Fair, Lovely, and Shattered

here in Hindustan

beauty is not measured

by resilience

here dark-skinned damsels

brew mixtures of lemon

and curd

and yearn for a milky glow

a bleached, bloodless fairness

that a handsome groom

searches for

layer after layer

remedy after remedy

they look at their lighter counterparts

and say

strip me of this melanin

and grace me with the pallid whiteness

that graces your own skin

here in Hindustan

we associate caste with color

where we have this loathsome

inherent hunger

for acceptance

from a society that screamed

colonizer, colonizer

here in Hindustan

we exist in a pretentious irony

where we worship the mighty Kali

goddess of strength

raven-black hair

lions and serpents at her feet

her divine inky complexion

yet never an example

for the sun-kissed daughters

of our land

here in Hindustan

they tell me to pick

a shade of foundation

three times lighter

scrub gram flour on my arms

to erase my so-called tan

here in Hindustan

we eulogise Bollywood

and its vexing

glorified portrayal

of cream-skinned maidens

here we do not teach our women

that bronze skin

that shines like copper

is beautiful

that tomato juice and banana peels

are no longer the solution

to this age-old problem

here we rarely ponder

why we love another’s complexion

more than we love our own

here in Hindustan

we are fair,

lovely,

and shattered.


Earlier this June, a controversy arose around India’s most favoured, celebrity-endorsed fairness product, Fair & Lovely. In its decades of existence, it has propagated a message of colourism and the necessity – for women in particular – to have the fairest complexion possible in order to succeed in their occupations, find the right groom for marriage, and be accepted in society. Being subjected to this ideology myself, I have spent years of my life trying to scrub away what I like to call a “tan”, and not my natural skin complexion. I think it’s time we stop adhering to a custom that has plagued our society for ages and truly accept ourselves for who we are.


Instagram: @akshhhatha

Cover Photo Source: Deviantart