About a week ago, I came across an article about how people in India are “obsessed” with fair skin to the point that they actually use whitening creams to make their skin lighter. This is called the “Snow White Syndrome.” The article can be accessed here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8546183.stm
Now, although this fact about the obsession with white/fair skin is not new, as it has been prevalent in South and Central Asia for quite a long time now; however, what the article fails to discuss is how exactly this obsession began in the first place.
My theory is that this obsession could have begun with British colonialism, because when they first arrived in India they were probably seen as “Gods,” simply for the reason that they were wealthy and powerful. And since most Indians are tanned or dark-skinned, for them, a white-skinned person probably appeared “superior” and “God-like.”
As a result, Indians have always associated white skin with power, purity and divinity; as well as being visually appealing. And we can’t blame them for this now, can we? It’s the conditioning of the White Man’s Burden, where indigenous societies didn’t need an explanation for European colonialism for it was simply “understood” that white people had an obligation to rule and take over indigenous societies, so that they (indigenous people) would fully become and adopt the Western way. And, since Indians were invaded by the British, all those centuries ago, they were automatically led to believe that they had to look and act like them in order to be considered beautiful and powerful. And now it has become a norm where light skin automatically equals beauty and superiority, even though times have drastically changed now.
While it’s very much true that people want things they don’t have, they also need to realize that they cannot simply universalize beauty with an ideology that originated centuries ago. An ideology that is not only debauching but utterly ridiculous as well.
Furthermore, in the West, White/Caucasian women tan themselves to be darker, which is the complete opposite to what the Indians are doing. However, the difference is that these white women haven’t been told their whole lives that they HAVE to be dark in order to be considered “beautiful,” or accepted in a society where dark skin is seen as superior. Rather, a woman who tans herself to become darker does it simply because she, herself, as an independent woman, believes that it will make her look more visually appealing, and not what society has conditioned and instilled in her. However of course, the only conditioning that may count is the media, where beauty is universalized but, even then, women have the power to choose and decide for themselves what they think is best for them, without having to deal with any sort of uncanny racism within the society that they’re living in.
Racism between distinct races is inevitable (and still exists till this day, as distressing as that sounds), but when you have racism among people from the exact same ethnic background, then it is completely and utterly unjustifiable.