In Pakistan, a disease called dark skin

Published September 30, 2015
Who keeps this obsession with gori rangat alive in our society? — Photo by Maliha Rehman
Who keeps this obsession with gori rangat alive in our society? — Photo by Maliha Rehman

I'm the girl who's instantly offered whitening facials in a salon even if I go to get my moustache waxed.

I'm the woman in Sialkot who has been rejected and is 'still on the shelf'; I'm also that cousin of yours that you will never find pretty, regardless of how scintillating I appear.

You see, I'm suffering from a disease: Kaala Rang.

They talk about me daily on morning shows and remedies for my condition are readily available on TV.

So frightening is the ailment that I am on the verge of deciding to never step out, owing to how acceptable dark-skinned jokes are, how routine it is to mock a certain skin colour and therefore devalue an identity.

I'm certain that the days aren't far when whitening labels would also be found on food packages (to be consumed at daytime, to glow like a tubelight at night), or when some affectionate herbalist lady walks up to me and hands me a chalk to smear on all over my face.

Perhpas, even then, our ladies would complain, 'Yeh chalk ka shade sahi nahin tha aur gora moo chahiye!' (The chalk wasn't the right shade of white, I wanted a lighter one).

Also read: Reclaiming our bodies, redefining the 'perfect bahu'

Which brings me to the question, who keeps this obsession with gori rangat (fair complexion) alive in our society? Males or females? I'm of the opinion that it's mostly the women folk.

The same women who only settle for a fair daughter-in-law have also passed this check-her-shade-then-reject gene to their sons, the theory being that a fair bahu will produce fair grandchildren, which will ultimately lead to a gora Pakistan!

Our society has no room for the dusky ones. We are the untouchables then, it seems.


The 'Kaali Pakistani' has to work doubly hard on her persona to leave any kind of social impact; her fairer counterpart, in contrast, will have many more doors open for her, even if she does not happen to be intellectually bright.

Instead of shaming this ideology and putting it in its rightful place (the trash can), our social fabric continues to promote the idea. Ladies throng to parlours in the hope of looking their fairest and not their best; physical features be damned.

There are no buyers for the sanwali. But, here's some news, we are not for sale. It is time to own up to this beautiful brown shade and reject all those who think of us as lesser beings.

Also read: Dark times, fair brides

Companies will continue selling their tanning creams in the west, while cashing in on the fair skin complex in the east. The need of the hour is for dark-skinned ladies to take a bold stand and stop contributing with their money and silence to anything labelled 'whitening'; don't encourage this colonial mindset by secretly trying out those totkas (home remedies).

Wouldn't it be awesome if girls of an impressionable age are taught to look at their abusers in the eye and go:

'Yes I am kaali, but you have a regressive mindset and ain't no one got a cream for that'.

It is important to dismantle the culture of mocking, brick by brick: when we embrace ourselves and are not hassled by name-calling, we take the power in our own hands. They will never make room for us, we have to shove ourselves in.

Also read: Brown against brown: Pakistan's fairness complex

It is great to work on your education or your interpersonal skills, but equally important to wear your skin with pride ‒ it is what nature designed for you.

That is the only way to cure a society ailing from this hideous complexion complex, but till then, keep praying for its recovery.

Get well soon, Pakistan.

Opinion

Educating merged districts
Updated 12 Apr 2021

Educating merged districts

The seven merged districts of KP, with a combined population of over five million, do not have a single university.
Greater visibility
12 Apr 2021

Greater visibility

It is not surprising that the custodians of patriarchy are fearful.
Rethinking executions
11 Apr 2021

Rethinking executions

One convict’s fight to escape the gallows exposes the deep flaws in our criminal justice system.

Editorial

Pakistan-India peace
Updated 12 Apr 2021

Pakistan-India peace

Experts note that everything — including Kashmir — can be resolved if there is a will in both capitals.
12 Apr 2021

Child abuse

IN its annual report, the NGO Sahil found that there has been a 4pc increase in documented cases of major crimes...
12 Apr 2021

New tax chief’s task

THE FBR got a new chairman on Friday. Asim Ahmed, a senior IRS officer who was serving as the Board’s IT member...
11 Apr 2021

Dissension within PTI

WITH the dust from the PDM’s implosion still not fully settled, the PTI is now faced with growing dissension from...
11 Apr 2021

Power to arrest

A SUPREME Court verdict announced on Thursday spelled out what might be considered a self-evident truth in any...
11 Apr 2021

Unequal vaccine distribution

IT is in times of crisis that we often see the best — or worst — of humanity. In this regard, the pandemic has...