Dear Indians, why are we so unfair towards ‘dark’ girls?

Published: April 23, 2017

Dark-skinned girls in Bollywood like Bipasha Basu and Lisa Haydon are labelled as ‘dusky beauties’ and referred to as ‘sexy’ and ‘hot’.

Every day you’ll see tonnes of confessions by India’s dark girls (savli, tan, dusky or whatever you would like to call us in the milder version!) on different opinion blogs where they simply blurt out their deepest frustrations.

Some have been rejected by their crush/lover, some were shamed by their potential in-laws, and some were even rejected during interviews only because of their colour.

And India is not a racist country? Oh please!

Dusky beauty’ is something that my ears have been bombarded with ever since I was a teenager. Yeah, not just beauty but dusky beauty! And this is the reason why most of the people I’ve met, including my former manager, thought I’m a Bengali.

Yes, because if you are dark and beautiful, you are Bengali, if not (according to their standardisation) then you are south Indian. Prejudices!

I’m none though!

‘Dusky’ is a euphemism for dark and is often used by Indians to refer to dark-skinned girls whom they find quite attractive. Going by this new norm, dusky is exotic, dark isn’t! This is the reason why dark-skinned girls in Bollywood like Bipasha Basu and Lisa Haydon are labelled as ‘dusky beauties’ and referred to as ‘sexy’ and ‘hot’. However, using another word to illustrate the skin colour of a girl one finds attractive shows that ‘dark’ is used as a derogatory remark.

The stigma of being dark is plaguing the Indian mind-set even as you read this piece. Many of us would endorse the idea that ‘dark is beautiful’ here in the comment section but would reject a girl merely because of her colour in reality. There are guys who leave their girlfriends whom they love dearly, merely because they are dark and their parents won’t accept them as their life partners. What would they showcase to their relatives, the dark-skinned bahu (daughter-in-law)?

Oh no! What will happen to their prestige? After all, Indian bahus right after the wedding are no less than a showpiece where everybody comes and gives their ratings on their skin tone, eyes, nose, weight etc.

The acceptance of a girl in India as a potential bahu is directly proportional to her colour. Her education, business skills, communication, career and even her personal nature go for a toss. So what if you are an ideal bahu who can keep the family intact and become the most awaited member of the family, but are dark by the virtue of your colour? You are destined to bring shame to the family, unfortunately!

And if you are the one calling those guys (the one that I mentioned above) cowards and giving them names, my friend, be the change you want to see. The guys are not as happy as it is because they know they are at a loss, and not the girls. Moreover, the recent trending convocation speech by Shikha Sharma at the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIM-A) clearly explains their loss.

People have a strange belief that all the jokes surrounding dark skin offend us, well, mainly because many of us deep down believe that our dark skin is our shortcoming. Well, honestly, people who get offended by jokes about dark skin are not the ones who think that being dark is a shortcoming. Girls like me find such so-called humour offensive and highly oppressive, not because our dark skin is a shortcoming but because our society portrays dark skin as a shortcoming.

Besides, the offensive humour gives liberty to mock a particular skin colour by devaluing their identity. Jokes about dark skin clearly show that it is absolutely fine to make fun of somebody’s body.

I know few dark-skinned people, especially guys who are fine with it, if somebody makes fun of their skin-tone. Unfortunately, their act of being a ‘sport’ demands other people to be like them, to be as mature as them, and to have a sense of humour like them. However, not all can believe that it is humour and our thinking that is offensive and not the society’s way of dehumanising us.

This post originally appeared here.

Deepti Verma

Deepti Verma

The author is co-founder of - an online portal for articulating opinions, views that needs national as well as global attention. She tweets @universal_rover (

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