A mother and her daughter talk about colour and confidence
by Pranuthi Bunyan | With a poem by Sanchitha Rahael Sathyadass
As a mother, I have heard people come up to us and make statements such as, “Your younger son has a better colour than the others!” And this would at most times be in front of the kids. It’s ridiculous!
Our three kids, Sanchitha (12 years), Tharan (9) and Vivaan (3) are three different shades. We consciously reinforce to them that each shade is precious–one chocolate, one coffee and one caramel!
Also, we emphasize that God has created each one fearfully and wonderfully and makes no mistakes!
Sanchu, as we call her, is a born artist. She loves to dance and sing and is a part of a children’s choir called “Shine,” and has formed little singing quartet called the “Four-tunes”! When she was in public school, she was sometimes ridiculed by her classmates for her colour. It would make her upset at first.
One time my eldest son was made fun of at school; one boy called him “black Tharan” in front of me. I immediately asked the child if Tharan’s hair and face were the same colour. When he sheepishly said no, I told him to learn his colours better!
While there are people who are around who make senseless statements, there have also been others who have been an encouragement. There was an opportunity last Christmas when the two eldest kids were featured in a music video. Opportunities such as these and focus on their inner strengths and gifts, have been the main factors in developing a confidence that we have seen, especially in Sanchu over the last few years. We hope that the two boys will also develop their strengths and live as confident people.
When asked to write for Dark is Beautiful, Sanchu was apprehensive initially. But when we told her that this was helping to campaign for a cause that it would help bring awareness to several others and help create a world that is free of discrimination on the basis of colour, especially for the next generations, she cheerfully agreed! In a matter of minutes, she said a little prayer and had the poem thought out, typed out and formatted!
Amazing this way
by Sanchitha Rahael Sathyadass, age 12
Black or white,
Red or blue,
We are the same,
And that is true.
Face washes and soaps,
Make you think that
You should glow.
Washing your face
And applying cream
You look amazing
Just this way,
Cause dark is beautiful,
And that’s what we say.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WOW’s petition on Change.org against Fair and Handsome ad garners a one on meet with the top brass of EMAMI
January 18th, 2014, Kolkatta — Women of Worth (WOW) , the Chennai based NGO behind the Dark is Beautiful Campaign, was invited today to a one on one meeting with Mr. Mohan Goenka, Director of Emami Group.
This was in response to a petition drive on Change.org against Fair and Handsome ad which has garnered more than 25000 online signatures from across the length and breadth of the country and even from many countries across the world, notably Pakistan, Middle Eastern countries, a few African nations, USA, Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and UK.
At a closed door meeting in EMAMI’s headquarters in Kolkata with Mr. Goenka, Director, EMAMI and Ms. Mahasweta Sen, GM, Corporate Communications, Ms. Kavitha Emmanuel, Founder Director, Women of Worth, requested EMAMI to consider removing the Fair and Handsome advertisement from television screens, hoardings and magazines. She further challenged Mr. Goenka to lead the change in the current trend in fairness–products marketing and make a difference by addressing the issue of skin colour bias in the nation head on.
In response Mr. Goenka said that the advertisement will continue as they are meeting a need in the society based on their market research. He believes whitening is a global phenomenon and a trend and changing mindsets might be impossible. During the discussion he stressed how preference for fair skin has been there for generations and changing it now did not make sense. When quizzed about the 25,000 petitioners who are saying that the ad is discriminatory he said, ‘in a country with billion people I cannot answer every individual’s petition!’
“If people want to be like Shah Rukh Khan, there is nothing wrong with it. If they want to be fair, it is an aspiration,” he said. Ms. Mahasweta Sen added that ‘if the cream is helping people be more confident, what is wrong with that?’
Talking about the future of this campaign, Ms. Emmanuel added, “We hope that brands and brand ambassadors will listen to the united voices that are calling for new attitudes and new products that appreciate and celebrates the diverse skin tones in a land of 1.2 billion shades of skin. The campaign will continue to address the issue of skin colour bias and tackle unfair advertising practises with the Advertising Standards Council of India and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.”
About WOW: Women of Worth (WOW) is a network empowering women to be agents of change. Based in Chennai, WOW trains students in soft skills such as media literacy, gender issues and personality development. WOW initiated the “Dark is Beautiful” campaign in 2009.
Media Contact: Lydia Durairaj , +919940358429
By Kavitha Emmanuel | Director of Women of Worth
|Design Props: 6 pm Designs
Celebration has always been the mood of this campaign!
While we battle toxic notions of beauty based on skin colour we need to remember that celebrating who we are is the first step towards bringing about change in our environment. This has always been our underlying emphasis – to celebrate people for their innate worth and value.
|Photo by: Anu Anna Jacob
Looking back at the year gone by makes me wonder. We have done a lot as a campaign, but have we actually made a dent yet in expunging the belief that fair skin alone is beautiful?
I am grateful for all the attention this campaign has received. But I believe we have a long road to tread. And the walk begins in our own homes.
It begins with us, our parents, our grandparents, our in-laws, and others who influence our choices and lifestyles. It begins with us choosing to not judge people based on skin colour, or use hurtful nicknames, or compare siblings of different skin shades, or choose your life partner based solely on his/her skin colour.
And if you witness someone judging or being hurtful because of skin colour, don’t shy away from a conversation that would challenge them to think differently.
Please remember that while we battle this toxic belief, our values are what steer our actions. Here are a few:
- We value all people based on their innate worth. Skin colour, physical features, caste, social standing or ethnic origins do not determine a person’s worth
- We believe in showing our discontent or disapproval in a respectful and peaceful way
- We do not believe in or approve of violence, vulgarity or unethical practices to achieve the campaign’s goals.
- We do not believe in judging people for existing attitudes towards skin colour but would like to promote change of attitude through discussions, dialogue, petitions and partnerships
- We are on the look out to build bridges rather than to burn them. We are always open to connecting, networking and partnering with individuals and organizations who seek to lead the change
- We believe in building unity in diversity and endorse the celebration of all skin tones from white and wheatish to dark and dusky.
While the Dark is Beautiful team continues to make plans to address the issue from different fronts, we request your continued support. We will be meeting with Mr Goenka, Director, Emami, to discuss our petition response on January 18th 2014. While we do our bit, we look to you, our supporters to be our voice from wherever you are.
You could host a DISB party, a doodle hang-out or a petition drive in your neighbourhood – anything to keep the discussion going. Continue to tell us your stories, your struggles and challenges. Do stay in touch with us and dare to be colour blind in your circles!
So this year, let’s plan to celebrate ‘beauty beyond colour’!