Since the British colonised India, there seems to have been a particular perception about power and wealth being associated with lighter skin colour. Several academics have written their thoughts and analysis on this bias but today we take a look through a new perspective as part of our ongoing 'Say no to Colourism' series.
It is empowering to see women recognizing that this distorted perception is far from the truth. One such amazing pioneer of the #NocolourismMovement is Shweta Aggarwal who has generously contributed her thoughts on this topic. She is also publishing her book Black Rose through which she wants to uncover dark ideologies around skin colour and shed some light on what needs to be changed.
She says, “The desire to pen my memoir is born out of guilt. There’s something different about guilt, isn’t there? It doesn’t allow sound sleep. Triggered by the Black Lives Matter movement after the brutal death of George Floyd, I realized that by wishing to be fairer, I wasn't just succumbing to colourism, I was validating colourism. And consequently, white supremacy. This validation, coming from someone who has experienced decades of bullying for their dark skin tone, is the worst kind. One that comes from a hypocrite."
"In essence, I want to come clean. Come out of the ‘colourism closet’. Another important goal is to help people understand the impact of colourism on one’s self-confidence as it is often trivialised in the South Asian diaspora.”
It is inspiring to hear that women are realizing their worth and acting towards it. It is surely the beginning of a movement which will have an important role in shaping up thoughts of upcoming generations.
To attest to this fact, she further adds, “Born dark-skinned to very fair parents, I was very distastefully made aware of my colour at the age of six. And from then on, the remarks were relentless.
Therefore, the colourism-complex, penetrated deeper than I had ever imagined. I am now 43 and have only just started to embrace my colour, the memoir serving as a cathartic healer. Prior to this, I carried the complex with me for decades – that I was not beautiful enough simply because of my colour. The feeling of inadequacy despite having everything else in your life, leaves you festering like a sore. Thanks to the omnipresent notion in India that fair is beautiful, millions, who are anything other than fair, are made to feel this way on a daily basis.
I feel strongly about colourism because it is not just my fight. The more I learn about its widespread reach, the more I realise its prevalence in practically the entire non-white world. Also, over time, colourism has narrowed the definition of beauty significantly. Real beauty, though, lies in inclusion and diverse representation.”
We at Beaumark cannot agree more. Majority of Indian households have predominantly held on to this notion of fair skin and knowingly or unknowingly reflected anxiety and stress upon themselves, their children and society at large.
In the 1990s, colourism was extremely rife. Shweta writes,”I personally feel that I had no choice but to accept it. From pregnant aunties around me drinking a glass of milk every day with a pinch of saffron to have a fair baby to the colours I was told not to wear because they don’t compliment my skin, colourism engulfed me.
In addition, my cultural upbringing didn’t permit me to voice my opinion on the matter because talking back to the elders was considered rude and offensive. Therefore, I didn’t deal with it. I succumbed to it. I allowed the comments, took them in, and harboured the complex.
I was repeatedly told by an uncle that I didn’t belong to my parents because I am dark. Once I heard that as a child, I did anything for a sense of belonging except question the ludicrous notion of colourism.”
Lack of exposure and additional pressure of immediate society leads to helplessness. We hope that by building a community that strongly addresses these issues, we can create a world where more people can speak out openly about their repressed feelings, get recognition for what they truly are and feel accepted and loved.
Thank you Shweta for sharing your thoughts with us on this topic, please make sure to visit her instagram page @theblackrose.book. We will be making a part 2 to this interview so please subscribe to our email list to be notified.