This Pakistani Artist Just Got So Real About Pakistan's Obsession With Being Gora

By Iman Zia | 18 May, 2017

This artist in Lahore is insanely cool. She’s the face behind that hella cool desi Wonder Woman that exudes female empowerment for desi women. Shehzil is a feminist and feels it very important to bring problems faced by South Asian women to light in the way she knows best…through her captivating designs and illustrations.


Her art draws inspiration from complexities desi women face everyday

Things like women’s roles in society, beauty and shaadi, everything is part of her art.

Source: Shehzil Malik / Facebook


Shehzil draws to advocate real issues that often go unnoticed or are incorrectly depicted

Source: Shehzil Malik / Facebook


A proud feminist, Shehzil recently shared a heartfelt post on Facebook about her personal affliction from facing color discrimination from her own family

She brought to light the obsession we have with fairness and the lack of confidence we breed within our own skin.

Source: Shehzil Malik / Facebook

Here’s what Shehzil wrote:


“When I was a child, my fair-skinned grandmother (aptly named Haseena) would scrub me with pumice stone till my skin was raw to try to wash away my brownness.

She’d rub lemon juice to bleach my stubbornly dark elbows and knees, shaking her head at how disappointingly darker I was in comparison to my mother. In my teens I discovered fairness creams. I remember being advised to mix them all for a truly effective dose- and so off I went, mixing a concoction of Stillmans and Fair and Lovely every night. I would check my skin against the shade card that would come with the creams- diligently trying to measure whether I had transitioned to a lighter swatch of skin color. That was until I discovered a more potent potion, the pearl cream, Arche. Arche became my magical pot of self-confidence. I would slather it on everyday- school days and weekends- and soon it came to the point that I could not leave the house without it. In my twenties, I was warned that Arche contained Mercury- a serious toxin- and could cause terrible side effects. I listened absentmindedly to the warnings


I finally felt like I had a chance alongside my fair-skinned sisters and friends.

This cycle only stopped when I left the country. Surrounded by women of all colors and shades – from the extremely white to the extremely black, and all colors in between- I realized how ignorant I sounded trying to explain my motivations behind looking for fairness creams. It seems obvious to say, but I only understood when I stood next to them, that beauty came in all shapes and sizes and colors. I finally felt that I was beautiful- and more importantly that my skin color and appearance had little to do with it.

I share this because I look around and see women worrying about their babies being dark and ridiculed by their families, women in my village making the same fairness cream mixture with an added kick of Betnovate; I see beauty parlours come up with increasingly stronger bleaching agents; I hear tales of people using peroxide to bleach little girls, and see both the men and women in my life made to feel inferior to their lighter-skinned counterparts. To the pale, the fair, the gora- there is no inherent superiority based on the amount of melanin in our skins. To the brown and the dark and kala- embrace yourself.

You are brown, and you are beautiful.”


Her post was welcomed by many who related to Shehzil’s experience

Via: Facebook


Many remembered times when they might have been pressurized to becoming fairer too

Via: Facebook


It was a heartbreaking post that touched many

Via: Facebook
Via: Facebook
Via: Facebook


Here’s to celebrating and respecting the way you were born, ladies.

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