Dark Is Beautiful (Karuppin Azhaghu)
Why in America are women prematurely aging due to attempts to be darker where women in India are suffering from death, cancers, liver damage and even permanent disfigurement from skin bleaching?
Why are so many of us in the states spending significant funds on spray tans and bronzers while women on the other side of the globe are fighting for the message to be heard that ‘Dark is beautiful’ and their struggle against the demand of such an unnatural beauty expectation put upon them by their society? It sounds backward yet it’s quite familiar to even you and it’s one thing you’ll see on your face every day. Feel free to assume, I am an average American housewife because I am!
My husband and I, married young. I was 18 and he 20, and about to celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary. He works and I stay home raising our two girls in our small quiet community where our family has a long history of roots. But one thing that sets me apart from my adult peers is finding a common goal of learning and helping others all around. Most people I know are struggling or simply focused on their lives, needs and families. Everyone has them and we love helping others, however I strive to know the world more and people of all ages, cultures, races and religions as a simple goal in life, to spread love and learn more so I can grow to help others.
Soon my prayers were answered with a new friend on Facebook named Arulselvi Arunachalam. I met her through a mutual friend doing mission work in Nepal during the many earthquakes and aftershocks recently. We chatted and she informed me of her cause which opened my eyes to a topic many people feel the need to be further addressed and advocated and that is their message in Women Empowerment in India and of the pressure women feel to lighten their skin but to instead inform women to embrace their darkness and true inner beauty. Initially, the news of skin bleaching was odd to me but I was similarly heart-stricken and felt compelled to dig in more to satisfy my curiosity. I know what you must be thinking. Why would I want to read an American housewife share her opinion? Americans are often portrayed as very opinionated, ignorant or closed-minded. I don’t judge anyone for anything. I became an award winning journalist at the age of 18, married and moved from my parents home to mine and my husband’s first home. Became extremely close with his family as many women do in India with their husband’s family.
In India, many women move from home to their husbands and in-laws homes whereas, here in the states, most people don’t live with their spouse’s parents. Many women and mother in laws would not be in favor. Even one of our most popular movies is called “Monster in Law.” For the record, I love my in-laws dearly and would love for all of us to live together because they do everything better and teach us so much. I am sure my husband and children would agree because his parents’ cooking is much to be desired! India is the largest democracy in the world with vast religions, long held traditional festivals and some of the most beautiful architecture you can set your eyes on yet the cultures and physical features may vary depending on the country’s region but we do share one big thing in common.
And this is the pressure of meeting the demands of our society’s views on physical beauty and the damage it does not only to individuals, male and female, but adolescence as well. Almost everyone has more on their minds than our jobs or being spouses and parents. I am a woman and a person just the same as the women in the gorgeous country of India. As I’ve come to learn more about my new friend across the pond and her cause, I first felt the injustice that a young woman must feel in order to attain the goal of simply a spouse, gyms and the huge added pressure of keeping up with the influence of Bollywood which is vastly larger and more popular than Hollywood in the states. Do their adolescent girls or boys feel the same effects we see on our children faces if they feel they don’t fit? They must.
Often young school children are ostracized from games with their peers who have learned and adapted to social observations of skin color and the cast system. Our society has simply given each individual their own choice what they can do with their own bodies but these bleaching products would never be FDA approved according to many physicians statements in Europe.
After doing further research, I viewed more than 35 YouTube videos out of hundreds directed at women in India on bleaching their skin and tips on how to do this themselves at home since the market is so expensive. Women in more impoverished areas make payments up to ten dollars a week to salons where products are only tested on the owner and specific clients. These women are so desperate to achieve these skin lightening treatments they are putting themselves at risk for permanent and dangerous reactions from bleached blotches, infected boiled areas of skin to potential death on unknowing consumers by untrained professionals or over the counter products. The cosmetic company Ponds even advertises their own lightening products in India with quite racist advertisements from my personal perspective. Indian families pay for countless ads in their local newspapers searching to arrange a marriage with a fair skinned bride. And these products are only marketed there.
If we saw so many ads and products geared towards African American men and woman such as these there would be massive public boycotts! Also, India is a large country and has many different skin tones and regions where certain features are more prominent due to the countries development, history, culture and genetics. However, Bollywood mostly is forced to cast lead roles to fair skinned individuals to insure more successful production products for their viewers. So, with all these products that people are buying and using to ‘improve how they perceive their achieved view of beauty and the point being raised of racism and the effects to their youth, I had to ask myself as an American woman and mother first how I stack up in my personal choices before I wrote about this topic.
People struggle with the same issues here as well just in a different way. In my small town of Monrovia, Indiana, I am a rare skin tone due to being half Italian but most people I know have and still attempt to be darker. We see awful reality shows, ads for diet pills, diet fads, gyms, tanning salons, bronzers, you name it, millions are out there reaching for their goal of beauty while my skin color was admired as I aged and it felt strange.
I always grew up thinking, ‘This is just me people.’ I knew you couldn’t change genetics and personally never saw the point. I love how I look, feel and it makes me a better person. And just has genetics do, our girls have followed the same path and they are assured they are gorgeous for their spirit, mind and actions. So we choose not to buy any of these products or needless physical body regimes. We eat healthy and humane and are active. My husband and I encourage them to grow to love themselves for who they are and to be that person. I strive for the opposite of these oppressions, specifically the ones with racial negatives, yet still, there are endless amounts of people in India and all over the world who feel so insecure about their physical appearance and it’s a global issue to be discussed.
Even now there are gyms in India too which never existed before. China has machines that rock you while you lay down at a spa to equivalent a 45 minute workout. Here the demand of change most individuals lay with the perception that big is beautiful. In the states a vast majority of people are overweight, have illnesses due to obesity and death. One out of three children have early set diagnosis of childhood obesity in our country each year. Even our latest supermodel is plus sized as we hear on the radio the songs women singing about their larger anatomy features of bust and “Booty” leaving smaller women so insecure they often resort to painful procedures and undesired effects from plastic surgery.
I have seen my aunt diagnosed and survived skin cancer from too much exposure to tanning beds and a dear friend getting breast implants painfully larger than she had desired. Women Empowerment in India are standing up for themselves as well by stating “Dark is Beautiful,” which I think is great! Both our countries having super models, celebrities and woman of all shapes, sizes and colors standing up to convey what real beauty is, our own self!
They have websites, social networking pages and are active on with fellow causes. Women Empowerment in India has mentors and advisers who spread the message to woman just like me across the globe. We should all love ourselves for how we look and who we are as people. We should be healthy for ourselves, families, to serve and help others. Knowing myself, learning, helping spread happiness and love is the most beautiful thing in the world to me and I see this in the eyes of women in India working for more rights for themselves just as we do here in the states where we see the demanding struggle in our families, friends and our innocent youth’s eyes to strive for our standards of beauty. I see admiration in both of our countries, embracing our natural beauty in all shapes, colors and sizes but not just physical appearance but what the underlying message is to our glorious children. That beauty is more than surface. It’s about celebrating who you are and what kind of person you will be by contributing to yourself, family, humanity and community.
I look at this issue the same way I look at our terrible factory farming food industry. There may be products out there to achieve your tastes and desires even if they are bad for you but when you purchase those products you are voting for its growth and production. Each individual person should have the right to do whatever they choose with their own bodies of course but I do disagree with the heavy standards of beauty and the racist undertones.
Unfortunately until more people and youth get educated on this topic as I hope this article has helped achieved, they will be informed enough to vote. If the product doesn’t sell, they won’t supply it anymore. So we must all look amongst our personal choices whether be what we are consuming or purchasing and decide where we need to draw the line. Spread your personal message and experiences and grow to learn and spread your natural wings if you wish.
I never plan on plastic surgery and am a self-proclaimed freak about sunscreen in fear of premature wrinkles and family history of skin cancer. Yes, I’ve had moments where I hated my ‘mommy tummy’ or stretch marks but I earned those while bringing two wonderful people into this world and would never pay a penny to remove that evidence. Only my husband can see my body and bless him, he loves and adores each and every mole, scar or stretch mark on my body. A real man strives for a true woman’s soul, companionship, friendship, mothering and caring. Not your skin color! No one desires a partner in life with unrealistic expectations of their partner’s appearance especially due to genetics, which no one can control!
About the Author: This article is contributed by Annette McCracken in association with Women Empowerment in India. Annette is our guest writer and a marketing content writer at Community Chrysler Dodge Jeep at United States.
Also read: Enn Kural—The Mantra Of Respect Women