I spent my childhood at my Grandparents’ place(maternal grandparents). My parents for their office purposes stayed away from me. Nevertheless, I was happy with my mom’s family that consisted of two aunts, one uncle, grandma-grandpa and lots of love. I was nursed ever since I made my presence felt in their lives. A picture perfect life. Having three women around me of course made me the centre of attraction. Of all my mom’s siblings, I was more attached to my older aunt(second sibling of my mom), she spoiled me when it came to make-up, lipstick, high-heels, skirts etc. that made me a kind of fashionista at a very young age. We used to go for movies together and roadside chaat. She was in her mid-twenties, was a working woman and my grandparents had decided to marry her off. I was growing up and could understand things that were going at home. I was not indifferent to the proposals and rejection.
It was in late 1990s, men came and went, but my aunt was rejected every time. She was a wonderful woman, very beautiful; protector of her parents and an angel to me. She had a nice paying job and great many friends, perhaps, life was not meant to be easy for her. I could see the pain of rejection and the way she used to overcome it. Many times it happened that a man liked her, but his mother rejected my aunt. It was a awful situation for entire family. This was the time I realized, how colour discrimination still existed and the apathy of these circumstances. It was sad to see how mothers still influenced their sons’ choices in powerful relationships like marriages. True that families have to have say, but nevertheless, it was pathetic to see somebody else’s decisions influencing our lives. Things did not end there, My aunt not only had dark complexion, but was also plumpy in appearance. These were emotional fats she had developed over the years due to constant rejection and it added further agony to her dreadful situation. Well, she got married in early 2000, quite late for her age as the society said, but unfortunately it was not all that happy. She compromised with life.
I am sure, my aunt would not be the one to face this kind of humiliation, there might be several other women around the globe. But have we wondered why this kind of denigration only against women? Are all men fair and handsome, slim and slender that they and their families expect women to be “sarvagunn sampanna”(endowed with richness). Of course, in my aunt’s case society talked a lot about her marriage not being fixed, gossiping if there was any problem with her, and things like that. Finally she got married and mouths were shut. What caught my attention and dazzled me was this one word-”society”
Why does society has so much influence on us and how is it that we allow the society to influence our thoughts and action? Here, it was not just about patriarchy, but about the society in general. The moment we are born, we just do not belong to our parents, but the entire society in our past, present and future. Society gives us a lot throughout our lifetime, from the hospital we were born in to the cemetery we’d be buried in. Society gives us and it is our duty to give it back, but what if the society is against us for the crimes we haven’t committed? What if the same society talks behind our back if our marriages aren’t fixed, will we ever have enough faith in our society? will we ever give anything back to this so-called society? Well, the ideas of complexion and being a slim beauty, are prerequisite to the society itself. Its creation lies in this very society. These two ideas have further fragmented a woman’s body. With the emergence of fairness creams, facials and bleach; most women started thinking that they would really get any instant fairness, now come on, had this been the case, a mass population with darker complexion would have used this as a treatment against their complexion.
With the advent of print media and TV adverts, the consumption of fairness creams and weight loss products started increasing and their major target was middle class women-the office goers as well as the housewives. Various magazines like Femina, Elle, started printing home remedies for women who could not afford cosmetics, along with the latest fashion trends and further leading to fragmentation of body in bits. True, that a woman is never an individual SELF, but made up of all the small parts combined together- home, office children and the bigger social construct that directly influences her behavior and action. My aunt was just another prey to these beautification techniques and society’s bewilderment to the newness. She too applied the fairness creams and weight loss products. How easy it is to fool people!
The women in my village are no alien to these commodification patterns. Today, when I go to my village, every house has a tube to fair & lovely cream. Their source of influence are the TV actors endorsing such fairness cream brands. A certain population cannot be blamed, if such elites are trying to change society in haphazard manner.
It is the high culture that sets rules and establishes trends.
People have replaced traditional creams like VICCO turmeric with something as fraud as fairness creams that are even more harmful. Today, a woman’s face like her body, too is fragmented-her eyebrows, lips, cheeks, nose have identity of their own and amidst all this the SELF is lost! Is it not unfair on the society’s part to promote such products and discriminate the few?