Hindustan Pencils : Wake up and remove the label ‘skin’

Prakriti Gupta,

Fairness creams, pretty ‘fairer’ girls of Bollywood, ‘gori’ bride for a tall, ‘dark’ and handsome groom…Is rangbhed the parasite only feeding on the minds of adults?

My 6 year old niece wants to go shopping with me. She wants to buy a facewash, a sun protection lotion, a non-oily cream. She has stopped playing outdoors in the afternoon, no longer sits with me under the sun in winters playing board games for hours like she used to before. She is so obsessed about getting a tan! “Mein kaali ho jaungi bua! (I will become dark!)” She tells me.

Brown n Proud

Shadows of my past take the center stage…I can hear mom telling me to use besan and malai to bath with, relatives taunting me about how dark I had become since I had started going to school, how I secretly considered myself lucky for being dark and not beautiful so I was protected from all the boy drama in school and could easily focus on my studies…it clenches my heart to recall the last one. And no matter how much I want to convince myself that this rangbhed, this obsession with a fairer skin reflects the mind set of our elders, I cannot help but confess that me, my peers and the whole western influence confused with idea of ‘modernism’ is equally to blame.

They did not have Barbie dolls to play with!

They did not have Disney fairytales to read! Snow white, Cinderella, the prince charming always saving his Damsel in distress!

They did not have crayons labelled as ‘Skin’ colour in their colour boxes!

As I have grown up and been exposed to the real world, read and learnt, I have come to believe to my very core that talent and confidence can overcome anything and if you are good enough, you will eventually make your place in this world!

Barbie has launched its Indian doll collection, yet my niece prefers to buy the fair and blonde one! There are stories like Matilda and Madeline, movies like Brave, yet she loves Cinderella! There is a brown crayon in her colour box, yet she always uses that ‘Skin’ crayon, that shade of pink to colour all the human figures in all her drawings! I am scared to think that maybe for the generation to come education will not be enough to overcome this stigma against the darker skin tone. I am scared to wonder what we will do then!

That is why, we at Brown n’ Proud are taking little steps for our fight against rangbhed starting from TODAY. We want to start tackling the issue from where its seeds are first sown-in the minds of the tender ones. If you support the cause too, please sign the petition against the ‘skin’ crayon.

To Sign the Petition, click here

Prakriti Gupta is a student of Maulana Azad Medical College, Delhi and also a member of an organization called Brown n’ Proud. She can be contacted at [email protected]