Pakistan must learn from India: Dark skin doesn’t make you ugly

Published: September 2, 2013
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Nandita Das, member of the Jury Cinefondation, and heading the 'Dark is Beautiful' campaign. PHOTO: REUTERS

I recently came across an online movement called ‘Dark is Beautiful, a campaign that has drawn attention towards the unjust effects of skin colour discrimination in India. The campaign features famous Indian actress Nandita Das who has urged women to throw out their fairness creams and abandon the belief that dark skin is ugly. 

I was quite surprised to find that Nandita is perhaps the only actress to have resolutely decided to keep her dusky skin tone, despite the demands of the ruthless entertainment industry where there is an explicit preference for light skinned actors.

The same stands true about Pakistani society – we are also obsessed with fair skin. Like many facets of our society which is built around hypocrisy, opulent display of wealth and a growing divide between the have’s and have not’s, there is also a clear disparity of ‘fair’ and ‘dark’ complexion of women. Racism runs deep in the subcontinent’s history, with its roots intertwined with caste and colonialism. It is no surprise that this finds expression in consumer and corporate advertising today.

We live in a country where a culture of preferring a son over a daughter is already prevalent. Daughters are neglected and are many a times not given the permission to make important decisions, choose a life partner or to receive proper education, which is their fundamental right. Women are often expected to give away their right on ancestral property to their brothers.

In such a society, women are brought up by internalising a notion within them, that the day they will get married, they will attain their freedom back. As long as they keep their husbands and the in-laws happy, everything that they were deprived of in their father’s house will be handed over to them at their new abode. The sooner they get married, the quicker their chance of having a good life will begin.

Therefore, a majority of women from the time of their puberty, start focusing on their colour and body image. Teen girls try to fit in by having the newest clothing, fairer and flawless skin, and perfect bodies, all the while trying to be cool and popular. They worry more about their appearance than their academic work. Therefore, the girls who are not able to keep up with this fashion begin to suffer from low self esteem and lack of confidence.

Many other women are put down by others; their social standing is degraded and sadly these women do not stand up for their rights or fight back. One in every four females aged between 11 and 17 is weighed down by the pressure to conform to an ‘ideal notion’ of how they should look, a survey suggests. Five per cent of girls say they hate the way they look, and a further 20 per cent say ‘there is a lot I would change’.

Negative comments about their appearance from others, especially their own mothers, contribute largely to the lack of confidence in these girls.

The results have been interpreted to suggest that the lack of confidence among young women will mean that thousands fail to achieve their professional potential.

For me, it is not just an issue of self confidence and self esteem alone. There’s more to it. I have personally come across many girls who have experienced adverse side-effects from the continual use of these fairness and bleach creams in order to find the ‘perfect rishta’ (marriage proposal).

Some of them have gone to greater lengths to lighten their skin colour, even resorting to the use of steroids. Most fairness creams contain mercury which can easily penetrate into the skin and reduce the amount of melanin, making the skin more vulnerable to UV rays by thinning it. This may lead to serious problems like skin cancer, muscle weakness, osteoporosis and in case of pregnant women, it can cause damage to the foetus and the nervous system.

However, despite warnings from experts and several reports highlighting the dangers of using products that contain harmful ingredients, the demand does not seem to be lessening and the credit for this goes to aggressive advertisement campaigns by the corporate sector. The media and clever marketers play a huge role in influencing young girls, by getting popular female media personalities to endorse their fairness brands. Most of these advertisement campaigns are designed to ‘hook’ gullible women into believing that happiness, success and romance are connected with having a fairer skin.

Hopefully things will change and get better. It is campaigns like ‘Dark is Beautiful’ which establish steps in the right direction. I believe we should have a similar campaign in Pakistan to stand up against such notions that generate discrimination based on skin colour. It should be supported by top models and actresses like Aamina Sheikh, Eraj, Sunita Marshall, Neha Ahmed – women who are gorgeous and comfortable in their skin. We need these influential celebrities to educate the masses and help change the way young girls perceive and embrace beauty.

It is obvious that we need to take some action and help young girls understand that looks don’t always matter. What matters is having a strong character, a resilient will and an undying force within yourself through your talents and abilities – the beauty inside you.

Do you think Pakistanis favour fair girls?

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Tehreem Atif

Tehreem Atif

A Pakistani based in London. She is a HR professional with a keen interest in global politics, human rights, education, culture and society. She tweets @Terry_Atif (twitter.com/Terry_Atif)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • AverageMoe

    How can we learn from India?They suffer from more colourism than we do, in fact most of the Bollywood actors/actresses have origins in places in present-day Pakistan, that’s why they resemble the average Pakistani more than the average Indian.

    I think colourism does exist Pakistan but It exists all over the world including Brazil,Philippines,Mexico,Japan,Iran and even in America, so it’s not just exclusive to this part of the worldRecommend

  • Ali

    india is buggesst market for fair & lovely, i guess title line of this article is not justified..Recommend

  • Naila

    I totally agree with this article.
    I’m from Pakistan and have came across such situations where your color is what matters the most. I hear people saying ‘Yes, the bride was very beautiful, so fair’ and ‘No, the bride was not pretty at all, she was very dusky’.
    This way of thinking is very wrong. I do not see any problem with a dusky girl. I think they are far more attractive than a fair looking girl.Recommend

  • Hassan

    What the author means, in my opinion, is that a conscious effort should be made to abolish colourism!Recommend

  • Parvez

    The biggest market share for these skin whitening products, both in India and Pakistan, is captured by one on the worlds largest muli-nationals and against their collosal might Nandita Dass ( and I think she’s gorgeous, highly intelligent and a great actress ) and her tribe stand little chance for they are fighting a two headed enemy ………… but then there was David and Goliath.Recommend

  • xyz

    I think what tehreem meant was to support the movement launched by Indians in favour of dark skin colour.Saying that India is the biggest market of fair n lovely is totally an invalid point.Never did the writer suggest that Indians are broad minded this way.Even nandita das(God knows who she is) is taking steps to eradicate the racism which prevails in India (who btw are more conscious abt their skin tone than us)
    In a nutshell,the title is justifed and just a smart move to draw more readers.fair journalism(winks)
    Having said that I just wanna say that be proud to be an Asian.n be confident abt who you are.cuz this is how we are recognized! :-)Recommend

  • Dq

    The author herself appears fair-skinned though…Recommend

  • Ali

    @AverageMoe: “most of the Bollywood actors/actresses have origins in places in
    present-day Pakistan

    While there have been few actors/actresses in Bollywood whose origins are from present day Pakistan, I can list you at least 1000 actors/actresses in Bollywood who do not have any origin in Pakistan…Recommend

  • Rana

    Color discrimination exists on earth from ages specifically in European region! Religions of book including Islam categorically & strictly discourage color discrimination, however it’s on the rise with the passage of time due to decline in moral values, regardless modernization of mankind! Unfortunately, a person (male or female) with the darker skins is bullied within the house, family, school, college, offices and even during marriage. Nandita Das is doing a nice job by spreading the message Dark is Beautiful!Recommend

  • Omz

    @Dq: That doesn’t in any way diminish her argument though.

    Personally though, I never understood why we have this aunty culture of finding a “fair and lovely” bride for their sons. I tend to value character over looks and am least concerned about how my offspring will look (I kid you not. The reason why so many aunties apparently look for fair women is to have “beautiful” children to carry on the name). Recommend

  • S

    Whilst i totally agree that we need to get rid of colurism. The authors point about learning from india, i dont udnerstand. They have it too and have it a lot more. Havign a campaign which is highlighted by their own and global media does not mean they have become an example for this.

    Liek someone already said, india is the biggest market for fair and lovely, shall we learn from that too? Recommend

  • Anon

    @ Average Moe

    Bollywood actresses who are south indian women
    1. Hema malini
    2. Vyjayantimala bali
    3. Rekha
    4. Sridevi
    5. Padmini( of mera naam joker)
    6. Aishwarya rai
    7. Asin
    8. Deepika Padukone
    9. Vidhya balan
    10. Shilpa Shetty
    11. Malaika Arora Khan( half malayalee)
    12. Amrita Rao

    The list is endless…many lead actresses from any decade have been south Indian ladies…the names hers are just the ones I remembered in a few seconds.Recommend

  • Anon

    @ Xyz

    Nandita Das is a respected Indian film actress.
    You probably don’t know her,since she doesn’t do commercial,tacky,bollywood pot boilers but other Hindi movies.Recommend

  • Gemini

    Don’t know about rest of the Pakistani’s but I always prefer black beauties instead of a gori one :)Recommend

  • J Boye

    @AverageMoe:
    What you wrote is incorrect. Pakistanis suffer a lot more from colourism than Indians. Like a lot of your women stay out of the sun to avoid getting a tan and wear burkhas for same reason.
    I got Pakistani friends. If I say lets go to the beach, they say no we dont want to become dark.

    The Bollywood actors look completely Indian for goodness sake.. You have not been to India and I think you have been watching too many “Pakistanis are white” clips on YouTube.Recommend

  • Anshuman Tripathy

    @AverageMoe: You are spot on bro…dark skinned actresses like Deepika Padukone, Bipasha basu, Shilpa Shetty,Rekha & Vidya Balan dont stand a chance in Bollywood.Recommend

  • Dp

    @ J Boye

    ..I think you mean,Pakis are Saudis ,clips …Recommend

  • Uhh…

    @ S

    Pakistan would’ve been the biggest market for fairness creams if it’s population exceeded 1.2 billion.Recommend

  • Anshuman Tripathy

    @AverageMoe: Also I want to know where in pakistan do Rani Mukherjee & Kajol trace their origins from? Baluchistan?

    No wonder they resemble the average pakistani more than the average Indian.Recommend

  • http://Google Nasser

    Pakistan is majority Muslim. We are SUPPOSED to be color blind. Remember Hazrat Bilal? They say he was pitch black. And we love him.Recommend

  • http://Google Nasser

    Slightly off on that. I think It’s ‘Black’ is beautiful (instead of dark) And why not? Same smile, tears, laughter. (kulo wahid – as they say in Arabic.Recommend

  • AbsoluteIndia

    @AverageMoe: In india no one even give a damn about skin color…Its your talent which matter..Here many fair skin guy can be seen on roads with resume searching for jobs while dark skin tamils and kanadigaas r holding top notch job in industries and IT firms.IAS topper is also a lady of dark skin..How come dhanush a black skin guy,his movie crossed 100 cr marks …Indians have come long way this color issue..So many pakistani actors r trying in bollywood ,none is successful ..A part from bagging few B-grade role what they achieved in industry…Bollywood is run by Brahmin girls who r inherently fair complexioned….From Hema malini,Rekha,To sri devi,to madhuri dixit,sonali bendre,to kajol ,rani mukharjee,vidya balan,celina jaitely,shruti hasan,neha sharma and list goes on..Recommend

  • Anon

    @ Absolute India

    Not all beauties are brahmins.Asin is a christian…Aishwarya rai is tulu …Diana penty is Parsi…etc..etcRecommend

  • Pappu

    Personally i like white or fair skin. it is more attractive and genetically superior in intelligence when we compare scientific discoveries and inventions in every field of life made by whites and colored or black skinned people.
    Today, on the globe whites are the most advanced humans and blacks are the most backward, colored humans fall in between.
    Also whites have different shades of hair and eyes.Recommend

  • Surya

    You find diverse complexions in India. We have a range of skin tones from various regions… from Manipur to Ladakh, from Punjab to Tamil Nadu. You find the fair, the wheatish, and the dark in all parts. There is no such thing as the “average Indian”. My grandmother is a pale skinned, redheaded, grey eyed Kashmiri Pandit, while other members of my family have distinct complexions, but are all ethnically Kashmiri. Generalising doesn’t make sense in a diverse society.

    As the author says, discrimination must end. We can learn from anyone from either country who propogates such a change. Recommend

  • Gratgy

    @Anon
    Aishwarya rai is tulu

    A small correction- Aishwarya is from the Bunt community from South karnataka.. Tulu is the language she speaks. All communities in south canara district speak Tulu regardless of casteRecommend

  • Gratgy

    My wife is darker than me but she is still the most beautiful woman on earth. Beauty is in the eye of the beholderRecommend

  • AbsoluteIndia

    @Anon: Ok..I was talkig about the majority..Point is not that..India has many faces .India doesnt have this ..india doesnt have that.is just absurd.India has everything a nation requires to be super power..Beauty with brains …thats what bollywood is looking for…Say no to bimbos:-)Recommend

  • http://India Feroz

    Color is but skin deep, beauty is timeless.Recommend

  • AbsoluteIndia

    ‘brain’Recommend

  • Kiran

    @Anon: Asin is not a christian. She is a muslim from South India(kerala)Recommend

  • Anon

    @ Gratgy

    Thanks..Recommend

  • http://India Feroz

    @Kiran:
    Limit your replies to what you know. Asin is an Syrian Christian like 90% of the other Christians from Kerala.Recommend

  • AverageMoe

    To everybody:

    When I said “most Bollywood actors/actresses have origins in places in present-day Pakistan”, I actually meant the Kapoor clan,Dilip Kumar,SRK,Katrina Kaif and many others that can trace their ancestry to the regions of Pakistan, I obviously know that there are many South Indian actresses but they aren’t that famous and I don’t really watch many Bollywood movies so I’m not aware if it’s changed recently.

    @J Boye:
    “What you wrote is incorrect. Pakistanis suffer a lot more from colourism than Indians. Like a lot of your women stay out of the sun to avoid getting a tan and wear burkhas for same reason.
    I got Pakistani friends. If I say lets go to the beach, they say no we dont want to become dark.”

    Women all over Asia do that, but I don’t think Pakistanis don’t like going in the sun to prevent their skin from “darkening” they may have other reasons.

    I usually get sun burnt when I spend too much time in the sun if I don’t have sun screen on, so having melanin in your skin is a good thing, I don’t look down upon anybody that is darker.

    “The Bollywood actors look completely Indian for goodness sake.. You have not been to India and I think you have been watching too many “Pakistanis are white” clips on YouTube.”

    I may not have been to India, but I’ve lived in America, and there are around 2 million Indians over there and trust me, Indians look distinctly different from most Pakistanis, you’ll obviously an exception to the rule but we look different, just watch the Indian kids on Scripps Spelling Bee competition in America, none of them look Pakistani to me.

    And no I don’t consider myself or any Pakistani white, we’re olive skinned and race in my opinion is a social construct.

    Just because somebody says they look different that doesn’t mean they want to be European,.Recommend

  • N

    @ Kiran

    Asin is Christian man…she’s from an ancient line of kerala people who have been christian for 2000 years…they are called St.Thomas christians and are distinct from all the other Indian christians present outside her state..the commonest sects of them are nasranis,rcsc… EtcRecommend

  • Indi

    @ Average Moe

    If you think kareena and katrina are more famous than Vyjayanthimala,Hema malini,Aishwarya rai and rekha etc,etc- you clearly are speaking out of ignorance.Recommend

  • Surya

    @averagemoe, the spelling bee kids are mostly south indian. That pretty much explains it. Recommend

  • Usman

    This is a wonderful article. Just because racism and preferences of colour exists throughout the world, does not mean that we should tolerate them in Pakistan. Like most of the things, before giving justification on our behalf we tend to first start by blaming other countries. If it is more or less than our neighbours is of little concern, what matters is that they at least are doing something about it. What bothers me is that the success of these products is based on the underlying insecurity that an average girl in Pakistan faces. Which is basically because of the way they are treated unequally in our society. Treated as if in a way, they are articles of trade, if they meet superficial expectations of our society they will uphold things like ‘family name’ . I have hardly ever met a girl, who was not overly concious about the way she looked, with almost an unhealthy obsession with make-up. At the same time despite all that, I believe our women have so much potential, that would come through if we as a society are willing to change. After all this article is not just about dark skin, these type of articles are always a reflection of deeper problems in our country, to which we usually choose to turn a blind eye.Recommend

  • Ali

    @AverageMoe: Of all the actors who can trace their ancestry in regions of present day Pakistan have moved to India more than 7 decades ago. Move On…

    P.S.:- Many Pakistanis who are fair skinned can actually trace their ancestry in Iran/Afghanistan/Tajikistan/Uzbekistan/Turkey and so on….Recommend

  • Weirdity

    @AverageMoe:
    “Just because somebody says they look different that doesn’t mean they want to be European,.”

    Yes. You just want to be Arab or Persian depending on which sect you belong to. Sad.Recommend

  • Anand

    @Parvez

    Appreciate your understanding of the matters and of course Nandita Das. I am absolutely happy when someone finds her gorgeous. What an actor she is and a woman of character..Recommend

  • Saleem Hatoum

    If people think fair skinned females or the matter of fact males are better looking then it is the most pathetic mindset these Indian and Pakistanis and even B’deshi haveRecommend

  • Another Pakistani

    ///Pakistan must learn from India// yeah we should…that’s why India is a nightmare for every white woman!Recommend

  • NotSoCommon

    @AverageMoe

    Actually most of the pakistanis can trace their origin from Indian when they moved over to Pakistan at the time of partition and if you want to go further back in history they were all originally Indian so they can all trace back their origin to India again

    I may not have been to India, but I’ve lived in America, and there are around 2 million Indians over there and trust me, Indians look distinctly different from most Pakistanis, you’ll obviously an exception to the rule but we look different, just watch the Indian kids on Scripps Spelling Bee competition in America, none of them look Pakistani to me.

    You probably are referring to south Indians, who definitely look very different from north Indian and eastern Indians (who look closer to Chinese/Burmese). Look at north Indians and you will find the facial similarities with Pakistanis. Please remember, Indian is a vast country with diverse races.Recommend

  • Gp65

    @Author – nice article. I had not been aware of this campaign by Nandita Das, so glad to hear it is happening. It is much needed because in a country like India where most people consider getting married as the primary goal for a woman and being fair is a major factor in the rishta market, the dark girl can be left with major scars on the psyche.

    Incidentally, Nandita is not the only actress who has rejected the need to ‘lighten her shade’ despite being in Bollywood. Rekha, Sushmita Sen, Bipasha Basu are other gorgeous women who come to mind who have been unapologetic about their complexion.

    @AverageMoe:
    If your read the actual article instead of criticizing based on simply the headline which the blogger probably did not even choose, you will figure out that she was referring to emulating the movement ‘Dark is Beautiful’. It stands to reason that if there wasn’t a preference for fair girls, such a campaign would be unnecessary and so would the fairness creams. Please read before criticizing.Recommend

  • Humza

    @AverageMoe: I think you are partly right. Most native Pakistanis look different to the majority of Indians by virtue of geography, history and ethnic mixing. Pakistan is at the corner of several geographic regions; namely South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. Obviously, the deeper you go into India, the darker the people. Anyone who has been to Pakistan can tell you that native Pakistani races like Pashtuns, Punjabis, Baluchis, Kashmiris and Sindis have a different look to many Indians. The exception being Indians from the areas bordering Pakistan such as Sardars in Punjab or Kashmiri Pandits where there are similarities. However, when you go to Karachi, you will see Pakistanis who look every bit as Indian as your typical Indian because a lot of the Urdu speakers have migrated from different parts of India. I am an average Pakistani with olive skin and medium height but I consider myself typically Pakistani looking. However I accept that a lot of my Urdu speaking compatriots who come originally from India may have different looks. The issue of colour is linked with caste in India and it is not an issue in Pakistan. So yes Pakistanis may not consider dark skin appealing but we are not obsessed with skin colour as the Indians are because most native Pakistani races are generally fairer lighter anyway. You may notice that most fair skinned Indian actors and actresses come originally from Pakistan like Kabir Bedi, Hrithik Roshan etc or from regions near Pakistan.Recommend

  • Hold your horses

    @AverageMoe:

    Pakistanis look better than Indians syndrome !!!

    You certainly living in a fool’s paradise…….you’ve mistaken Punjab for Pakistan….Recommend

  • Fateh Mohammed

    In Indian subcontinent colour of the skin is related to the caste of the person darker the skin lower the caste it is freely assumed . The south is Dravidian( darker skinned ) and the north is Aryan that is of fairer skin . Somehow fairer skin looks good and preferred , a very human weakness , except probably in equatorial Africa where skin colour variation is minimal or non existent . Recommend

  • Hold your horses

    @AverageMoe:

    Pls keep your expert opinion to yourself…

    Spelling bee is certainly not pakistani’s (looking people) cup of tea.

    Pakistani looking people !!!! Whatever that means……Recommend

  • farrukh

    learn fom India???? Nice jokeRecommend

  • Gp65

    @Parvez:
    These creams are the symptom. The root cause are twofold
    1) importance of fairness for a girl in the marriage market

    2) the social mindset where respectability for a girl only comes from marriage. It is not uncommon for 28-30 year old financially independent and confident girls to be constantly nagged by their own loved ones about marriage. This, even if they know that it is not a lack of effort but failure to find a suitable partner is the reason for the single hood.

    This is going to be a long battle – a marathon not a sprint by any means. But we will prevail. The important thing is that the battle has been joined and the helplessness associated with these widespread social attitude has been abandoned.

    Go Nandita.Recommend

  • Np

    @AverageMoe: Most Bollywood actors and actresses have their roots in present day Pakistan? How did you come up with that? Do you realize that some of the top heroines are from south? From waheeda Rehman to vyjayanti anti mala to Hema malini to Sri Devi to jaya Pravda to akshaya rai to dee pika padukone? So many others from Bengal be it Sharmila, Raakhee, Jaya, Bipasha, Sushmita? Many more from Gujarat from Asha Parekh, to Dimple, to Parveen Babi to Tina Munim?

    What about heroes let’s consider the present lot. Salman is a Bombay boy born and raised in mumbai- in fact a Bandra boy, Shah Rukh is a Delhi lad. Saif’s family father’s family hails from Haryana and mother from Bengal, Amitabh hails from UP, Akshay Kumar from Amritsar. You probably think of Kareena and Ranbeer as having roots in Pakistan but I hope you realize that both of them and their fathers were born and raised in Mumbai. In India we do not have this mohair concept where 65 years after partition people think of themselves as Pakistani migrants. Those in India are Indians – period.Recommend

  • Np

    @Anon:
    Not to mention the many Bengali (sharmila, raakhee, jaya, bipasha, susmita, Kajol, rani mukerji), Gujarati (asha parekh, dimple, parveen, tina munim), maharashtrain ( nutan, tanuja, madhuri). Most heroes ( including Punjabi heroes like Dharmendra, Jeetendra, Rajesh Khanna, Akshay Kumar) do not trace their roots to present day Pakistan.

    The fact that Raj Kapoor was born I Peshawr is taken to mean that Ranbir and Kareena have their roots there. This ignores the fact that it was simply because Prithviraj was posted there – it is not like they were khandaani peshawaris. Shashi Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor were both Ron in present day India. Also Kareena and Ranbir as well as their Dads were born in Mumbai.Recommend

  • Np

    @AverageMoe:
    Katrina Kaif is half Kashmiri – please tell me which of your 4 provinces that relates to? The entire Kapoor clan cannot be traced to Peshawar. Prithviraj Kapoor lived in several places of which one was Peshawar where raj Kapoor was born, Shashi and Shammi Kapoor were born in present day India. If Raj Kapor’s birth makes his roots in Peshawar though he lived most of his life in present day India, then by the exact same logic Rishi Kapoor, Randhir Kapoor, Karisma, Kareena and aranbir were born and raised in mumbai. It is not as though Prithviraj raj Kapoor was a khandaani peshawari.

    As far as Shah Rukh, he has no roots in Pakistan. He had some uncles who migrated to Pakistan during Pakistan but their ancestors were from present day India.Recommend

  • Zalmai

    All my Pakistani friends, especially the ones from Punjab look like Indians. Punjabis, Mohajirs and Sindhis are some of the darkest people. I have never met a Pakistani that can be distinguished with any other people than Indians.Recommend

  • x

    Love nandita das! I find her immensely attractive, charismatic and poised. And has a lot more style, charm and intelligence than a lot of other ‘traditionally beautiful’ fair women. Also, sonam kapoor is absolutely beautiful! I’ve seen her interviews, she doesn’t come across as a very intelligent young woman and she has a dusky complexion but she is gorgeous! Recommend

  • Dolla

    @Naila:
    I know you are trying to make dusky girls feel better, but skin color does not detemine beauty. Darker skin does not make somone better looking and vice versa so your opinion comes as kind of hypocritical to what you are trying to say. Recommend

  • enu

    A lot of women are blaming their ugliness on their color when in fact their color is not the problem.Recommend

  • Zalmai

    Pakistanis are Indians and they all look the same albeit with various shades. Anyone who says otherwise is deluded.Recommend

  • Ayaz, Toronto

    Tehreem, unfortunately the problem of young women’s battered self-esteem due to the complexion of their skin is just one manifestation of the emphasis of the Pakistani society on superficial attributes

    In terms of this particular issue, the blame lies not only with the marketers but also with the future bride-oriented mindset that Pakistani girls are subjected to since their childhood – from the typical drawing-room Aunty talk to the aspirations of the girl and her parents of finding an ideal ‘successful’ groom from an upper-class family.

    Though Ms. Daas’s example is praise-worthy, I don’t think the Ketrina-kaif crazed Indian society is much better than Pakistanis when it comes to the issue of fare complexion. Recommend

  • NorthernLights

    I have white skin. I would happily go for a darker shade any time. The sunburn, the freckles, the inability to see in bright sunlight, the fact that I will look wrinkly sooner, the higher probability of getting skin cancer… pointless, really. If you use flash when you take a picture of me, it looks like a lightbulb exploded out of my head. Recommend

  • Insaan

    @Naila: I hear people saying ‘Yes, the bride was very beautiful, so fair’ and ‘No, the bride was not pretty at all, she was very dusky’.
    THIS WAY OF THINKING IS VERY WRONG. I do not see any problem with a dusky girl. I think they are far more attractive than a fair looking girl.

    Your way of thinking is wrong too. You say “I think they (dusky ones) are far more attractive than a fair looking girl”.

    Color only can’t make one beautiful.Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/TheViewThroughJagansLookingGlasses Jag Nathan

    The issue of caste and color are not confined to India. Iit is the bane of the sub-continent and will only wane when education reaches majority of the population. It is not concined to India or Pakistan.Recommend

  • Maria

    Frankly I don’t think Pakistanis are as colour obsessed as Indians. It is precisely because Indians are darker that they worry about colour and because of their beliefs in castes such as Brahmin and Shudr. In Pakistan, my mother would say darker skin implies that your ancestors were converted Hindus and not invading Muslim races from Central Asia or other parts. I think that is why Pakistanis look down upon darker skin. I learned this is not entirely true since a lot of people like in Upper Pakistan are naturally fair skinned but they have nothing to do with foreign invaders. I think this whole issue is pointless – instead of worrying about what constitutes physical beauty, why not just look at inner beauty: don’t worry about features, skin tone, weight or height, focus instead on whether someone is or isn’t a good person. A good person should be considered a beautiful person.Recommend

  • Pradhan

    @Anon:

    You forgot one of the best actress in bollywood Kajol who ruled bollywood for a decade. Another actress who was not that successful however, she is quite popular based on her some offbeat movie like “Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi” Chitrangada Singh.Recommend

  • Pradhan

    @Ali:

    You should know it is 1.2 billion population. Even if you could target just one percent of this population you can profit more then it can profit from entire Pakistan.Recommend

  • TA_59

    EDUCATION is required from this aspect as well and not only young girls but boys also have to be educated and told that the most important thing is NOT the colour of the skin and what is required from them is given @ the end of your wonderful article……………..Recommend

  • Californian Desi

    In world history there is only one country which got split in half because of their colourism. I am sure every Pakistani knows this country.Recommend

  • Dq

    @Omz: But im sure she must be really happy with my comment…Recommend

  • Dp

    @ Californian desi

    You are refering to bangladesh …Recommend

  • Hamza

    It has been over 60 years that we have been apart, Pakistani’s are way more different now… An average person in Pakistan is waayy more ‘good-looking’ than a bollywood super-star… I am not saying Indians are not good-looking or something but after all these years definition of “being-fair” changed between the two people, in India fair means girls like Katrina Kaif Kareena Kapoor or guys like Ranbir Kapoor or Imran Khan, but in Pakistan being fair is girls like Mehreen Raheel or Aisha Linnea and guys like Ahsan Khan or Osman Khalid Butt..

    Pakistani people are more fairer in general when we talk about common people,that is because people here are mostly descendants of Pashtun or Afghans or Persian or Turks, English or even Greeks…
    Descendants of Greeks are found in the upper part of Pakistan which we call Hunza or Chitral and Kalash, descendants of Pashtun Turks English and Persian are spread all over Pakistan.

    One thing I would like to point out that people in Punjab, both India and Pakistan are the only common faces left..

    now its not that Indians have bad looking faces, they do have very pretty faces, but in Pakistan it is a common thing, you’ll find a Katrina Kaif or Kareena Kapoor on average streets everyday and you won’t even care..as far as i know, some times i used to confuse an average person to be a foreigner in some market place or something.. (no i am not exaggerating i used to live in DHA KARACHI and now i am in the US).. well here in the US people confuse me for being a Spanish or a Mexican, they start talking to me in Spanish.. and I am like no I am not Spanish LOL!
    my friend went to India once, he said that he could point out the difference easily when comparing an average Indian and an average Pakistan, Pakistani’s are more fairer and have more sharp features than Indians…

    Talking about being fair, being not fair doesn’t mean you are ugly, there are many beautiful women who are not fair, but more beautiful than many fair women, take a look at Tyra Banks, she is black, but she is the most beautiful person on Earth..

    Talking about colorism in Pakistan, that is just you know “old-school’, in Pakistan now, all the old aunties do it, now no one cares if someone is not fair or someone is fair….. now everyone is beautiful….and everyone have the right to be, to think, and call themselves B-E-A-UTIFUL!Recommend

  • Kiesha

    Indians and pakistanis fighting over skin color…tragic!!Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com Anoop

    Even though I defend India in most cases, in this case I am personally disgusted by the attitude of many of my fellow citizens.

    When the whole of the fair skin world goes to the beach to get a tan, we the tanned lot want to do the opposite?

    Beauty is skin deep is too cliched. Beauty also doesn’t depend on the colour of your skin. Konkana Sen is one of the most beautiful women in India. Only a fool would not agree.

    I am just lucky that I’ve not imbibed that particular attitude and preference of many of my fellow citizens. Their world must be limited to finding beauties only on movies, but I can all over India. Recommend

  • Gujesh

    There are many other better things to be learnt from India.Recommend

  • gp65

    @Hamza: Glad you are pleased with how much better Pakistanis look compared to Indians. It is not affecting professional success of Indians compared to Pakistanis in either USA or Canada.

    http://beta.dawn.com/news/720712/dollars-and-sense-of-american-desis

    http://beta.dawn.com/news/718842/pakistani-canadians-falling-below-the-poverty-line

    So we will keep on focusing on wining spelling bees and you can keep on felling happy that you are mistaken for being Mexican. To each his own.Recommend

  • Hamza

    @gp65: Your above comment is off the topic.Recommend

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11375793199898765321 pakistani1414918

    @J Boye:
    Is this a joke? Indians avoid the sun more than Pakistanis for the reason you pointed out. Though Pakistanis, especially from coastal areas are extremely dark, on average Pakistanis are lighter than indians, not from youtube clips, those selectively show only white ones. I’m saying on average even the non-white ones are relatively paler than Indians.

    The article is just another “we can learn from India” garbage piece written by a Muhajir apologist. This time it seems she was unfortunately abused in Pakistan due to her color, but did not seem to stand out in India where she felt more belonging, so she shares her delusion that India does not discriminate against the darker..

    I don’t mean to sound discriminatory, but the point of this article is just another expression of Muhajir frustration with Pakistan where they don’t enjoy the privileges that they would in India. hence they always insist “we can learn from India”, which equals, give them the higher privileges, when in reality no one ethnicity in either country should be given such privileges. Recommend

  • Noor

    @ gp65

    Lol..why be bitter…Indians are ugly and Pakistanis are beautiful and fair-thats why they watch bollywood movies to gaze at ugly,repulsive, south indian dravidian and bengali actresses dancing in the rain,and then say bollywood movies are crass.

    @ Np

    See boss ,you have to accept that the great actor Prithviraj kapoor ,the patriarch of the multigenerational kapoor family of superstars came from Pakistan-all credit to pak! Its a different matter,that had he Not migrated from peshawar to bombay,he would’ve done badly as a hindu minority in pak/been killed. It’s not enough to be talented,you need to be in a country that nutures your talent.After all Pak is a place where hindu marwaris are poor and christians are scavengers-have you heard of a poor marwari,ever ?Recommend

  • gp65

    @Hamza: “@gp65: Your above comment is off the topic

    Did the topic have anything to do with how good looking and fair Pakistanis are and how they look different from Indians or how you are mistaken for Mexicans? No. Yet you spoke about it. Did the topic have anything to do with how different the Indians who win spelling bees are from tPakistanis? No. Yet @AverageMoe spoke about it.

    In light of this I wanted to make the point that regardless of whether a fair person or a dark person is beautiful, beauty is not even the yardstick used by everyone as a mesure of success. There are other measures of success also.Recommend

  • Prince

    Gore rang ka zamaana kabhi hoga na puraana :)

    We Pakistanis and Indians still suffer from the colonial mindset. Everything our former masters did/had/were, we consider to be desirable. Be it proficiency in the English language to skin colour to clothing.Recommend

  • Shery

    Learn From me and it is GOray rang ka zamana kabi hoga na pura LOLX,,,Recommend

  • Eee…eeek !

    @ Pakistani1414918

    Mujahirs are frustrated in Pak,because they have fewer privileges in Pak than Indian muslims in India- straight from the horses mouth !
    Why don’t you consider them equal to all pakistani citizens ?!Recommend

  • gujranwala789

    @Zalmai:

    And so do the majority of afghanis that I have seen in germany, most germans mistake these afghanis for a pakistani or indian.Recommend

  • gujranwala789

    @pakistani1414918:

    Exactly that is also what I have noticed, you will find so many blogs that are discussing how we can “learn” things from india. Yes make india a third world country as your ideal and surely the future of pakistan is doomed. Why people dont write blogs to learn things from more successful nations in the first world like germany, france etc. There are far more valuable things like work ethics, discipline and social justice values that we can learn from first world successful countries in western europe but no we are always told in many blogs to “learn” from indiaRecommend

  • np

    @gujranwala789: Dude Afghani is the currency, the people are called Afghans.Recommend

  • Sad but true…..

    the reason we are after fair is that its unique for us..Almost all goras I know here in Germany run after dark skin…Solarium etc

    Its just a natural instinct whts not easily available is in demand..simple…Recommend

  • AverageMoe

    @Np:
    Coincidentally I also happen to be half-Kashmiri and I consider myself Pakistani just like many Kashmiris in Pakistan, and Kashmir may not be a province in Pakistan but it is a territory just like how Puerto Rico is an American territory.

    The entire kapoor clan may not have roots in Peshawar, but Prithviraj Kapoor was a Hindkowan(an ethnic group Pakistan, almost non-existent in India), and Kareen Kapoor’s mother is a Sindhi(3rd largest ethnic group in Pakistan), Ranbhir Kapoor’s mother is Punjabi, so they all have an ethnic heritage similar to many Pakistanis.

    SRK’s father is from Peshawar, his mother is of some other ethnicity so that’s why he looks more Indian.

    @Zalmai:
    “All my Pakistani friends, especially the ones from Punjab look like Indians. Punjabis, Mohajirs and Sindhis are some of the darkest people. I have never met a Pakistani that can be distinguished with any other people than Indians.”

    Really?We have certain physical/facial features that distinguish us, we also have many things in common with north Indians since we belong to the same region, but if you willfully choose to ignore the different physical traits, that makes YOU, not us delusional and ignorant.

    There may be many Muhajirs that resemble Indians, but they only make up 12% of Pakistan’s population, African-Americans make up 11% of America’s population, so it would be ignorant of me to say that most Americans resemble Jamaicans.

    “Pakistanis are Indians and they all look the same albeit with various shades. Anyone who says otherwise is deluded.”

    I’ve got Afghan friends in New York that get mistaken for Pakistanis/Punjabis(sometimes even Indian) by most Americans and they do not like that comparison, and rightfully so.If some ignorant people can not see the differences between us then that is because of their ignorance, not ours.

    I could say that Tajiks and Afghans look the same, and I bet you wouldn’t like it.

    @gp65:
    “Glad you are pleased with how much better Pakistanis look compared to Indians. It is not affecting professional success of Indians compared to Pakistanis in either USA or Canada.”

    You’re actually sidetracking the main topic of conversation, but I’ll play along.

    The mean household income of Pakistani-Americans is $70,047(above the national mean),A separate study conducted by the American Community Survey in 2005, showed the mean and median incomes for Pakistani male full-time workers were US$59,310 and US$42,718 – respectively compared to the average male American full-time workers’ mean and median incomes of US$56,724 and US$41,965 – respectively.

    5% of Doctors in America are of Pakistani origin and about 61% of Pakistani-Americans have a bachelors degree.

    Shahid Khan is a Pakistani-American billionaire, he owns an NFL and EPL team, and there are MANY successful Pakistanis in America, your link about Pakistani-Canadians has stats that date back to 2005, and I know many Pakistanis that have move to Canada since then and they’re doing well.Recommend

  • Hassan Riz

    @Author

    Which country are you talking about? You live in the UK, you don’t know the reality about Pakistan. I think your blog aptly fits racism in the UK. ET please only allow bloggers who live in Pakistan to write articles.Recommend

  • Humza

    @np: You may not know that despite what Afghan refugees call themselves, people in Western countries call them “Afghanis”. There is a lot of variety in the appearance of Afghanis too but why is Zalmai so keen to point out the variety of different looks in Afghanis and ignore the variety of looks in Pakistan. Does he not know Pakistan was also part of Khorasan? Indians and Afghanis have always tried to ignore Pakistan’s history. Kabul at one time was ruled by Hindu Shahi sovereigns. Maybe if he looks at images of many Afghanis who look “typically South Asian” he would change his tune. I have seen many Afghani refugees in Europe and North America get mistaken for North Indians too. British writings from the colonial era make reference to the obvious different looks of various different South Asian races so why debate it? The point is why bring up a issue about skin colour when it’s not a social problem in Pakistan among most people like in India where it is a problem. So some people in Karachi buy skin creams? Most Pakistanis don’t care. Just love yourself.Recommend

  • Gratgy

    What a stupid discussion. Let me jump in too

    @AverageMoe
    Really?We have certain physical/facial features that distinguish us

    So, you are saying that the moment you cross the border facial features suddenly undergo drastic changes?

    Pakistani Pathans and Afghans who live maybe two kilometers from each other look different because a border divides them.

    People in Nagaland and Myanmar look different because there is an international border between them?

    Is the border some kind of magic line which somehow manages to change the way people look, even though they have lived there for centuries?

    The borders came up less than a century ago but people have lived there for centuries.Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Anand: Thanks Anand…………and I saw her first :-)
    @Gp65 : In my comment I mentioned that Nandita and her tribe were fighting a two headed enemy …….. meaning the multi-national who exploits and the other the mindset in society that you have so nicely defined.Recommend

  • Dolla

    @Hamza: Tyra Banks is not the most beautiful woman on the earth, not to me and many other people, maybe to you. That is a matter of opinion. In Asian countries, many prefer fair women, not Tyra looking women.

    Also, she is light skinned Black woman. Recommend

  • Kes

    @Gemini:
    Then more beautiful gori girls for good guys to choose from:) Recommend

  • gp65

    ET Mods- This gentleman has written to me. Pls. allow response.

    @AverageMoe: “@gp65: You’re actually sidetracking the main topic of conversation, but I’ll play along mean household income of Pakistani-Americans is $70,047(above the national mean),A separate study conducted by the American Community Survey in 2005, showed the mean and median incomes for Pakistani male full-time workers were US$59,310 and US$42,718 – respectively compared to the average male American full-time workers’ mean and median incomes of US$56,724 and US$41,965 – respectively.
    5% of Doctors in America are of Pakistani origin and about 61% of Pakistani-Americans have a bachelors degree.
    Shahid Khan is a Pakistani-American billionaire, he owns an NFL and EPL team, and there are MANY successful Pakistanis in America, your link about Pakistani-Canadians has stats that date back to 2005, and I know many Pakistanis that have move to Canada since then and they’re doing well.”

    Well, I was not sidetracking the issue at all simply implying that there is more to life than external beauty however you define it because I was amazed at how much crowing there was about better features which was completely against the spirit of the blog.

    Even in the url I supplied, for US, the Pakistani household income is indeed higher than the US average. So your survey shows nothing different. Also note that I did not supply survey findings but census findings which are more reliable. The point I was making is that Indian household income is much higher still. People like Shahid Khan are the exception rather than the rule and just as it would be silly for me to say India has had 5 Miss World’s as though that was evidence of anything, same deal with Shahid Khan – there are many Indian billionaires – not just living in US but also in India but that is neither here nor there. With a handle like @AverageMoe, I figured you would understand that.Recommend

  • gujranwala789

    @np:

    In pakistan the people are also called afghani, deal with itRecommend

  • Kes

    @NorthernLights:
    Grass is always greener mentality. And each skin works best in their Natural habitats and many people would want to change places with your skin. Recommend

  • sabi

    Zalmai
    All my Pakistani friends, especially the ones from Punjab look like Indians. Punjabis, Mohajirs and Sindhis are some of the darkest people. I have never met a Pakistani that can be distinguished wit
    Either your knowledge about Pakistan is extremely poor or you have extreme prejudice against punjabis looking at your posts on other topics I wouldn’t say that you are ignorant but too proud perhaps! I have no interest telling about my fair complexion and height on this forum but I can’t resist if you continue maligning punjabi folk so much to deny visible reality.I have been constantly traveling abroad and almost always having difficulty convincing people(keen watchers) abroad that I’m actually Pakistani who would otherwise take me as Spanish ;Greek etc..It’s not me alone but almost all my relatives male or female this generation or previous are tall fair skin occasionally with green or blue eyes even.None of us feel proud or even make it an issue.And we are pure punjabis and by the grace of God humble people too.God has given us different colours and divided us into different tribes only to recognize ourselves from others.Recommend

  • Logical

    @AverageMoe: How can you relate Dileep Kumar, SRK,etc.. to Pakistan? Those who migrated from Peshawar were part of British India (Akhand Bharat)…. They are Indians. Period. The question you need to ask yourself is why there has not been any Dileep Kumar or a SRK in present day Pakistan?Recommend

  • ioer

    Great article. The color of your skin has very little do with how beautiful you are. If color was the sole determinant of how beautiful you were, then there won’t be any ugly white girls. There are many models and artists such as rihanna, hall berry, beyonce, bipasha pasu, depika etc, who all look very comely, despite possessing a darker skin tone. Recommend

  • Hamza

    @Dolla, Tyra Banks has been voted as ‘the most beautiful woman’ many times, i am sure there are alot many beautiful girls, but she could be one of the beautiful, frankly speaking I am not attracted to her either, its just the statistics…

    @Gp65, dude we are talking about womans fairness, i just said that i was confused to be a Mexican just to create an example of how we look, and i never said Indians were bad-looking it is just an opinion that Pakistani’s have much fairer skin… plus winning a spelling bee doesn’t have to do with this topic, and yes the actual topic of this discussion is being fair… and plus i never denied that Indians don’t have a good-looking face, they too have many pretty faces, i am just saying Pakistani’s have more better faces….even I’ve read in many interviews of Bollywood celebrity that accept the fact that Pakistani’s have MORE better faces than their people…

    And if you want to talk about education, well Pakistan has the highest RATE of education growth, one of the largest collection of scientists and technicians, most A’s in a CIE exams is by a Pakistani, youngest Microsoft Certified Technician is/was a Pakistani and many more, look at the world away from the mainstream media and you’ll see a whole new beautiful world Pakistan is not what you think it is…. so be happy winning a small spelling bee competition…Recommend