Whilst I was on the rounds doing research and pre-release duties for my forthcoming book ‘The Butterfly Room’ a director called Stuart Gatt caught my attention; specifically his directorial effort “My Beautiful White Skin”.
Stuart was kind enough to provide me with a look at the movie, which raises to account a disturbing and trenchant aspect of non-white culture and one particularly prevalent in Indian and Asian societies.
I’m talking about the inherent desire to have fair skin, to lighten the colour of skin and to appear as fair skinned as possible even if it means undergoing all sorts of bizarre facial remedies and using nondescript skin fairness creams. Staying with the colour nature intended? Forget it; there are cultural norms to abandon and conformist ideologies to fit within.
My Beautiful White Skin is a story about a woman named Parita who is desperately trying to lighten her skin in time for a Bollywood Audition.
The film doesn’t just narrate the story of one person, but it beautifully points out the sad, pathetic reality that is audaciously lurking in our society and rather than opening their eyes and rebelling against it, people are blindly following it into corners of self-hatred and depression.
The film is a timely and important document of this abdication of personal and cultural responsibility and an ugly obsession. The obsession is conspicuous everywhere in India, right from television, ads, cinema, matrimonial preference etc.
The proponents of this despicable trend blame the masses…. their excuse is that people like to see only fair skin; as in India fair skin is often synonymous with good looks. It might be a hard question to couch but are Indians mentally colonized? Certainly Bollywood and Indian society places Europeans on a pedestal, especially in terms of the aesthetic.
It may well be programming indentured by mass media and globalization perpetuated by an archaic caste system and class elitism which has always seemed to raise ‘fairer’ skinner individuals above those who are darker skinned.
This is obviously a puerile argument but seems to mirror worldwide media acceptance of what beauty is. There are women everywhere in the media industries being airbrushed, cropped, photo shopped and ‘adjusted’ and yes they’re also being lightened.
The importance of this film is to scrutinize this kind of behaviour and to understand that fitting into someone else’s conception of beauty simply is not worth it.
Another rationale may be that because of the racism that is directed towards Indians systematically day to day, white fair skin may be perceived as being easier to live with, a ticket to automatic acceptance in society.
Just like size and shape, magazines promote particular characteristics to be envied and copied. I can’t really think of a single Indian model I could name that could be held up as a role-model for young Indian girls.
Alternatively you could ask why so many ‘white’ girls are envious of a tanned skin. Nobody is ever really happy with what they have and the saying ‘The grass is always greener’ couldn’t be truer where looks are concerned.
Don’t forget the fake liberal elitists who preach liberalism on the one hand and sell you skin fairness creams on the other. Fortunately or unfortunately, now even the men need to change their complexion. Gone is the conventional tall, dark and handsome look. They have to be fair and handsome. And to help them do this, we have top Bollywood stars urging them to use various creams and face washes they are endorsing.
I thank Stuart for inviting me to watch the film, below is the trailer to the movie which I recommend and remember BE BROWN AND PROUD.
London-based Saurav Dutt is a poet-writer, independent film producer, screenwriter and socio-political commentator. His work has been featured in The Guardian, The Independent and Mail on Sunday. He is the author of several works of fiction and non-fiction, most notably ‘Broken Sky’ whose book proceeds helped brain injury/stroke awareness charities and homeless charity organisations. His forthcoming book ‘The Butterfly Room’ details LGBTI discrimination and domestic violence and abuse issues impacting the Asian community and will be released in Spring 2015. His books have been short-listed and featured at the London and Frankfurt book fairs, BookExpo America, LA Times Books Festival and the International Kolkata Book Festival amongst others. www.sauravdutt.com
Get updates on ‘My Beautiful White Skin’ at @MBWSFILM