Living in a country like our own, most of us might have heard the following, “Beta dhoop mein ziada ja rahi ho, dekho rang kitna sanwla hogaya hai.” Or maybe, “Aisa kero wo fairness creams lagana shuru kerdo, gori hojao gi.” All those dreams of wonderful things that would happen if only a girl is fair. “Gori hojao gi toh sab pasand kerain gay” “Gori hojao gi toh rishtay ayein gay” Gori hojao gi toh acha larka milay ga” “Gori hojao gi toh Khoobsorat lago gi”
Gori hojao gi toh this, gori hojao gi toh that.
Enough with this gora craze.
At some point in our life, we have all been victims of this fairness complex. Be it taunts from our aging grandmothers or the aunty living next door, the media’s glorification of the fair skin or even mere comparisons of skin color in front of the mirror – we’ve been there.
In our country, it’s all about the degree of fairness.
Ironic isn’t it though? We’re nothing like our ancestors, our culture has drastically changed, our values, our morals, our way of conversing, our way of eating etc everything HAS CHANGED, but somehow our obsession with gora rung remains intact.
In a country where it is genetically common to have brown skin, the fact that most people see it as a problem makes absolutely no sense at all.
As a newborn, I was very fair, with big eyes and jet black hair, I was a pretty baby to look at. Most people used to say kay “Maa pe gayi hai” since my mother is very fair with beautiful colored eyes.
However, that didn’t last long. I started school and just like the other kids, I loved playing with my friends. Running around the playground and having some fun in the sun. Little did I know that fun in the sun would subject me to taunts for the rest of my life.
I remember clearly that I was about 13 when one of our neighborhood aunties had come over.
I overheard her saying to my mom that “Khayal kerain iskay complexion ka warna agay ja ker problem hogi” Another time my own Nano told my mom to use some desi totkay such as haldi ka ubtan and cucumbers and lemon and what not to make my complexion a bit fairer.
Whenever I used to go out to my mum’s gatherings, several women would say that I, by no means look like her daughter. Others would suggest using fairness creams and desi totkas to lighten my skin color otherwise shaadi me masla hoga. Larka milnay me masla hoga.
There came a point when I actually started believing that my skin color was all that mattered.
No one cared what I was like from the inside. My personality, my intelligence or wit, whether I was kind and caring or not – none of that seemed to matter if I wasn’t fair.
Soon after, I started trying various things to make my skin tone lighter. I would spend hours surfing the internet as to how I can lighten my color quickly. Finding several articles, I made a skin lightening regime which I tried my best to follow.
To my disappointment, I failed to see the difference and this frustrated me to a point where I began to hate myself. I used to look at all those fair girls and wish that I looked like that. Yet, at the same time, I wanted to be just as I was because I liked who I was. Also because I felt that the people making fun of dark-skinned people were doing something insensitive and hurtful, that they were wrong. And I didn’t want to change for the wrong people.
One day while sitting in the library, I overheard a conversation going on between two girls.
They were talking about an upcoming college project that they were working on. One of them said, “Our vision will be to help women celebrate who they are based on their innate value and unique potential. I feel that this is the first step towards recovery from skin color bias. Change begins with one’s self. One of our goals will be to help people believe in themselves and celebrate who they are.”
“You can’t consume beauty. You have to create it,” said the other girl.
As I listened to their conversation, I learned that if I had the right amount of confidence and personality, then I no longer needed to avoid buying clothes in colors such as white, yellow, orange and neon – the colors that people said would look too bright on me or too dull or too ugly.
I learned that instead of wasting time trying to lighten my color, I should work on my self-esteem. Soon, I taught myself confidence. I learned that not being ashamed is the first step towards complete confidence about one’s self, one’s bones and flesh.
And it finally hit me. What people say doesn’t matter anymore.
People are never going to be happy. No matter what you say or do.
If you can’t appreciate yourself for what you are, if you can’t recognize your own abilities and beautiful self, then it is guaranteed that nobody will! Dark-skinned girls need to be confident about who they are and what they can do. The mothers looking for perfect, fair, educated, gol roti bnanay wali, sughar girls can keep their princely sons at home.
We’re beautiful the way we are. Period.
I am who I am. And if anyone wants to choose me as their friend, as their life partner, as their bahu, then they must accept me as I am.
Because what counts is my personality, my intelligence, my education, my behavior, my way of conversing, my sense of right and wrong, the respect I give – not my color. Are you a victim of this gora craze? Have you seen people around you being targeted because of their color? Do you agree that color does not define a person? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
Cover image via thenews.pk via Yousaf Fayyaz