Model and actor DIPANNITA SHARMA ATWAL on being listed among the 50 hottest dusky women by a portal. She speaks on India's obessesion with the 'fair skin'
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The portal Mensxp.com listed you as one of the 50 hottest dusky women. What is your reaction?
Well, I am very proud and happy to find myself on this list actually. For me, being who I am and standing for what I believe in, in every which way has been foremost and that includes the way I look, so I take this as a huge compliment and a rewarding moment
What do you think about the fairness creams, even for men flooding the Indian market? Why do you think are they so popular?
The concept of fairness being 'superior' is so rooted in our culture that most Indian children grow up with it. Every girl (especially in certain parts of our country) is told that she will find a suitable boy only if she is fair!! and a boy who is dark is often called names by his own family members such as 'kala kaluta baingan luta' (comparing his colour to a brinjal, in a demeaning way). Imagine how the life of such children might be, won't they grow up with a complex? Of course! they might be perfectly good looking actually, but the people around them are never going to stop commenting on their skin tone.
The fairness creams are a huge market in India and its a business of supply and demand. I don't think these brands care about moral issues or the damage they are doing to the society and at the end of the day, why should they? They want to make money and they are making enough because of the foolishness of our society. So, until such time that our people don't abolish the very thoughts of discrimination on the basis of skin tone, these creams are not going to go anywhere. Honestly, I condemn those parents who buy a fairness cream for their child and tell them it wi'll make them look better. That is the root cause of it all.
Do you think Indian society has a prejudice towards the dark skin, being fair’ equals ‘being beautiful’?
Oh yes a large chunk of our society does. While the whole world is crazy about our wheatish to dusky skin tone (which by the way consists of the majority of our population), in our own country people reccommend using harmful chemical based fairness creams to 'improve' skin tone. Which is why people in power and celebrities should be a little more responsible about sending out the kind of message they do, when they endorse fairness creams.
A good skin or fantastic skin has nothing to do with the tone or colour of it. Good, glowing skin is synonymous with smooth, acne free, marks free and radiance. This can be achieved in any skin tone with proper care. Good skin equals healthy skin and not, I repeat, any particular tone of it.
How is it in the glamour world? Did you ever face any discrimination?
The fashion world has been great. In fact the fashion world is about the confidence, the features on your face and the cheek bones. Skin tone has hardly any effect. Of course, the advent of white skinned girls who were from less privileged countries than ours and who were positioned as models in our country, by agents managed to get work here for sometime, simply because they charged a lot less than their Indian more established counterparts and the organisers in the fairness obsessed regions in India made the most of it.
The commercial world, more specifically advertising, is definitely more obsessed with fairness. I have never faced any discrimination simply because I had made up my mind never to endorse a fairness product, very early in my career and hence all those bad experiences of being turned away from an audition didn't happen to me, because I would never ever go for an audition if I didn't believe in the product. I was always clear about what I wanted to be portrayed as and what I believed in even as a rank newcomer.
What do you think about the looks of the models from Northeast India? How would you rate them?
I always say this, that Northeast India is the exotic face of India, the true value of which the rest of the country is slowly discovering. The same theory applies for the looks of that region. people are warming upto the features, the gorgeous skin and hair of the Northeast. I see a couple of new faces in the fashion scene here from my region and that makes me very proud. It might take a little while but the advent has begun. As long as they have a minimum height criteria of 5'7& 1/2" , great skin and features, the ones who are interested must give it a shot
Did you ever want to be 'fair and lovely'?
I always wanted to be 'lovely'. Yes, when people say you are 'lovely' to me, I take it as a compliment because the word means much more than just outer beauty, but equating this profound word, with a particular skin tone is something that always struck me as a mismatch. Its almost something thats laughable! It just doesn't make sense to me and hence have never wanted to be.