So, a few days ago I posted “I love the weather right now but I’m staying in because I don’t want to get any darker”. This brought on a barrage of arguments from fellow bloggers on how I am “self hating” and the whole skin colour issue is “colonial self hate”.
First of all I would like to apologise to anyone that got upset over the comment I made, or somehow got affected by it. From my perspective I’m not and was not self hating. I like my skin to be a certain tone, the tone I was born with and I want to keep it that way.
For those who are not aware. There is a cultural trend in South Asia about skin colour, where lighter complexion is seen as more beautiful. This whole argument on my instagram post got me thinking. Am I really self hating? Am I conforming to some notion of ‘lighter is better’ instilled on South Asians, by the colonial powers that ruled South Asia for 300 years.
Products from India like Fair and Lovely, Fair and Handsome are there to bleach your skin and make you lighter. Many PoC (People of Colour) in the West find these things offensive, maybe rightfully so. But don’t seem to mind when they use InstaWhitening to whiten their skin on social media. Although these contradictions and hypocrisies do exist. I suppose this culture does instill insecurities on dark skinned girls and boys around the world. I suppose straightening your hair would be the same for example, people of African descent where they are instilled that they should have straight long hair and products such as hair extensions to feed off that insecurity.
Make up throughout history has been there to alter features be it skin colour, face shape, eyebrow, lip colour etc. During the Victorian Era heavy powder was used in Europe to make themselves look pale white This could also be seen in South Asia where the use of face powder has been popular for over a 100 years. But does this mean that lighter is better was brought to us by the European rulers?
I don’t believe that this European rule was the cause of our colour problem. I believe this is due to working class vs the privileged class. Looking further back, pre colonial history, at Mughal art to see how beauty was portrayed in South Asian culture, it is easy to assume that beauty was portrayed as being lighter skinned. My assumption is that the women, who were subjects of these paintings, were of wealth and therefore lived a sheltered life in their perspective homes and not had to work hard in the sun, therefore, had lighter skin.
My post on twitter and then later on instagram might have given the impression of me wanting to become lighter or even trying to become “white”. But there is a difference to “I want to get lighter”, and “I don’t want to get any darker”. Wanting to be a lighter skin tone means doing something to your original skin tone, whereas not wanting to get any darker and staying in shade is not really doing any harm to yourself at all. If anything it is preventing from any change to take place.
Self-hate is such a strong word, especially when used to describe posts similar to mine. It seems to me, that when the topic skin colour comes up, it hits a lot of nerves nowadays. By no means did I try to say that dark skin is not desirable. We all come in different shades and that’s one of the things that makes us all different and beautiful in our own ways.
In fact, I’m all for natural beauty. I’m not a big fan of people trying to become lighter/darker or do any extreme acts to change the way they look. For example, bleaching, excess use of makeup and plastic surgery. Any medium used to alter the way you look completely, in a way that makes you look like a completely different person is in my eyes not being happy with yourself, self hate. But loving the way you look and trying to keep it is in fact the opposite. If all of those are seen as freedom of expression of oneself, why is it wrong for someone to wanting to keep their original skin colour so wrong? Is someone going to the gym to keep in shape, self-hate as well?
We would have to stop doing everything we do, to really be natural and to really embrace our natural beauty! If you think about it, it is unnatural to remove hair from your body, let it be plucking eyebrows or shaving hair off your legs. The same applies to wearing makeup. Makeup covers up, if not everything, some parts of what you were born with, your blemishes, your scars, dark circles…Doesn’t that mean that most of our grooming habits could be considered “unnatural” and therefore doing those things be seen as an action of self-hate?
Natural beauty is defined by what you feel is most natural for yourself and is what is most comfortable to you.
Do whatever makes you comfortable. Don’t follow the crowd!