Right from Barbie dolls to “fair and lovely”, we’ve all been conditioned to believe in unrealistic standards of beauty. Movies, advertisements, and beauty brands equate fair skin to beauty and Bollywood is not a stranger to this idea. In a country like India, where there is an obsession with fair skin, it is no surprise that celebrities are encouraged (sometimes forced) to lighten their skin tone and endorse brands that promote fair skin, whether they want to or not.
Stars like Kajol, Deepika Padukone, Shilpa Shetty, and many others have been asked to disown their natural skin color and choose a lighter tone to fit into India’s idea of beauty and, sadly, this is the reality. The actress who won Miss India is no exception to this. With all the fame and success she has received in India, actress Priyanka Chopra lost the melanin in her skin. Now an international sensation, we see how she has embraced her natural skin and is flaunting the beauty of her dusky complexion. Is it because she has transitioned into an international platform that accepts and appreciates dark skin? Read on to know more.
Colorism in Bollywood
With Bollywood’s fair skin obsession it is quite clear that colorism is a deep-rooted issue that prevails in our society. No matter how talented or beautiful an actress is, if they are not light-skinned, they are not appreciated because they are not considered beautiful. As we all know several actresses have endorsed fairness creams and PC has been a part of not just one but two such creams when she was still in India. She was the brand ambassador for these brands and her skin goes from dusky to light in the advertisements much like in her real life. She later went on record to admit that such endorsements were a mistake and said that as a society we need to let go of the idea of “fair is beautiful” and move forward to accept that beauty comes in all shades.
Priyanka Chopra has not been the only victim to colorism. Several actresses have been pressurized into changing their natural skin tone and adopting lighter skin. It is easy to blame these actresses for choosing to promote something as ridiculous as colorism, but sadly the truth is that a large section of the Indian society will refuse to buy tickets to a movie that stars dark-skinned women. Living in an evolved society that is educated and aware, is this a fair approach?
Slammed For Embracing Natural Beauty
It is quite unfortunate that different shades of skin color are not accepted by a society that is rich in diversity. Several actresses have fallen prey to racist comments which goes to show the depth in which color bias is ingrained in our mindset and how much work we have to do to move towards a more open-minded and accepting society. Priyanka Chopra has come out and spoken about the discrimination and humiliation she faced as a teenager and said, “Because I’m darker, I had issues as a teenager— society pressure that a girl is prettier if she is lighter.”
Actresses have walked out on Bollywood simply because they did not support colorism. One such socially-aware actress is Nandita Das who supports the “Dark is Beautiful” campaign and refused to work in an industry where colorism prevails. Another actress who walked away is Frieda Pinto who is known for her role in the Oscar-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire. She said that she left because she does not support fairness creams and has constantly commented on Bollywood’s preposterous obsession with fair skin.
Bipasha Basu was allegedly called “Kaali Billi” by Kareena Kapoor during a verbal duel between the two divas *facepalm*. We tend to think that only actresses face the brunt of such discrimination but in reality, actors too have been on the receiving end of racial comments. The extremely talented Nawazuddin Siddiqui is one such actor who has allegedly faced demeaning comments from actor Rishi Kapoor and casting director Sanjay Chouhan which just shows how deep-seated the fair skin obsession is in our country.
When PC Met Hollywood
While Priyanka Chopra did not have the opportunity to embrace her dusky complexion in a fairness-obsessed movie industry, she now owns her dusky skin and there is a stark difference in her skin tone than when she was in India. The gorgeous Priyanka Chopra flaunts her natural beauty because there is no need to have lighter-skin for her industry anymore.
While racism is quite prevalent in Hollywood as well, the fight against it has gained much more ground than in India. We have seen that there are mainstream celebrities in Hollywood who are women of color and it has made a lot of difference in the way they accept and embrace beauty. With Prince Harry marrying Megan Markle to Zozibini Tunzi Miss Universe 2019 being a dark-skinned woman, we have come a long way in the fight against colorism but there are still miles to go before we live in a society that is inclusive and accepting of all shades of skin.