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Anjali Rajoria

anjali Nandita Das, the talented Indian actress was recently involved in the campaign “Dark is Beautiful”. The idea has been endorsed by many celebrities across the nation. Despite being a vehement critic of the social standards of ‘Beauty’, I do not extend my support to this campaign. My logic is simple. Let me explain:

If a population belonging to the same race consists of a monolithic entity (undifferentiated in terms of social standards), it is difficult to create oppressive hierarchies. But if it consists of diverse groups, various parameters (both natural and artificially created ones) need to be propped up to divide people into groups. These groups, besides developing strong in-group solidarity, display our-group contempt and hatred.

Beauty (like skin color) is one such parameter. The facade of beauty has divided women into 2 broad categories – Beautiful and Ugly (to put it very bluntly.) This division actually acts as a hindrance against the collective effort of women to challenge patriarchy by pitting them against one another. Female Beauty, as projected by the profit hungry corporate media, has therefore been reduced to a euphemism for the objectification and over-sexualization of female bodies.

In fact, the entire notion of Beauty revolves around female bodies. The societal value of a woman is attached to this marketable facade. This despicable form of structural oppression portrays the sexuality of women in terms of beauty or femininity or a feature that commands respect. This devious tactic of portraying prejudice against women while maintaining niceties is just another attempt at maintaining patriarchal hegemony.

By giving more value to this marketized commodity of ‘Beauty’, we create a sense of insecurity in the women belonging to the out-group. Instead of grouping together to fight this paternalistic notion of Beauty, individual women of the out-group try to fit into the in-group to increase their individual value. The social structure that legitimizes oppression (in this case beauty) remains firm and unchallenged.

The ‘Dark is Beautiful’ campaign endorsed by celebrities is a manifestation of the same tendency by the leading ladies of Bollywood and models who actually have a wheatish and not dark (as in black) complexion. But these women have refused to question the reprehensible portrayal of women as sex objects in Bollywood. As Chomsky says, “In Capitalism, everything is acceptable at right levels of profit.”

The women who stand to get harmed most by this capitalist propaganda are those who belong to the lowest strata of social hierarchy i.e. the Dalit women. Faced with multiple levels of intersecting oppressions (caste, class, gender and religion), Dalit women, already weighed down with insecurity as they are treated as misfits by both upper castes and men of their own community are further burdened by the given standards of beauty and complexion.

Nandita-Das 3

In the ‘Dark is Beautiful’ campaign take the example of Nandita Das, its ‘star campaigner.’ Nandita had performed the role of a Dalit gang rape victim in her movie ‘Bawandar’ (based on the real life story of our hero Bhanwari Devi, the Saathin). It is said that Nandita made Bhanwari her Rakhi sister while the film was being shot. However, the film was released without being shown to Bhanwari herself first. This is a gross violation of the rights of a rape survivor. And despite being promised that she would be provided all kinds of support, she was virtually abandoned by Das and her entire team. The film, however, went on to win various national and international awards, but Bhanwari’s ordeal continues till today. She is still fighting for justice.

This is not the first time that a Dalit gang rape survivor has been exploited by Bollywood. The movie ‘Bandit Queen’, based on the real life story of Phoolan Devi, was also released without being shown to her first. The explicit sexual images displayed in the movie also served the purpose of titillating the masses in the garb of portraying the trials and tribulations of a woman who suffered caste violence throughout her life.

So let us accept the hard reality. Indian cinema is very far from being able to represent caste realities and is truly casteist in its exploitation of Dalit and Adivasi women’s histories, which are always made to fit a caste Hindu grand narrative. It is also not able to give chances to Dalit Adivasi women to express their talent. We all are already aware of the fate that PK Rosy suffered.

It’s just about time that we stopped looking up to these Bollywood actresses for our liberation. Such fake feminist claims can only stockpile facts & figures of Dalit women to show how much women suffer. But they would do nothing in their personal or professional capacity to reduce their agony. Freedom is a privilege extended, unless demanded for one and all. We will use our own voices and be heard on our own.

In fact, it must be noted here that the ‘Dark is beautiful’ campaign is neither a positive response to the ‘Black is Beautiful’ campaign of the 1960’s which was started off by the South African revolutionary Steve Biko and spread to the entire Black diaspora nor is it an indigenous mass movement. Skin color discrimination is a colossal problem in India, which is most violently experienced by a large majority of Indian men and women. This form of discrimination combines with other oppressive regimes of caste, class and gender to routinely deny rightful opportunities to vast number of citizens.

afro couple flag black is beautiful1

Whereas the Black is Beautiful movement emerged from the masses and even today stands as the most profound challenge to European aesthetics. In contrast, the Dark is Beautiful campaign in India is emerging from highly successful upper caste women who are protesting the loss of few more lucrative mainstream opportunities due to their relatively darker skin tones. These successful actresses, models and activists hardly pose any serious challenge to the Brahmanical aesthetics but are in fact enhancers of the caste hindu aesthetics and power structures.

What we really need here is an understanding and appreciation of our differences without attaching any tag to them. Every life form is beautiful in its own way. Every human deserves respect. Skin color (whether white or dark or red or blue or whatever) does not and should not matter at all. Diversity only adds spice to life. Plurality is a wonderful gift of nature that needs to be celebrated instead of being used as a tool to divide and oppress people.



Anjali Rajoria is a medical graduate based in New Delhi and is a civil services aspirant.


54 Responses to Why I don’t support the ‘Dark is Beautiful’ campaign

  1. Ashley Tellis says:

    A very confused and, in the end, meaningless critique. An individual actress campaigning against racism is not the same as the Hindi film industry or any Indian film industry doing so. This is critique for the sake of critique with not much thinking. I don’t see how Das’ caste matters here.

    For the record, Bhanwari Devi is not Dalit but OBC.

    • someone says:

      The notion that ‘fair is beautiful’ and ‘dark is ugly’ is social conditioning that stems from various sources. Bollywood directors, actresses and actors that make the movies, and the audience that pays for the ticket and buys into the reel fantasy all come from the same society that teaches them a perception toward life and, especially, women. Women and men are taught growing up that if they’re white, thin, submitting, and “dutiful”, life will be fulfilling and as it ought to be. This is what I believe to be the cause of all this mess. I remember growing up watching Bollywood films where a woman always got raped. It’s preached as a way of life. And most ‘victims’ in these films are dark-skinned. Somewhere we have to see it’s all connected. Criticizing Nandita Das for speaking up about the issue of ‘dark vs. white’ is pointless. At least, she isn’t the one endorsing fairness creams and furthering the brainwashing.

    • Anup says:

      Just a note for you: Kumhar falls into dalit category.

  2. shubho says:

    I think you are forcing a point. You need to see this campaign as a work in progress.

  3. Vineeth Jose says:

    Nanditha is campaigning against the corporates that subtly injects the idea that being dark has so and so drawbacks.

    What this author is talking about is how people hate each other on the basis of ethnicity/caste.

    and Nanditha shouldnt head such a campaign since dalits are ignored by main stream cinema?

    • Anita says:

      Nandita (and the campaign) is not campaigning against corporates, and that is actually the big problem that I have. We need to take on the corporates that are using this negative value in our system and profiting from it while at the same time, strengthening the negative value.

  4. Jithesh says:

    Well written

  5. Anon says:

    So what you’re basically saying is, you don’t support the campaign because the persons behind it are Brahmins. You are casteist.

    • VK says:

      You are woefuly ignorant of what casteism is. There is no such thing as reverse casteism. Brahmins are the most privileged caste; they are the oppressors, not the victims.

  6. Shubhrastha says:

    Social mobilization and contribution to activism is not always about staying with the victim for every court hearing. There are ways to go about support. Nandita’s contribution to Bhanwari’s case is significant in the sense that you and i talk about the case while it had the potential to get lost among other files.

    Nowhere has Nandita Das chosen cinema that cast women in a stereotypical light.

    Bandit queen did not titillate the audience. Whosoever saw that movie had goosebumps watching that scene in the movie.

    And ‘dark is beautifu’ is not inspired by ‘Black is Beautiful’ campaign. The former is not a campaign by a bunch of social activists with a political purpose. It is merely an expression of discomfort. The latter was discomfort packaged in rabid political colour.

    The author needs to see beyond her world of biases and staunch ideological positioning.

    • Shibangi Das says:

      Points well-made, and I needn’t bother myself with writing down with what I had to say, since you’ve said it all @Shubhrastha.

      And anyone who thinks Bandit Queen titillated audiences (no matter how depraved the viewer), needs to get a reality check. The film was meant to disgust. It went beyond that.

      The author lost the plot somewhere in the first line itself. The article reads like a forced piece as an agenda against the actor.

    • ravichandra says:

      Well said.the problem is: dese days “being nice” is considered as flirting…!!

  7. Lucy Fer says:

    It would have been better if the author could address two things. One is regarding a possible, occasional disconnect between skin colour and caste. This means one might be dark skinned and brahmin/uppercaste. For example, some Tamil or malayali brahmins are dark skinned. They will be able to access their privilege in Tamilnadu or Kerala without much difficulty, but say, in Delhi, their caste position might not be immediately visible. Yet, over time, through many other means, they access their privilege. Second is that through all this dark is beautiful campaign, dark skin is being exoticised- as the desirable other.
    The article is confusing because it talks about a collective effort of women against patriarchy and about the struggle of dalit women in the same breath. It doesn’t say how this unity is achieved especially when even dark skin can’t be a common ground.
    I think the author needs to push her arguments towards a more political critique of the campaign.

    • Avistin says:

      I just want to address one of your points here – ” Second is that through all this dark is beautiful campaign, dark skin is being exoticised- as the desirable other.”

      That is hardly the case as a majority of Indians are comparitively dark skinned. For something to be ‘exoticised’ one of the base criteria is that it should be rare, as in the case of dark skinned (non-black looking) women in say, Hollywood, who are invariably called ‘exotic’ by at least some sections of the media.

      Moreover, the reason this campaign was started is to eradicte the discrimination against dark skin. When you say it is exoticising dark skin, you are actually saying that they are trying to generate a positive bias for said dark skin and that is absolutely not the case.

  8. Lily says:

    The superficiality of the campaign has bothered me too for a while. Societies have always had standards of beauty, which is being shaped more so now than ever before by the media. So often the West scoffs at Asia for their obsession with fairness while absolutely forgetting they uphold various naturally impossible ideals too, namely, bronzed skin, certain shape of nose, chin, bust, bottom, body type, ad infinitum. This campaign seems to be self-consciously apologetic about our own standards of beauty. What is unjustified is the dehumanization of the female body altogether, where even ‘the dark beautiful’ is not accessible to all. Beauty cannot be usurped by a certain colour or physical trait. To suggest that our obsession with colour is the problem is to deviate from the root of the problem, which lies in the definition of beauty in exclusivity.

    • Avistin says:

      What exactly is superficial about this campaign? And how can you call it ‘apologetic about our own standards of beauty’?

      Firstly, it is not ‘our’ standard of beauty. The fashion industry in all western societies favour white models over other ethnicities. The west had (and arguably, still is) created and implemented the ‘white is beautiful’ idea, if you will. It is not ‘our’ standard of beauty.

      Anyway, the point is, this preference for white/lighter skin should not be anyone’s standard of beauty. And you call a campaign that’s trying to achieve that as being ‘apologetic’?! Apologetic for what? the discrimination that some of the campaigners face?(*sarcasm*)

      The issues of gender equality and social hierarchies are not doubt involved in this quagmire, but to denounce any attempt that does not address ALL the issues involved will simply result in there being no attempts at all. You could have said that the campaign is not accessable to all iff it had specifically targeted certain sections of socitey. That is not the case.

      “To suggest that our obsession with colour is the problem is to deviate from the root of the problem, which lies in the definition of beauty in exclusivity.”
      Obsession with colour is THE problem being addressed by the campaign. So what exactly is your point? what problem have you undrestood (or, are trying to divert attention to) as the target of this campaign?

  9. Kinshuk Kumar says:

    I’ve always found both the caste and complexion – based biases extremely irritating. Which is why, I support any step taken by anyone to protest either of these biases separately or together.

    Btw, why shouldn’t an upper caste dark – complexioned woman be allowed to stand up and protest the treatment meted out to those who are darker in complexion?

    Should the right to protest be limited to those from the lower castes only?

    What such critiques end up doing intentionally or unintentionally, is that they isolate supporters of separate causes by pitting one set of people with a particular kind of issue against those with a separate set of people trying to fight a different problem when in fact, the better step would be to lend solidarity to each other’s cause.

  10. Sheetal says:

    Whether anybody support the campaign or not, it is true that mankind (living in both west and east) has always favored the fair sex, no matter what. So stop saying crap things and supporting or protesting them and accept the truth.

  11. Soumyadeep Mukherjee says:

    This is the problem….. we won’t do anything, and when someone takes the initiative we will leave no stone unturned to vilify a noble campaign! Dark is beautiful is a wonderful attempt that deserves everyone’s support.

  12. Indrajit says:

    Rubbish. Unsubstantiated claims that appear to be allegations. Would have been much more relevant if she had checked with Nandita Das and included her response on whether she left Bhanwari Devi in the lurch. And the conclusions are far too stretched.

  13. faz says:

    Nandita is not dark, she is much fairer than normal definition of darkness.

  14. Arya Mitra says:

    Well said, Anjali Rajoria. I completely agree with you that this movement is by and large a media hype to cater us hot headlines and has no connection to mass(a few self proclaimed feminist seeking to build a public face, are the ones who started the campaign) and will dry of when the channels and newspapers will fell it to be stale.

  15. 1. Too much pessimism.
    2. Relating unrelated things like colour and cast.
    3. Ignorance of actual capitalistic exploitation of skin color. Remember fairness cream ads. (If you want to be successful you have to be fair. I dont care anythinh except skin.)
    There is a need to completely redesign this article for distorted backgrounds as well as less logical arguments.
    Dr Haroon Ashraf, Associate Faculty. A L S.

  16. Nandita Das is campaigning against the marketing strategies adopted by corporate which portrays fair-skinned women as more successful! Talking about women of higher strata getting involved, first realize the main objective of this campaign. It is to remove the absurd obsession with fair-skin. The reach of this message won’t be deep if the women of lower-strata starts this… Again this is just the beginning…

  17. neelima vl says:

    Nandita Ji appreciable, U R a lady with guts, courageous and sensible. u r called real herione of this century. plz if needed my help give me a call ill be there.s people like u needed for this country. iwant to campaign for the shorter people coz along with the dark complexion or caste if women is shorter they are denied everywhere in games, walking the ramp, marriages etc.,

  18. Raghu says:

    Any good work done is always opposed by a group of pessimistic people who always think about the cons. It is sad that people find pleasure in pin pointing mistakes and hunting for ways to bring down something that is doing good. With due respect I’m saying this, the author who has written this write up is utterly confused and has not understood what the campaign is all about.

    If something goes totally wrong you can definitely write articles like these, but when there is something good happening, do learn to think positively and appreciate it.

    I really wonder from where the “caste system” came into picture here. I was lost reading this article!! Ma’am you have used amazing vocabulary but the content simply doesn’t make sense. I would suggest you to re-think on whatever you have written.

    It won’t do any good for the society if we have many who think as you are thinking (bringing the caste system from no where was a bad attempt). I’m sorry to write this. No offense meant please. Hoping that you take this positively.

  19. raheem says:

    please appreciate the little that is being done and initiate what is not based on your critique… as nothing is holistic & thus everything can be critiqued…. think of evolution or leave the whole system and try to start a revolution

  20. pankajakshi says:

    The article is making a simple issue sound critical.

  21. nikhil simha says:

    Bringing Das’s caste into the argument is non sensical, this entire blog is based on das’s ‘success’, caste and class. You are completely missing the point of ‘Dark is beautiful’ movement. It very simple, it is just what the title says, it is not who promotes it , or it is not the class/success of who promotes it.

    I think this blog is wrong on many levels.
    Morally: You cannot shun a propaganda based ‘class’ of people who promote it. (You can do it based on the Ideal’s of the propaganda)
    Statistically: Most successful movements are started by people who are already influential(maybe from a lower class/caste).

  22. Vijaya says:

    The author says…..’We will use our own voices and be heard on our own’….suggesting that Nandita’s cause is different from that of others/or that Nandita does not have the right to a voice. In the same breath the author ends her piece with ‘What we really need here is an understanding and appreciation of our differences without attaching any tag to them’. It seems to me that the author is the one attaching tags, so I find her argument confusing. I am not sure if she is upset at headlining Nandita, Tanishta etc because they are conventionally beautiful or because they are upper class/Brahmin. Would it be OK for example if we found a Dalit, successful, dark woman to headline the campaign- or would it have to be a Dalit, dark, poor, village woman to really make her comfortable? Is the author saying there are no fair Dalit women, or that Dalits are not colour conscious? See my point about tagging? Isn’t it enough that someone has the guts to take on the collusion between market forces and pop culture czars, without being accused of intentionally sidelining other caste/class groups? Its a slightly stretched argument to say the least.

  23. Anon says:

    sad to see a woman write such a pessimistic article… I think it’s a great campaign.. You seem to have a very dark outlook on life.. You are very probably a generally unhappy and unpleasant person in life..

  24. Rahi says:

    I had not given any thought to this campaign, till I read Anjali’s article. I found it incisive and thought-provoking. She make a valid point when she says, “By giving more value to this marketized commodity of ‘Beauty’, we create a sense of insecurity in the women belonging to the out-group. Instead of grouping together to fight this paternalistic notion of Beauty, individual women of the out-group try to fit into the in-group to increase their individual value. The social structure that legitimizes oppression (in this case beauty) remains firm and unchallenged.” I disagree with the view that this campaign challenges market/corporate forces. The market will adapt to any standard or construct of ‘beauty’ prevalent in the day. So for eg. if a tanned complexion becomes sexy in the West, they will give you tanning creams. What Anjali problematises for this campaign is the very association of ‘beauty’ with being a woman. If you question this, that’s when you truly challenge the beauty market. Therefore, the ‘Dark is Beautiful’ campaign is largely conformist, even though one assumes that it challenges the whitening cream market. Secondly, there is a very strong association of caste with skin colour, despite the instances cited here of some sections of lower castes being fair and vice versa. All these are aspects that need to be looked at and questioned. With her critical reading of the campaign, Anjali has merely raised these aspects. Finally, we tend to respond to criticisms saying ‘oh but this is a small start / or it’s a start somewhere’ and so on. Just because something seems like a good start does not mean we cannot raise issues related to it by way of criticism. I think Anjali’s piece has widened the scope of ‘Dark is Beautiful’ campaign, in thinking at least, if not in action.

  25. Sanjukta says:

    I want to know what is the caste of the author of this piece. If she thinks the campaign has no credibility because it is supported by upper caste women, which I think is her imagination and has no basis at all, this article too shouldn’t have any credibility unless the author is a dalit. So is she?

    Nandita Das’s campaign has got nothing to do with what Bollywood is doing to the cause of racism. Its her individual voice against corporate selling fairness and condemning darkness to the young Indian women, how is that related to films and Bollywood. So damn stupid. Looks like this write has a personal thing against Nandita Das and therefore this rant.

    • Naman says:

      You certainly have no idea about how to respond or argue rationally. Taking this to the personal level without effectively providing any critique of the content of the article is what I think is “stupid” and profoundly lazy on your part.

      P.S. No, I’m a Hindu, not a dalit. Just in case you were wondering.

  26. The blog post is a sheer waste of time and to say that Bandit Queen had titillating scenes speaks a lot about the authors personal taste and sensitivity.

  27. gouri patwardhan says:

    I agree mostly with Rahi’s comment. I think the argument against beauty doesn’t come forcefully in the article. But despite an apparent lack of clarity its not difficult to understand the point she is making about Nandita Das, a prominent upper caste face of film industry and social activism leading such a campaign and the inherent problems with it.So its shocking that so many people have responded negatively to her criticism of the campaign.

  28. Uma Khedekar says:

    The writer is confused though she has made certain valid points;female body as a marketable commodity, the relating of beauty and skin colour etc., But the “Dark is Beautiful” campaign is targeting the notion of “only fair is beautiful” and where is the connection with caste. People of all castes can be fair or dark. And it’s strange that she is protesting that a good movement has been started by the upper class/caste. She is concentrating more on the persons who start a campaign rather than the campaign itself. Who has prevented anyone from starting campaign like this ?

    Quoting her at one point:
    ” These successful actresses, models and activists hardly pose any serious challenge to the Brahmanical aesthetics but are in fact enhancers of the caste hindu aesthetics and power structures.”

    The ” Dark is Beautiful ” campaign is not even trying to challenge Brahminical aesthetics and has focused on colour of the skin. What has colour to do with caste ?

  29. Shilpika says:

    I was expecting an interesting article when I came accross the title. But it was disappointing. As a writer/blogger myself I try to always be clear and unperplexed, so as to not overdo the write-up. Here, irrelevant aspects have been linked up with no co-ordination. The author seems to be talking in two ways here and has left everyone confused! I don’t know why do such articles get published online in the first place. Utter waste of time.

  30. Firoz says:

    The main problem is in the definition of beauty. This is not confined to women even superstar Rajnikant has to hide his black skin by make up. The acceptance of white people as superior in Indian subcontinent has a historical reason. Originally India was a country of black/brown skinned people..later as different relatively white skinned groups (Aryan race/Mughal/British) entered in India as a ruler where black/brown skinned people were the surrendered community…and started to accept all these fair community as superior not only in beauty but in all aspects( because one is ruling class later is ruled class)…Though Hollywood has already started to portray black women as heroine in movie even in opposite to James Bond but our Bollywood has been always demonizing dark skin women.

  31. admin says:

    “I would like to illustrate how ‘dark skin’ and ‘caste’ are linked more organically than what the campaign acknowledges, and how ‘societal attitudes and media messages’ cannot be so easily isolated as to what reinforces the bias towards lighter skin. The South Indian state of Kerala was recently rocked by the ‘Solar Scam‘ in Kerala where the culprits were upper caste, notably two upper caste women. Although, this was not the first, and will not be the last time that women have forayed into criminal territory, the anxieties surrounding this were triggered more by the fact that those implicated were upper caste women, not the ‘kind of women’ whom you would have expected.”

  32. Anjana says:

    Maybe the ‘Dark Is Beautiful’ campaign does not seek to go much deeper into the casteist reasons and/or repercussions of bias of women based on skin colour and years of oppression. That does not make it any less valuable. Let us look at it for what it is. Das being a notable actress, can bring about awareness among the young and vibrant section of Indian youth, both men and women. It is like a drop in the ocean, I agree. India’s problems are far more complex and deeply-rooted to be solved by any one such campaign. If it even stops one person from falling into the ‘fair and lovely’ commercial trap, it still counts.
    The campaign does not claim to be a political-social one, rather one where ordinary men and women can speak up and feel confident about who they are.
    As for Dalit/SC women, there are many successful ones out there. But a huge number are still oppressed and suffering. I think there are far more pressing matters for them like lack of nutrition and access to education and healthcare. This campaign does not address that. Does it make it any less valuable? It makes you think. It has brought about a discussion. I think it is doing it’s job.
    Bollywood and the fashion industry has contributed much to the fair and lovely saga. But really, has cinema shaped peoples’ minds or is it the other way around? Are they not merely giving back to the people what they really want? Cinema is just a medium, it is not activism, just like journalism. The duty to act, protest and protect the downtrodden lies with each and every citizen.

  33. Jyotsna says:

    Though the issue is relavant, i found the writer’s arugements to be weak and incoherent. There is a severe lack of clarity while drawing caste linkages with beauty. Also, found it quite problematic as the counter arguents doesnt seem to be in line with the issue.

  34. Shahid Azad says:

    While being skeptical of the said campaign in eliminating the mass obsession for fair colour, the initiative of Ms. Nanditha Das is commendable. Any feature (here colour) that is just the result of a genetic lottery should not be used as a sign of superiority or a tool of exploitation. End of the day, values and character should win the deal but may take a long time!

  35. Dileep says:

    some people will find caste, race or religion in whatever they see, they can’t help it

    stay calm and ignore these people

  36. […] അതിനാല്‍ അഞ്ജലി രജോറിയ സവരിയില്‍ (Why I don’t support the ‘Dark is Beautiful’ campaign Savari) ഈ പ്രചാരണത്തെ താന്‍ […]

  37. pg says:

    Stereotyping at its best! Because Nandita Das belongs is an actress, hence she can only be campaigning for media hype!!! I would beg to differ.
    1) In India, there are not any extensive definitions of wheatish, more wheatish, darkish etc. They are either “gore” or “saanwle”.
    2) I was unable to connect the caste and color dots with regards to Dark is beautiful campaign.
    3)While the issues of “women being treated as sex objects in cinema” and “caste oppression” are equally relevant, a campaign focusing on one of the issues cannot be discounted because it is addressing just one and not all of the issues.
    4) Featuring a leading dark skinned actress in the campaign helps in increasing its acceptability. Because of the attention, respect and recognition that she commands being a public figure, the dark skinned (the ousted group) can connect with it without a sense of hesitationn. And in general it helps in increasing awareness about the campaign.

  38. Anurag says:

    Very well written article.u should be a writer rather than a doctor.i ve seen very beautiful Dalit girls in matrimonial sites who look more indian than the film actresses who look more like from Middle East or European.i wish at least some directors think differently and cast beautiful girls from Indian communities which are not diluted with foreign genes.

  39. VK says:

    Thank you for this article. While I think the critique could have been conducted in a better way, it really opened my eyes to the problems of this movement. I am particularly horrified at the treatment of Bhanwari Devi (which I don’t think is Nandita Das’s fault, but she is complicit as all upper-caste people are). I agree with you that the rape scenes used in most of the Indian film industries have a purpose of titillation, moralising and threat to the women watching. Some of the scenes are even played for comic purposes, and they are so commonplace that people do react with laughter rather than horror. Anyway, well said. And sorry for all the comments you get from ignorant people about “reverse casteism”.

  40. Sujata says:

    I had high hopes when i started reading your article. I am pursuing the issue of skin colour in india as part of my phd work in Jamia. I was looking to explore the dynamics of caste and beauty, especially among dalit women. Your article however is rather pointless, with no solid reasoning at all. If at all this dark is beautiful campaign is carried out by certahigh caste women in India, are you sure dalit women havenot participated in this campaign? If i had to ask you, how do dark dalit women feel more stigmatised, what would be your answer?

  41. billi says:

    I don’t get it! What has caste got to do with skin color?
    Anyone of any caste can belong to any shade of fair or dark.

    BTW this fair skinned obsession is seen even in South East Asia and the Far East.
    Everyone out there wants a porcelain white complexion.

    Personally I feel beauty comes in 50 shades of grey!LOL

    That is its really hard to stereotype our mind into believing that only fair is beautiful or only dark is beautiful.

    External beauty is not merely a skin tone or undertone..Height,Body shape,Blemish free skin,Healthy hair,Lovely teeth,balanced features,sex appeal and a strong personality all add to the equation called external beauty.

    Skin color plays quite a minor role actually if one lacks all the above said requirements.

    For example Vidya Balan is fairer than Deepika Padukone but anyone with a functioning visual cortex would know would know who is more beautiful..cos Deepika is a whole package.

    Now coming to the preference to fairer skin..its not only in India..its in fact all around the world.

    Even in very dark races the lighter shades of dark is considered the “beauty”.

    May be in the past a lighter shade of skin was equated with affluence becos women from affluent families like royals and so on did not have to toil in the sun and stayed in doors most of the time and were not tanned by the sun as much hence appeared lighter.

    So the visible sign of affluence was a relatively lighter skin.

    May be that is how the preference for a lighter shade of skin came about.

    So no big deal anyway.

    Be happy with which ever shade of skin we have..when we die..all decompose the same.

  42. Umber says:

    I want to appreciate your perspective, but you call out women who see this issue only from their perspective while talking as if only Hindu women are relevant. Muslims and Christians, rich and poor, are all affected. Your commentary is prejudicial, too.

  43. Anurag Dabholkar says:

    The author of this article seems to mix up issues of colour and caste system. The author seems to have been confused the campaign dark is beautiful. There are so many actresses who being dark are one of the best actresses. The campaign dark is beautiful focuses saying just coz one is fair does not mean you are beautiful. It says stop making relating beauty to color of a person. Even those who are dark complexioned are beautiful. Majority may not know but central govt once had made a specific ban on adverts relating fairness to beauty.

    Now coming to author and her views. She I feel has tried to co-relate caste and color which are way different things. Caste has nothing to do with colour. I feel it’s a badly written with a confused mind to camouflage the campaign with a castism theory.

  44. Aman says:

    I don’t see how the dark is beautiful campaign is related to sexual violence against lower caste women.
    I am not crazy for this beauty campaign because it is once again all about emphasizing about women’s external appearance whereas women’s safety, pay, education, inner self worth( that is not just related to beauty but to a whole spectrum of qualities embedded in being a strong, contributing person) are more important. These take priority over physical appearance because focusing so much on a woman’s appearance, even in a positive way, once again reinforces this idea of little girls being seen and not heard.

  45. […] the acquired malala yousafzais, shermeen chinois, and…, well. Some more is here:, and many important things are pointed out below. Fauzia […]

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