Hello woman, are you fair, wheatish or dark?

“Do not wear purple. It makes you look dark,” so they told me.

But today, purple is my favorite color.

The above two lines sum up my journey.

Chocolate, caramel, honey, cinnamon, and wheat! I am not stating the ice-cream flavors, but shades of brown skins that prevail in India.

And I am wheatish or maybe somewhere in between honey and wheatish!

Wheatish, in India, refers to the people who are not fair. The word ‘fair’ is not be confused with righteousness, but fair in this context alludes to the skin tone that is multiple shades lighter than wheatish.

Shadeism or colorism, whatever name you give to this prejudice, it does not matter. The important fact is India’s obsession with fairness though not new is still quite prevalent. Parents and relatives of the girls with dark complexion are often consumed with the anxiety of finding a suitable groom, and inadvertently transfer their insecurities to the child.  The girl gets humiliated every time the society favors the light skinned.

No one deserves to get hurt for their color. No one! Period.
The big companies feed off these deep-rooted insecurities and blatantly promote their skin whitening products. They even rope in big celebrities who endorse the idea that becoming light skinned brings success in life!

We all know how superficial these claims are? Granted that because of the deep ingrained fundamental that ‘fair is beautiful,’ the light skinned people are favored by the unintelligent, but promoting the concept that fair skin alone can get you success is preposterous.

Get over it people!

The Matrimonial advertisements in the Indian newspapers further aggrandize the fair color. A typical ad for ‘brides wanted’ reads, ‘Wanted a fair, slim, beautiful and convent educated girl for our son.’ Any sane person would know that for a marriage to be successful you need a connection at the emotional level and not at the skin gradient level.

Bollywood Cinema that prefers to star milky white complexion women does little to abate this unfair bias towards white complexion.

I do see the light at the end of the tunnel, though, with movements like ‘Dark is beautiful’ (http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/india-obsessed-white-skin-actress-article-1.1498783). There is a gradual shift in the mentality, and the new generations are not deeply prejudiced by the skin color driven beauty meter. But something that has been part of the society for decades would take years to change, and cliché as it may sound, ‘the change begins with us.’

This month of March is especial!  Women’s history month, Woman’s day all fall in March. What better way to celebrate than to appreciate the beauty in each one of us-

' I am beautiful NOT like YOU... I am beautiful like ME.'

(This was posted by one of my friends on social media, and it strikes a perfect chord with this article.)

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Being a woman

Over the weekend when I went for my Zumba class, a man walking behind me, held the door open for me. I smiled acknowledging his chivalry and rushed inside so not to keep him waiting. If you are reading between lines, I would like to elucidate that I do not take chivalry (originated from knighthood) as a portrayal of being a damsel in distress, but I accept it graciously as a symbol of courtesy and respect which sparks a positive note in the everyday monotony. I read that chivalry in today’s world is surviving on a life support, as most women of today treat it as symbol of weakness. Not me though, for I enjoy being treated like a queen, and to have someone pull out my chair for me or open the door is pleasing.

The same night I was reading to my boys, and then I skipped a dialogue intentionally where the brother says to her sister, “It’s not a girls job to put off the fire!” I was agitated to say the least, as no one has the right to define what a girl ought to do. And I am sure that I do not want my boys to grow up with a predefined biased thinking that stereotypes a woman’s role. 

Call the above two scenarios as my double standards or two sides of the same coin, wherein I enjoy chivalry, but at the same time I do not want anyone to dictate my role and responsibilities. I am not a feminist or for that matter I do not like my views to be labelled. I am not in competition with men or participate in the argument of fairer sex. In my perspective, men and women are gifted with different qualities, and serve different roles on earth and this does not make one inferior over the other. The genders exist to complement each other and thus grow together. The problem arises when one thinks the other has a subservient role, which ignites the fight for equality.

In my current avatar, I am blessed with multiple roles- I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am a niece, and also an aunt. I am a wife, and a daughter-in-law. I am a mother. I am a friend. Above all, I am a woman.

I spawned pretty much like everybody else-as a seed inside another woman – my mother. And as part of growing up, somewhere I realized that people around me had a more gentle demeanor towards me than my boy cousins. That was the first difference that struck my lady soul.

As much as I enjoy the freedom of wide selection of dress styles and accompanying shoes, I am also the target of criticism about my looks and hair than the men around me. I became conscious early on about the fact that I could get the attention, if I dress up in a certain way. Also, not often does someone compliments the appearance of men….but women are often graded for the looks and the have nots.

But it requires a lot more than appearance and body strength to live a life, and a woman is empowered with all these instincts and life energy. As I was raised by a strong independent woman, my mom, I did not consider my gender as a limitation to be me. I was raised to become professionally and emotionally independent. I learnt early on that a woman has much more to her than what society has laid out. I was not pigeonholed into doing the household work that is typically expected of a women, which is cooking, cleaning and knitting.  My mother believed that these are the skills that will be learnt when put to test as a wife and a mother, and she was so right. A woman has an uncanny art of performing these vital chores in her pajamas and flip flops, and still be at an office or to a party looking sharp.

It is a beautiful truth that a woman has the power to nurture a life inside her body, as well as have an influence over the children and the family in her world. She has the strength to keep the family together or otherwise, she is an epitome of courage that a man taps into when he needs support.  A woman is an enigma, hiding a mystical contrast of traits from being an emotional reck to being placid like a lake.

My women friends, you are a full circle and you do not need someone else’s validation to move ahead in life. Women Obstacles.jpgEven when the society does not seem welcoming of your ambitions, remind yourself that you have all the qualities within you to follow your calling with full throttle….and the world will eventually respect your views. The path to your destination is not easy, it has never been! But I want to be assured my lady friends, that you have made your own choice of destination without any outside influence. And making your own choices and going after it, makes you responsible, independent and a happy you! Be what you want to be! Be you! Be the woman you are meant to be!

“When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.” ~Audre Lorde

“A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform.”– Diane Mariechild

“It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you came from. The ability to triumph begins with you. Always.” ~Oprah Winfrey

“You take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.” ~Erica Jong

“There is a growing strength in women but it’s in the forehead, not the forearm.” ~Beverly Sills

http://livingempowered.areavoices.com/2010/10/top-25-empowerment-quotations-for-women/

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