Millions of people all around the world use skin-lightening creams with the hope of being more attractive, getting a better job, and earning a higher standard of living. The global spending on skin-lightening products will be $31.2 billion by 2024. Not a lot of people are feeling comfortable in their skin, clearly. Also, who hasn’t heard unfortunate stories from our country where dark skin is a liability. Dark skin is considered undesirable, and not just for women, keeping in mind that fairness creams for men are endorsed by Indian megastars! Her first encounter with the name and shame was when she was merely three-years-old. Dressed as a fairy in a beautiful dress and striking wings, Renee participated in the fancy dress competition. As soon as she walked up to the stage, the crowd booed, instead of cheering until the little girl walked away sobbing. This was one of the many incidents that Renee has been a victim of. Another instance she distinctly remembers is from her initial days in modeling.
For almost a year, she remained unemployed because of how she looked. I had no job for a year and was frustrated. Then, I made my portfolio from my savings. I started circulating it and got nothing but rejection. People made fun of my flat nose and complained about my dark skin. I was always told that only fair models were needed, she tells India Today. Since she started late and the fashion industry prefers young models, Renee was forced to hide her actual age, “People usually want younger models. Besides facing the color bias, Renee also had to dodge casting couch experiences. They told me all models are into prostitution. I won’t become a model unless I pleased clients. Being dark had already killed my chances, she tells the Hindustan Times. On occasions when she did finally got offers, photographers would tell the makeup artist to lighten her skin tone by 3-4 times. In addition to that, her images would be photoshopped. Not wanting to get her expectations high, she laughed it off. But soon, more people started noticing. With time, she gained popularity in the glamour industry. The obsession with skin color begins right from the time we are born. Relatives and friends engage in constant comparisons. Advertisements, series, songs, and movies further fuel the notion that fair skin will help land your dream life partner, job and life.
While there have been many people like Renee who are coming out and smashing this stereotype, it is a long way to go before India whole-heartedly accepts everyone equally and eliminates discrimination. This story is part of The Stereotypeface Project, an initiative by The Better India that challenges 26 stereotypes, which continue to exist even today. We are showcasing these stereotypes through all the letters of the English language alphabet. Stereotypes exist everywhere — they are passed down over generations. Instead of embracing and celebrating what makes us unique, we stand divided because of them!
(Text Source: The Better India)
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