he can’t spot me in the darkened birthing chamber
It sounds very cute when said in Tamil
An endearment.

Kali
This one just got baked a little longer in the oven laughs my father when
My mother guiltily presents him with yet another daughter
One whose skin only a paddy farmer could love.

Kali
I am six when I am made to understand that
I who was proudly showing off my 99% in Maths was less than my classmate,
At least I’m fairer than you she says,
Sadly looking down at her own 73% marks

Kali
Raahat Ali hisses the epithet in class 3, that I would get familiar with through the years
Because I refuse to let him hold my hand

Kali
The shame I feel looking at my white face black neck makeup at my Arangetram
The shame
Is for the secret pleasure that even though I look like a clown, I am fair
For two hours

Kali
I burn my skin to a crisp with hydrogen peroxide, congratulations.
I now possess blonde sideburns to contrast my black skin.

Kali
The proud mother of a prospective groom, who insisted on a fair skinned bride
For her son who was ‘white as milk’
Amma told her off in no uncertain terms that her daughter
Is dark as decoction and only when you mix the two.
Do you get rich aromatic
Coffee

Kali
The boy who said your skin shines
Like burnished copper.
I let him go, I thought he was lying.
Boris Becker declared that the only time
He noticed that his girlfriend was black
Was when he saw how beautiful her skin
Looked against his white sheets

Kali
Touching my husband’s peachy creamy skin when we make love
Wondering how he could find me desirable

Kali
Lakme has three shades white, off-white and peach
The joy I feel when I purchase my first compact
At Heera Panna smugglers market
At age 26
It is the mythical, never seen before MAC compact,
In the pre- Manmohan Singh era
And it is the exact shade of my skin,
NC45
They got me. They knew I existed.
I had a number.
I still have that compact. After 18 years.
But the shop assistant wants me to buy NC 44 Because it makes me look fairer.

Kali
I’m pushing my light-skinned daughter on the swings
Someone asks me where her mother is
I bristle that I’m the mother
The lady giggles apologetically,
Usually, only maids are dark skinned no,
No offense meant Ji

Kali
Stay indoors, don’t swim, don’t tan, it’s OK
That your Vit D levels drop to 4.75
Depression, stress fractures are a reasonable price for fairer skin
Melanin is a disease, there are treatments for it

Kali
Stick to gold jewelry, silver makes you darker
Leave the diamonds to the porcelain Punjabis
Don’t wear white, don’t wear black,
don’t wear blue, don’t wear pink,
Don’t wear light colors, don’t wear dark
Don’t wear pastels, don’t wear warm colors, don’t wear cold either

Kali
She who stands naked
Wearing heads and blood
Suffering no one
Fangs are bared as are the talons
Fulsome, fearsome
Black of skin
Revered worshipped adored

Kali.

“I once saw a TV interview of a little girl no more than four. She was asked why another little girl was her best friend, so the girl replied because she is fair. The audience laughed delightedly in understanding. How do we ever change this, lift this prejudice, which is entrenched in our DNA? I want to claim the word ‘Fair’ back. I want it to only mean the opposite of unfair. It should only stand for what it was intended- justice, equality, equitability,” Hema told in an interview with the Indian Express.

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