Judging someone’s looks

Last week, I was at an Upanayanam ceremony for one of my nephews. Lots of relatives gathered, there was talk of an upcoming wedding, and an album was being passed around. Some of my aunts were sitting and looking at pictures of someone’s engagement.

“Her mouth is a bit wide,” remarked one of my aunts.

“I kept telling the boy’s mother to not rush – to keep looking for a more beautiful girl – but they ended up settling for this one,” replied another.

The person in question (on whom the rude comment was made) was sitting with another group of people in the same room. I noticed her flinching, then quickly recovering and pretending not to have heard.

It is hard to describe how I felt. On the one hand, I wasn’t surprised – I have grown up around similar conversations all my life. Passing judgment on someone’s looks is done openly, shamelessly. In many cases, the person passing judgment is very far from being an Adonis or a Cleopatra. Yet, I can never get used to this routinely blatant putting down of another person. No one else in the room felt anything was wrong with this conversation.

After the ceremony, we sat watching a TV show based on singing talent. One by one, the participants came and sang beautifully. For every participant, comments were made about someone being “too dark” or “too fat” or “having terrible teeth”.

“Wait, I thought this was a singing contest,” I said, “I didn’t realize it’s a beauty contest.”

The sarcasm was understood, laughed at, and quickly dismissed. The rude comments continued.

I’ve noticed that this particularly happens in certain situations –

  • When people get married, their looks are relentlessly dissected. A woman’s looks are dissected way more than a man’s, but at the time of marriage, many men do not escape some level of scrutiny either.
  • A daughter-in-law’s looks continue to be the subject of discussion for the first 10 years of her married life – how they should have looked more, found someone better, how the parents should have listened to better advice, why the children are darker because of her, etc, etc. After the first decade, for some reason, people move on (perhaps to make time to criticize other newly wed women?) A daughter-in-law is seen as a trophy perhaps, not as someone’s life partner, and a trophy must, above all else, shine.
  • If most people in the family are lighter skinned, the fewer people who are darker skinned suffer a lot of insults. If most people are darker skinned, this does not become much of an issue. Relative differences in skin color seem to determine the extent of the problem. God forbid if a person is born with darker skin in a relatively lighter skinned family – she becomes the subject of lifelong regrets.
  • There is intense staring in public places. Looks (of complete strangers) are once again being meticulously evaluated for reasons unknown. There is the general staring which I find harmless and dismiss it as idle curiosity.  There is a certain type of staring directed at women – especially women walking or traveling alone make prime targets for this x-ray type staring.  If the starer feels bold enough (depending on the situation), he passes rude comments on the looks of the person being stared at – both negative and “positive” comments are demeaning.

Questions that come to mind –

  • In a country that is defined by racial diversity, you’d think we would be used to a wide range of skin tones and facial features by now. Also, racial mixture in our country has happened to the point of complete lack of clear delineation. Most people look mixed race. So, why this obsession with skin color and race based features?
  • Let’s say we accept that someone happens to have these regressive attitudes. Still, how has it become acceptable to communicate in such a rude, insulting fashion?  Where is the social filter?
  • Why do people at the receiving end of such remarks not protest? Why do they meekly accept these remarks as if they did something wrong?
  • Can we stop the staring? It’s rude and makes people uncomfortable and makes public spaces uncomfortable. If you are a woman and walking or traveling alone, you will get the worst of it. I tried saying an unsmiling ‘hello’ or ‘can I help you’ to ward off staring and it did work many times. Maybe if more and more people object to it, it will reduce.
  • Is there hope for change with regard to these attitudes regarding skin color and rigid definitions of beauty? When will we start accepting that it takes many diverse faces, body types, and skin tones to make up the world? When we learn to embrace diversity?

When will we learn to look a little beyond the surface? Because if we tried, we might notice someone’s genuine smile, someone’s warmth, the mischief in someone’s eyes, or the iron will in someone’s purposeful stride.  We might notice someone’s natural grace or someone’s thirst for freedom or their intrinsic kindness.  It is all there – in their faces, in their bodies – in their fleeting expressions, in their evanescent gestures – those qualities that uniquely define them – if we care to look a little beyond the surface.

Related Posts:

“I am perfectly alright with being ‘unattractive’ to a majority of boys – love is not some job interview where you try tailor yourself to someone’s needs.”

How would life be different if you never had to give a thought to how you looked?

What makes a woman look beautiful?

Does beauty really lie in the eyes of the beholder?

50 thoughts on “Judging someone’s looks

  1. Yeah judging people by looks is quite the norm in India. My own mom does this all the time. Even Aishwarya Rai looked like ‘a lizard’ to her much to my and my brother’s chagrin because growing up, we couldn’t take our eyes off her.

    Both men and women seem to do this to both men and women. I feel they have to find fault in other people so as to feel good about themselves.

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    • I think it’s learnt behavior – children watch adults obsessing on someone’s looks and pick up this habit of intense/harsh physical examination. Eventually, for some, it becomes a way to assert their superiority, for others, it is seen as “funny”. Maybe for many, it’s a bad habit that they unconsciously absorb and engage in – one that needs to be consciously broken.

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      • I have a question about Indian humour. I keep getting these chain joke mails on Whatsapp andd Facebook. Frankly, I find them really offensive – these are women making the joke and they are so sexist and racist. The racist I can explain away by saying ‘oh they’re in India and have no experience of other cultures’ but the sexist stuff isnt’ even clever. It’s just unfunny.

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        • I’ve experienced the same, and when I express my dislike or disagreement, I’ve been told to ‘chill’ and ‘not take everything so seriously’. I steer clear of most whatsapp groups, but there are couple of them on which I stay to keep in touch with old friends. So then, me and another friend who finds these things offensive, discuss our feelings separately. It takes a lot of courage to stand up to your ‘friends’ (as JK Rowling rightly said :)), but it also takes, time, patience and energy, and we’re almost always short of those. So, more often than not, we have to ignore these things and move on. Once we begin a discussion, we need to be able to have patience until the other person begins to analyze and question what’s happening–we can’t force our opinion on anyone, we have to let them come to a conclusion or determine a change in perspective on their own. Until we have the bandwidth for that, the default go-to action is ignore/move on.

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  2. I fall in this category //If most people in the family are lighter skinned, the fewer people who are darker skinned suffer a lot of insults. If most people are darker skinned, this does not become much of an issue. Relative differences in skin color seem to determine the extent of the problem. God forbid if a person is born with darker skin in a relatively lighter skinned family – she becomes the subject of lifelong regrets.// I could say I was kind of mildly affected after listening to many other stories of people who had experienced worst scenarios pertaining to colorism . Still that difference had been clearly pointed out. People have shown surprise when they ask my caste and I say it (when I was young), more so when they see my dad. i wish I was taught to say it is none of your business.
    1. Yes, people know about diversity etc etc and would accept another daughter/DIL being dark skinned or not beautiful but still when it comes to their own family all these comments and expectations pop up.
    2. No, there is absolutely no filter. They can say any shit they want just because they can. Especially when egged on by other people in a group during family functions.
    3. The people who receive it are made to feel guilty about their skin and when they protest they are stereotyped as ‘dark people are loud or rude’ etc and word spreads about the person’s character.
    4. I wish it changes too. I do the same, I say “Hi” or keep looking back and they turn away.
    5. Just to give you a glimmer of hope. I got to work with this group of young people in the past year and what impressed me was they targeted as simple as the crayon box in which peach was labelled as ‘skin’ color and have been making companies such as Navneet change it. http://www.womensweb.in/2015/09/brown-n-proud-interview/
    Thank you for bringing this topic out for discussion🙂

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    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts and the article! Awesome to see these young people raising awareness about color bias.
      Another thing I remember from childhood is reading those beloved Amar Chitra Kathas – yet every good character is light skinned and every questionable one is dark skinned. The irony of it all is that our heros Rama and Krishna were supposedly dark skinned and handsome – then why this prejudice?

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  3. All I can say is people seriously lack mental occupation if they have so much time to sit and observe the dimensions of other peoples’ mouths and various parts of the anatomy, not to mention colour etc. The solution to this problem is to keep people productively employed so they have no time to indulge in such wasteful gossip.

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  4. I honestly feel being extremely judgmental on one’s looks (and other things) can pose a sense of disrespect to the individual. On top of that it is ridiculous as everyone is born different and should be rather embracing themselves. What if something really happens to a person where they have their face burned, or have cancer, are they still going to be judged harshly on how they look? They are already saddened that they have to adjust living to a new life after whatever event they go through, do they need other people’s insults on top of that? I hope not.

    I feel like in India everyone wants 5’7 perfect looking Aishwarya Rais, who have the perfect personality and does everything perfect w/o any flaws. Like how possible is that really? Even I got compared to other girls because I’m not the right height (I’m only 5’0) and am not super feminine, overly girly, dressy..etc -_-. And yes the skin color obsession. I have witnessed that among family members and family friends. Even little children get remarks about being too dark. One of my cousins’ daughters have very dark skin and there was been remarks on how she’s too dark and no one knows where she got that from -_-. A family friend also has a daughter who is very dark and already the poor little girl is getting comments from my own parents. She’s only 5 years old for heaven’s sake. Another one of my cousins married his wife who has very dark skin, and I remember my dad exclaiming on the engagement pictures “she looks BLACK and FAT” and made funny faces and I stood there and silently said in my mind “thanks insulting new bride” -_-.

    Speaking of that, no wonder Indians have such as a racist attitude towards black people !! I feel so bad for those blacks in India as they are treated so BADLY by Indians and get called n***** and all that. I saw a video where some African students in Hyderabad talking about the treatment they receive there ! And the funny part, there are so many Indians living in Africa and according to my friend who grew up there, the Indians are very close minded and stick to themselves and will not mingle with anyone outside their group. There are obviously a minority who are open minded, but the majority..no. My question is if Indians do not like black people, why in god’s name are they migrating to a country that belongs to black people? If you hate blacks, don’t migrate and occupy their lands for your own benefits! Not fair game!

    The good thing I do see is that in the US, there have been many Indians marrying blacks, so hopefully this will diminish this horrid attitude towards them. A few extended family members married black people and it’s bringing a new perspective to those who were initially against it. Perhaps we should start encouraging this to completely break this mindset.

    Also here are two videos talking about racism towards blacks in India (one that I mentioned above).


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    • Yes, when they say it to children, right to their faces, that is sinking really low. A friend of mine and her husband dread going home to visit their relatives because everyone asks about their daughter, “How come she’s darker than both of you?” This kid is about 4 now and she’s been hearing this comment on every trip back home.

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      • I’m fairer than my husband and daughter. When we went to India for the first time, I heard the complexion comments from some in laws. I said to them that they were not allowed to mingle with my child if they ever passed derogatory comments in her presence. That was that. I’m her mother and if I don’t stand up for her, who will?

        The weird thing is that my MIL, daughter and my husband are what you’d call “wheatish”. My FIL is fairer than them but his mom(hubs’ grandmom) is the same complexion as my husband. My dad and I are fairer than my mom and brother. My mom and brother are similar in complexion to my MIL and hubs. I mean, just look at the odds of what my daughter(and future children)’s complexion would be. Why is it still surprising to everyone that my daughter is the complexion that she is? Has nobody ever heard of genetics? Did they think that my husband marrying a fairer girl somehow meant that genetics will be magically overriden and the kids will be my complexion?

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  5. I dont think this is going away anytime soon. Atleast now women seem to like dusky men🙂 earlier men also had to be fair to be good looking. WTH happened to tall dark handsome🙂
    Anyway we equate fair with beautiful , till that equation goes away no hope.
    I di stop people who talk this at weddings or if in front of me. all that i have achieved is the bad name that I’m opinionated, rude to elders and they shut up in front of me, and continue when im not there.
    No change at all.

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  6. Unfortunate, but a very sad truth, not just indian’s, I have seen quite a number of people from different countries have such attitude. It is just that most of the indians speak out loud where as others express it in some other non-straight-forward form .
    For the person who is commented about – It is not always possible to speak back to the person or a group commenting on you, it is just draining, and I saw that people get to tease about it even further if they find that it disturbs you, yes, such people do exist. The best thing is to develop a thick skin and not value or aid in such opinions. If it is the person that you interact with a lot does that, it is good to confront and state what it means and how the message gets propagated and hurts them.

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    • That’s true. Chinese are just as bad when it comes to this. I’m not sure about Europeans, but British and Americans also do it in a uncalled manner due to their ignorance as well.

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  7. We do have a long way to go when it comes to being kind and compassionate towards people who are not like us. And who do not live the life we are familiar with. And the staring – Once, I was wearing a salwar that had a pretty big rip in it (I didnt realise that when i wore it) and I was subject to massive pointing and sneering by a group of girls. I was pretty cool about wearing it even when I found there was a rip (coz, whats the big deal, right?!), but the group of girls just couldnt get past it. They called me and told me there was a rip and I said I know, its fine and they told me to do something about it! I have pretty zero tolerance to people butting in others’ business and making rude comments. It is always a good idea to point out to aunties, friends, relatives, random people that it is not nice to always speak everything that is there on their minds!

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    • Oh better yet, if you wear something different than the typical churidar/salwar kameez, you get stares. On one of my Kerala trips, I was wearing jeans and a shirt and boy the looks I got:/. I’m sure I got comments as well.

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      • Yea, jeans and t shirt is my uniform, but fortunately I have gotten immune to staring because of that. I was not allowed in a temple (in kerela, incidentally) because I was in jeans. I was not too intent on going in anycase, but just the hypocrisy of it left a bad taste. Fortunately in bangalore and most of the other cities I have stayed before, wearing jeans is the norm, so life is easy on that front🙂

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  8. This article touched me at a personal level. Being born in a family of lighter skinned relatives,I have always been labelled as “black beauty”. I always feel the “beauty” part was added to make it sound like a compliment. But it never is a compliment. It has left a lifelong scar. I live in the west now and have always had opportunities that many others do not have. I look in the mirror, I don’t feel ugly or dark skinned. When I’m at work or with my husband and daughter, I feel confident and my skin tone doesn’t play any importance for me. Yet, my confidence of not caring about my skin color melts away many times when I am with my relatives. I still get compared with my “lighter” skinned siblings and cousins. Despite getting cultural awareness and education, if this still affects me sometimes, I feel for other people who have to constantly live in such atmosphere.
    Thank you for writing on this topic and thanks Jan for sharing the interview of the youngsters trying to bring awareness in whatever way they can🙂

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    • Shreya, when you are around relatives, speak up and tell them you do not appreciate their comments. Also tell them you are proud of your skin and comfortable in it and feel confident about your looks. I think it’s important for people to hear that – whether they listen/process/understand/change or not – it doesn’t matter. Those words need to be heard.

      My brother’s daughter is adopted – my brother and s-i-l are quite light skinned and my niece is dark skinned. Now there are all shades of people in my family, so even a biological child can be a different skin tone from her parents. However since she’s adopted, my brother and his wife are reminded by certain relatives that if they had had their own, she would’ve looked like “one in the family”.

      My brother has taken quite an aggressive stand on this. First, he (and all of us – mom, dad, sis) tell the person, “She is one of our own and if you choose to continue to make such remarks, you can please leave and refrain from any further engagement with either us or her.” Second, we’ve ingrained in my niece that her skin tone is part of who she is, and every part of her is precious. She is growing up to be quite the confident young woman.

      On my recent trip, I was delighted to see her handle this recurring situation beautifully:
      A family “friend” who did not know she’s adopted regretted (right to her face) that “unfortunately she did not inherit her mother’s skin tone”. To which she replied, “So sad that you did not inherit your mother’s intelligence.”

      I laughed out loud!:) You should’ve seen this person’s shocked expression!:)

      Be confident and don’t hesitate to give it back. Warm wishes.

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  9. Talk about it, Priya. If enlightened people like you don’t, nobody will. I’m the family bi*** because I talk back and shut people up. I don’t know if it changes their mind but the people being picked on need to know that there’s someone on their side. No social change happens if people passively observe this kind of nonsense.

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    • I do. I give it back when they make such comments about my niece (see reply to Shreya’s comment above). My own family (parents, siblings) tend to be pretty vocal on this issue. I’m already pretty unpopular among the major players (my regressive relatives) and I don’t care.

      This newly engaged person – I barely know her – I got the feeling she did not want any more attention upon herself. I wasn’t sure about creating a scene and bringing her to the center of it – I wondered – would that have been patronizing of me to defend her if she prefers to handle it her own way? (I know my aunts – they would’ve made a scene had I criticized them.)

      I do think it’s best to let an adult handle the situation on her own rather than take over. With a child, I think it’s fine to jump in and defend her, but also teach her to start standing up for herself.

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      • Agreed, even if it means getting risked being called “spoiled, undisciplined, horrible..etc” I got those comments the other day when standing up for myself. But it’s key to teach to grow thick skin and not let it affect you, though sometimes it does create deep wounds. Personal experience.

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      • Fair enough. It would’ve looked patronizing to defend her. In such situations, I usually resort to “Is that the only thing you can notice about her? I think she’s awesome!” I dunno if that’s even the right approach!

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  10. I have been judged by my mom’s side relatives, by my husband’s family for being dark skinned. The husband’s grand mother even passed a comment that I don’t look like a brahmin. My MIL let it slip innocently that people are passing comments about my complexion, they just left it to their son and they are fine whomever he marries. I looked her squarely in the eye and said I did not put a gun to your son’s head, we both felt we were a good match and decided to get married. I said it with a nice smile. I also told her that even though her MIL is very fair and good looking, inside she is the ugliest I have ever seen. My MIL had a lot of trouble with her MIL, her MIL used to physically abuse her and even forced her to have 2 abortions 30 years ago. I asked her is this beautiful?
    Beauty comes with confidence, the right attitude, positive nature and humility not with complexion. After my speech, my MIL and my extremely fair SIL were gob smacked, LOL!

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  11. My daughter is dark like me, my son takes after his dad and he is very fair, when we went to india for the first time after he was born, I made sure to give instructions to my in-laws and my parents NOT to pass any complexion related comments in front of my angel. We gotta instill confidence in our kids and never let them get affected because of these stupid comments.

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  12. I’d like to share my own experience. I married into an Indian family that relocated to a Western country in the 1970s. While I love my husband I cannot stand the emphasis on looks in this family!

    I happen to be a light skinned Latin woman, and I can pass for a light skinned Indian Bollywood actress. I have gotten a lot of attention in the family for my looks.

    I was always naturally VERY thin! Then for some reason my metabolism changed. No matter what I do, I’m now very curvy. I eat less than I used to, but now I weigh more.
    My father in law, and now my husband, have put a lot of pressure on me for not being thin enough.

    My husband’s sister has an eating disorder. She is very unhealthy and medically underweight (and looks it) but she gets praise in the family because she is thin—even though her eating habits are far from normal.

    I feel that my role is to be a beautiful doll; a showpiece. With the way the family acts about appearance, I don’t feel acknowledged fully as a PERSON. I WILL be admired and acknowledged…as long as I LOOK a certain way! As soon as I don’t fit the template, I am quietly criticized and made to feel less-than.

    I could cure cancer, but it wouldn’t get my as much approval as losing 20 pounds. This makes me feel terrible. I hate their withholding of approval, and I hate the feeling of wanting their approval.

    To add insult to injury, I (of course) eat less than the men in the family. Even so, I’m meant to eat EVEN LESS because that would mean I would look good (to them). I exercise all of the time. Meanwhile, there is no acknowledgement of the fact that I might FEEL HUNGRY JUST THE WAY THEY DO! It’s “okay” for the men to satiate their hunger, but not for us? Of course, the men can stuff their faces because they have fast metabolisms.

    I hate this. I want to be treated as a human. I don’t believe I exist merely to please others. Even so, just like most women, I want to feel pretty and to be admired.

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    • It’s hard to explain or understand why but – having a “beautiful” (defined in a rigid way) and subservient daughter-in-law is very important for many families – she is put on display for relatives and friends, serving tea with a coy smile, ideally. Think “air hostess” – that glorified waitress of a couple of decades ago? – how they used to require that airline staff must be young, beautiful, and happy to serve.
      Now, thankfully, we have both men and women, young and old, pretty or not, serving us on airlines, but the Indian d-i-l requirements stay solidly in the past. To even have a ‘requirement’ for a d-i-l – like it’s some kind of job description – is laughable, of course.

      You are so right when you say – “I could cure cancer, but it wouldn’t get my as much approval as losing 20 pounds.” Seeking approval is human nature and we all probably do it in some form or to some degree … however there comes a point when we need to curb this response to disapproval. If we feel distinctly unhappy, it is time to ask ourselves some good questions. Is their approval really worth it? Do I really need it to be happy or can I find my own (internal) sources of happiness?

      The only good response to their attitude is – be yourself. Do what you think is right. Don’t explain. Then they will stop expecting you to please them. Be around people who love you for who you are and support you. Avoid anyone who makes you feel down. Since you are exercising and eating right, you are doing your part towards being healthy, so don’t be hard on yourself. And there is no perfect size or weight – if you feel good and have optimal energy, you are fine.To feel pretty, wear the colors and clothes you love, laugh, seek out interesting experiences, do the things you always wanted to do, explore, travel. Happiness and confidence make people look beautiful.

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      • You know, women often follow each other’s examples.

        I attend a mixed sex yoga class in the morning. Since a lot asanas require one to twist, or bend in ways that expose one’s back or tummy while twisting, most women wore salwar-kurtas, with dupatta tied securely for added modesty.

        Needless to say, this was cumbersome in the extreme. I began wearing yoga pants and a T-shirt, because it was comfortable, “modesty” be damned.

        In a couple of months, almost all the women had ditched the cumbersome salwar in favor of comfortable slacks and pants.

        It’s a small example, but I have seen that many women secretly want to ditch restrictive and unfair social norms and conventions, but don’t want to stand out.

        The moment they see other women breaking norms, they follow suit. I have seen this in many settings.

        I was the first woman in my husband’s family to refuse to wear any symbols of marriage. At a family dinner recently, I saw two of my husband’s recently married nieces minus toe rings and mangalsutra.

        I will confess that these small rebellions make me happy.🙂

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        • Interesting observation … we hesitate to break a norm because it can get lonely being different …. but not for long …. soon others join in … setting ourselves free can liberate others too it seems.
          Here’s to many more small rebellions!:-)

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      • Hello Priya, Neha, and MR, Thank you for the reassurance through the original post and all of your comments that my situation is not entirely unique. I have never really talked to anyone about it before–it seems a private issue and also it’s embarrassing to talk about gaining weight.

        I do try to act like I don’t care, and for the most part I don’t. I would love to lose 20 pounds, but I also think that your body changes as you get older. After all, my mother used to tease me because I never put on weight.

        I’m doing all of the right things, and frankly, so what if I take a bit more space now? Why does the patriarchy try to define how much space I am allowed to take up? Why is my worth determined by my looks?

        I truly believe that if I started losing weight by vomiting after meals and the family knew it, they would be a bit concerned but then dismiss it with “it’s okay, at least she is looking good”! In other words, the results determine whether you are doing the right thing, not the process.

        This blog is a wonderful community where at least I can share my experiences with you ladies. Thank you for all of your thoughts!

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    • Speak up, tell them this talk is not appreciated, tell then you are more than a pretty or thin body. If they dont comply ignore, but make sure they know you dont approve. and as for your husband, tell him every body changes, if he likes only the thin you theres not much love, and joy in the relationship is there.

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  13. I agree with everything in this post, however I have one doubt. How does it qualify as judging someone? I mean, saying some one who is within earshot that their mouth is too wide to be pretty is mean. The implication that she is not a good enough bride is horrible. But how is it a judgment?

    I can agree that the treatment of the black men in that video is judgmental as their race is taken as a focal point and judgements are made based on that.

    But how can you judge based on looks? I mean, am I missing something here? I of course know that people are judged based on clothes, and body language and taste and many other frivolous criteria. But I think you are talking about something else.

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    • In India people with darker skin or certain facial features are assumed to be inferior – that’s judging – it’s a racist judgment not unlike how we treat Africans.
      All evil characters in Amar Chitra Kathas have darker skin and wider features – that’s racism.
      I’ve seen lighter skinned Indians in the US ask of some dark skinned Indians (behind their backs), “How did they come to the US?” They’re assuming dark skinned = less intelligent/inferior/disadvantaged/under privileged. That’s judging.

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  14. Thank you for posting this Priya.
    Most “conservative”,”traditional”,”religious” and “good” people in India seem to be utterly heartless, cruel excuses for human beings. Because what you’ve posted is the absolute norm at all weddings and functions. What exactly is the point of taking pride in your identity and culture when basic human decencies are missing? Forget older women, I know of many people my age who indulge in this kind of trash talk. I remember an idiotic, 27 year old boss of mine, who returned from a trip to Tamil Nadu. “People are so dark ya! you cant see one light face. I dont know what’s wrong with them.”

    The hypocrisy and judgement is absolutely disgusting.

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    • Funnily enough I had the same thoughts today. What’s the point in embracing culture and tradition if you are not first of all NOT respected for who you are and are ‘forced’ into rather than enjoying it on your own pace? I got insults where I was criticized/compared because I’m not the “traditional” girl the last few days and how I “ruined” my life. I was told to pass down “tradition and culture” , speak the “mother tongue” fluently and to remain Indian and get rid of all other identities and knowledge I have acquired except for “Indian” thinking.. Well, in a mindset like that, I will not pass down any of that and will shun it all off…sorry, but if the culture and tradition is full of these criticisms, lack of respect, “holier than art thou” attitudes, forget it. Not even worth attempting.

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    • Funny thing is where I am from people associate “blackness” with Indian people. 85% of the country’s population is made up of people of African origin with varying skin complexions from the lightest to the darkest. Most people here don’t think Indians can be light skin or there is much diversity. There is the belief that on black people have that diversity., Its not meant in an insulting way (since we have a lot of dark skin people) But its just the perception and stereotype based on ignorance,. If someone like Aishwayra Rai shows up no one would think she is Indian because she is too light.
      So it is funny to me that everyone sees Indians as dark skin people(or atleast the majority) except Indians themselves lol

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      • True … many people in the US see 95% of Indians as some shade of brown (even many light skinned Indians are seen this way). And if someone is VERY light skinned, they don’t look “Indian” to them.

        But this is what Indians want too, sadly …. they do not want to be seen as Indian. “You are so light skinned, you don’t look Indian” is a compliment. “You look like a gori” – (gori as in European/Caucasian foreigner) – is a compliment.

        Another interesting thing ….. we Indians complain about others’ racism toward us (in other countries) but we tend to forget we are racist toward our own countrymen.

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  15. The staring without even blinking is the worst! I just hate it and on top of that, I have no explanation when my sons ask me why the person is doing it!
    My mom was the dark complexion in a family where everyone else (the women) were radiantly fair. She’s a very strong person so she survived it.

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  16. I fall in category of lighter skinned indian minority in majority of darker, fab skin tones. I have faced nothing but reverse skin-color discrimination ALL my life. Bullying, abuse, name-calling, you name it…I have face it!!!!

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  17. what a deep post. really loved it. many a times ppl dont hesitate to make remarks like “good that kid mom/dad pe gayaa and so is fair/cute” imagine how other parent would feel.

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