Being a dark skinned British Pakistani female myself I have always wondered what it was about my skin colour that the much older generation and some the same age Pakistani community members find displeasing. I think it’s fair to say I have quite clear skin; I don’t and never had any terrible breakout or any skin conditions. However, my skin is still somewhat an issue to some family and community members. I am saying just “skin” alone but I guess I should be mentioning “skin colour” as this is the real problem, it’s not the skin it’s the colour of it.
Growing up I have developed a rather thick skin against this ridiculous ideology that fair skin is fine-looking and dark skin is unpleasant to have. If anything I love my skin and the tone of it! So when others perceive me to be unfortunate because I have dark skin, it really doesn’t bother me because I do truly love the colour of it. What bothers me is that this 17th century mentality which for some bizarre reason still exists! I mean just think about it we are now in the 21st century, the human race has accomplished many things one of the most magnificent is flying to the moon. We’re certainly are an intellectual species, we also have the depth and the mental capacity to reason in philosophy and astronomy. We may have many incredible features to us but we also have many negative features such as being shallow, selfish, greedy, deceiving, dishonest etc. These negative attributes can be argued to play an important part in making us a human being. But what about racism? Where did this negative feature that is so embedded within our society come from? The classic debate about are we born racist or nurtured into being a racist is something I can ponder over again and again. However in this case we are specifically looking into racism within the south Asian community. I find this racism to be somewhat different.
There’s racism when someone of a certain race isn’t accepted by their host culture or race. However when it comes to racism within lets refer back to the Pakistani and Indian community, it’s different because that individual is never truly accepted by their own community, their own people who share the same background and history as them. In effect, you are being marginalized by your own kind, your segregation isn’t as extreme as for example African slavery rightfully so it shouldn’t but it’s there, and it still exists. You’re a victim of more mental aspects of racism rather than the physical. For instance, when a family visits who may have ‘rishta’ (hand in marriage) seeking intention, your biggest insecurity may be that they will not be impressed by your dark skin and find you too ‘khali’ to be allowed to marry their son. You can have the most beautiful, sharp and defined jawline and cheekbones which defiantly a White person would notice and say “You can be a model” but this in not visible to your Asian aunty, who only sadly notices your skin tone which is a major issue to her.
Another form of this mental racism which I guess can also be seen as physical is when you get told numerously to try skin lighting creams. A very famous and sordidly popular lighting skin cream that many South Asians are familiar with is “Fair and Lovely”. The amount of memes I have seen online on this product where social media pokes fun out of it. It’s comforting to know that the younger generation understands how ridiculous the whole concept of this lighting cream is and are able to mock it. Nevertheless, this is still a serious matter. I feel to now start another blog post on Fair and lovely and just basically go on a rant. However I need to get back to my point. So as I was saying there’s this form of racism when you’re told to try out different lighting skin products. The best part is when the person who is telling you could possibly be your mother or an Asian aunty again is using this sickly sweet and advisable tone to address this “sensitive issue”. Or when they make these products sound really exciting and magical which will most definitely solve all you’re life problems and you will have nothing to worry about anymore. As you will soon gradually begin to look like you have smeared ‘Atta’ (white dough) all over you face and look a bit like Casper the friendly ghost. But having this fake white skin tone that doesn’t look natural whatsoever is what people prefer over your natural, healthy and radiant looking current skin tone- well according to Aunty Shugufta anyway.
The third form of Pakistani racism in specific is when a child is born who has a dark pigmentation. Immediately people begin to comment on the babies’ health and create a reason to justify the child’s dark skin tone. For example, “Your child looks very Kamzoor” the famous word that is used for all reasoning of justification “Kamzoor”. So basically according to middle aged Pakistani aunty logic, if your dark skinned you must be Kamzoor and it obviously has nothing to do with genetics. (Right okay cool story bro) The sad thing is that there’s parents out there who actually give in to this and do use this excuse to justify the reason for their kid has dark skin! You’ve got dark skin because you have iron-deficiency- by the way there was a uncomprehending point in my life where I actually believed lacking iron in my blood was the reason for why my skin was dark (yes I know, you may go ahead and laugh at this) I now am less of an idiot and having done my research I now know having iron deficiency actually makes you skin paler it certainly doesn’t boost up that holiday tanned look you have going on, it does the complete opposite. I just don’t understand why parents even feel the need to ponder about their child’s dark skin. Why can’t they just accept it and see how beautiful their child is regardless of the colour of their skin colour.
Summing up my arguments on why Pakistanis and Indians are so put-off by dark skin, well the arguments can really go on forever! There are of course many factors to where this dislike of dark skin came from and why is such a stigma. Talking about stigma maybe we should raise the question itself for why is being dark skinned such a stigma? Perhaps if the ones who dislike dark skin or the ones who try to give you a “cure” for your dark skin could answer this question in actual honesty and just let us know what their problem is? Why is being ‘khali’ such an undesirable thing to be? Rather than those who find dark skin ugly and make hurtful remarks and beat around the bush, I rather them just be honest and straightforward in addressing their issues against dark skin. Perhaps if we were given a proper reason then we would understand their crazy mentality better and maybe be even to help them.