Pratigya Dhali Wanderlust. Bibliophile. Foodie. Writing is a way of escaping the mundane for me!

White, Brown Or Black? Don’t Let Melanin Determine Your Self-Worth

3 min read

I am not a skin colour. I contain all of humanity in my heart and my mind, my flesh, my blood, and my bones, and I am proud of that fact. You should be, too.- Laurence Overmire

Ivory, porcelain, sand, rose beige, limestone, sienna, honey, almond, chestnut, umber, golden, espresso, and chocolate. You might be wondering why I am rattling names of the colour palette, these are the various names of the skin colour for humans.

Have you ever looked around and wondered why Nature looks so beautiful and breathtaking. Every step that we take, there is something different and fascinating. 

The creator didn’t intend us to be similar but equal in our difference. If we all looked the same, it would become monotonous, and as they say “variety is the spice of life”.

Why are we blessed with various shades of skin colour?

Have you ever wondered why do we have different skin colours? Well, it’s certainly not because of one race is greater than others. Our evolutionary history much to the woe of some is the same, we all came from the same hairy Home Sapien Erectus

As our ancestors ventured across the globe, their DNA modified to adapt to the change. As per Darwin, only those who can adapt to the change can survive, that’s why humans are here and dinosaurs got extinct.

The exposure to the sun is different across the globe, its rays are more around the tropics while it is feeble as we move towards the pole. Too much exposure to sun’s UV is harmful, so millions of years ago, our genetics developed to mitigate this crisis.

Melanin, the pigment responsible for our skin tone, is brown in colour and controls the level of UV rays absorbed which is essential to maintain a balance of folate and vitamin D in our body. Too much exposure is again harmful. Hence, natural selections favoured because as one moves farther away from the equator, the requirement for melanin drops and you are fair. 

It’s your genetic predisposition for survival and nothing to do with the superiority of your clan!

Why were you made to feel we are inferior to another because of our skin colour?

The answer to this answer stems from our collective colonial past. During the 16th and 17th century, European countries were engaged in colonisation of African and Asian countries and the Americas too. These continents inhabited by the “native” were made to feel inferior to their light-skinned “masters”.

Racism is one of the remaining vestiges of this colonial past and slavery. #BlackLivesMatter has removed the shade of ignorance that we often don to avoid accepting this constant onslaught on human rights. It has become so commonplace that we accept it as normal and it is ingrained in our collective consciousness.

Coloured women are still marginalized

African American women were subjected to many heinous acts of sexual and reproductive violence during the years of legalized slavery. While there were laws to protect rape of white women, the same was made to subjugate the Black women, and without any judicial remedy. Even during the Civil Rights Era, the availability of proper healthcare facilities was directly related to one’s skin tone.

Things have changed much in contemporary times either. African-American women are more prone to STIs like HIV, Syphilis, Gonorrhoea, and Pelvic Inflammatory Disease, which affect fertility and pregnancy-related morbidity and mortality. 

The entertainment industry plays an important role in how society perceives different things. They play an integral role in shaping popular opinion. African-American women are often stereotyped as being boisterous, hypersexual, and aggressive. This also holds true for other women of colour like Latinas and American Indian women.

Fairness creams and the hypocrisy

As Indians, we too are brown-skinned but have an uncanny attraction towards being fair and that is the primary reason for the advent and supremacy of “fairness cream” or as they are now called “skin brightening” or “whitening”, or “lightning” products. It is a multi-million dollar industry that preys upon the induced insecurity of women.

These brands are endorsed by top celebrities.

The Marketing industry ropes in celebrities since we all have a certain fascination towards them and would want to emulate them. Bollywood superstars like Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Sonam Kapoor Ahuja, Disha Patani, and others have spoken up against the atrocities against George Floyd which has sparked a global outcry on racism.

But the Twitteratti has been quick to point out that everyone who is showing their solidarity is guilty of the same vice. They have promoted the usage of these products which have been proven time and again to be extremely harmful for the skin. These fairness products are shown to be the elixir that opens avenues for marriages and career. 

Racism slurs don’t stop at skin colour. India is a vast country, often the people from the beautiful North-East are subjected to racial jibes. This has been exposed during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Being comfortable in your skin

We need a person to die mercilessly to wake up to this constant abuse on human rights. The fashion industry can play a pivotal role in reshaping the way people think. They have the reach and financial ability to bring acceleration to this social movement.

Top brands and social media influencers have put images of the black square in solidarity to this movement. But the need of the moment isn’t an Instagram update and Corporate Social Responsibility but being part of ground-level action.

But things are changing-  we have the people like Rihanna, Beyonce, Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Lopez, Serena Williams, Michelle Obama, Bernardine Evaristo, and Kyemah Mcentyre who are spearheading the entertainment industry, fashion industry, and are names to reckon with, in the field of sports, social activism, and literature. 

You don’t need to be constantly validated by strangers, being comfortable in your skin is the sign of utmost confidence. Every woman out there is unique, with their brilliance and beauty. There is no set standard of beauty, so stop trying to match up to anyone else.

With the right confidence, even the insurmountable obstacles become achievable. You become aware of your potential and self-worth. With the right stance, you become empowered to stand up for yourself and take a stance against atrocities.

This is the decade when the changes are adapted; the archaic thoughts get vanquished in the dusty pages of history. Today, every woman are equal and deserve unequivocal appreciation from the world.

Pratigya Dhali Wanderlust. Bibliophile. Foodie. Writing is a way of escaping the mundane for me!

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