Beauty beyond colour

Changing mindsets

Beauty beyond colour
The spotlight has been turned in a particularly unflattering direction and the debate on Indian society’s obsession with fair skin is raging on in full force. What started off with the ‘UnfairAndLovely’ campaign last year received a leg up recently when Abhay Deol called out Bollywood actors for their hypocrisy over fairness creams. Social media has been abuzz with campaigns calling for a more inclusive society, especially in the case of the entertainment industry, and people couldn’t agree more.

“This kind of stereotyping has existed for a long time but it is only now that people are coming forward to talk about it,” says Anu Abhilash, a Computer Science graduate. “The problem is compounded because of the portrayal of women on both the big screen and the small one. The female leads are invariably fair and slender and even if they look somewhat different, they undergo a transformation of sorts to win the affection of the hero and generally succeed in life. ”

But there has been a welcome change nowadays. Plus size or dark skinned models are more welcome than ever before and industry insiders feel it is a good start.

“In reality, being on stage or in front of the camera is all about attitude. This has nothing to do with the complexion,” says Arpita Banerjee, an actor. “But the problem exists in the mindsets of people. Certain thoughts have been instilled in us from ages and these are so deep-rooted that it is going to take a long time to rectify it. Which is why it is heartening to see a revolution of sorts in the industry as well as outside, led by the social media.”

One such revolutionary antic was the surfacing of a picture captioned ‘The faces of India, they won’t show you’. It shows three dark -skinned Indian women, wearing saris and jewellery, posing in front of the camera. The picture has been shared more than 30,000 times. Taking the cue, major consumer brands are turning their advertisement campaigns around to focus on the importance of being comfortable in your own skin. Artistes from all across the country are also coming together to lend their support to the cause.

“I think photographers especially are doing a great job. When they move away from muses who are ‘conventionally beautiful’ and bring to the fore the other side of the society, they are giving these people the respect they deserve. Authors, painters, sculptors and even some film makers and producers are opening up to the idea of embracing all sizes and colours,” says Arpita.

However, there is still a long way to go and it is not just for women. “If there is a pressure on women to be ‘fair and lovely’, now there is a thrust on men to be ‘fair and handsome’,” rues Anoop Chandra, a professional. “Men are also expected to look like human versions of Adonis and movies encourage this trend.”

Having launched a plus size line for men, Sujayath Ali, co-founder and CEO of Voonik.com, says, “Plus size doesn’t mean overweight, it can also include tall or stocky men who have broad shoulders or wide chests. Still I feel fashion brands are now more responsive to the consumer preferences and that is a good trend.”

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