Society places a lot of emphasis on beauty. Unfortunately, although we say “beauty is only skin deep” that is the depth that much of the population focuses on. Of course, it is quite true that for each society, the concept of beauty is quite different. In some cultures, having long ear lobes is considered beautiful, while in others, having dark skin is. Many Americans covet dark skin and go to tanning parlors, at high cost, to obtain it. At the same time, in India, people spend tons on whitening creams and bleaches. Although there are dozens of articles proving that these creams do nothing, the sale of “whiteners” has not gone down. And it won’t until the society, as a whole, changes its perception of beauty.
Growing up with dark skin in northern India was particularly difficult for me. I remember once, my mom told me that I had come crying to her and told her that apparently someone in my kindergarten class called me a “crow“. I think that made an impact on my mother and from that day on since, she has been my rock and ingrained a high level of self confidence in me.
Growing up, I faced the prejudice against my dark skin, multiple times. But each time, I relied on my family and their strength. Every occasion, they reinforced positivity on me to ensure that I grow up to be bold and confident. I believe that those words of encouragement and positive reinforcement helped me combat the prejudice against dark skin in India. And when I came to America for higher studies, on my own, I found that my dark skin is actually an asset and is considered beautiful…by Americans.
Some of my extended family never considered that I would amount to anything. All the focus would be meted out to cousins who were either the fairer skin or the other sex. I came to America on my own merit for higher studies. I graduated with honors and moved on to become a valued professional. The thing is not many ever expected me to to travel to America on my own or to become a successful professional. I guess what they saw in me was a tiny girl with dark skin, with not much potential. Today, when my father would step amongst those same relatives, it is very apparent that the same people think different now.
And to my great luck, my husband and his family don’t even consider color as a measure of human value. It will not be a surprise to say that I love my mother in law a lot, maybe even more than my husband 😀 and my father in law is a great man who is always a great support to me and my family. I am extremely fortunate that I found a real second family after my marriage who love me for who I am. They don’t measure me by my face value but by my character and love that we share with each other.
Having my family (old and new) as a rock by my side, granting me every opportunity, helps me shine through. That is what the right set of favorable circumstances can do. I want to instill the same right kind of tolerance and impartiality to my son so that he can tear down the artificial barriers set by society and aspire for the kind of companionship in life that I am granted. This post goes out to all my dark skinned friends out there. I hope that you also have the same support that I have in my life.