Friday, September 25, 2009

Tall, fair, and handsome

I grew up in the Fair & Lovely world. The lighter your skin (or hair or eyes), the more you could get away with murder, ugly features, or even deplorable social graces. In a region where most people were brown as hell, I never understood the tall, dark, and handsome adage. Everytime I read about some dashing hero in some Victorian/Elizabethan novel, the preteen me would wonder, erm, so is the darkness referring to the colour of his eyes and hair? But why is that desirable in a nation of blondes and blue, green, and grey eyes? I mean, in a sea of beautiful skin-, hair-, and eye-colours, shouldn't the dark person be the unfortunate leper?

Generations of women were automatically assigned rungs on society's wobbly ladder depending on aspects of their appearance that they couldn't control. The fairest girls had the most admirers. Grooms and their families shopped for the palest wives for their sons regardless of their sons' physical appearance. If you were a girl and weren't born a certain kind of pretty, then sucks to be you. Better develop your personality in that case because brown = pre-destined loser with no prospects. There was no such thing as fair enough.

So after generations of women vigorously scrubbing their skins in promise of that certain life-altering hue, the launch of 'Fair & Handsome' sparked indignation from certain sections of Indian society. What! Imposing such meaningless standards of beauty on men! Irrelevant! Unfair! Boycott!!

Which makes society revisit the meaningless standard of beauty that had always been matter-of-factly imposed on women and guarded by the sentries of society as a sacred gender role. Makes me think about my opinion that something is an important issue as long as it affects the men. If the women object, however, then they're just being hysterical and hormonal. Come, let us leave the womenfolk to their kitchen gossip while we men discuss important matters. We. Is. Caveman.

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