Miss India Pageant Ignites Backlash About How Whiter Skin Represents ‘Beauty’
By Yimin Huang, 10 Jun 2019
In several parts of Asia, fairer skin is still deemed “beautiful.” It is not uncommon to find products claiming to whiten complexions in this part of the world.
A newspaper’s collage of finalists at the Miss India beauty pageant has surfaced, igniting discussions over the nation’s obsession with pale skin.
A feature from The Times of India showcasing all of India’s Miss Universe hopefuls has spurred one Twitter user to note,
“They all have the same hair, and the SAME SKIN COLOR… So much for India being a ‘diverse’ country.”
Ironically, it also seems that the contestants’ skin tones were edited to look lighter, as other photographs and videos show them to be darker. The pageant is most notable for helping kick-start the careers of actress Priyanka Chopra, who won Miss World when she was 18, and Bollywood legend Aishwarya Rai, according to CNN.
Kavitha Emmanuel, founder of the Indian NGO Women of Worth, explained that the fact that India won the Miss World contest six times could have encouraged pageant organizers to stick to a type more likely to pass Western beauty standards.
However, the issue runs much deeper than pageant selection. The notion of paler skin being more beautiful seems to be drilled into a person since birth, as some mothers would drink saffron-infused milk in the hopes of lightening their babies’ skin. It is also related to the caste system, as fairness historically defined the richer class who did not have to work under the sun.
It is a problem that affects women more, as men are apparently more valued for their financial worth than their looks, Radhika Parameswaran, a professor at Indiana University’s Media school revealed. She saw “skin color stratification and discrimination” as an issue “very much alive” in India.
A 2017 study corroborated her views as it found that more than half of 1,992 men and women surveyed about product use in India had tried skin whiteners. The problem with light skin obsession is indeed a glaring one.
Miss India contestants. They all have the same hair, and the SAME SKIN COLOUR, and I'm going to hazard a guess that their heights and vital stats will also be similar. So much for India being a 'diverse' country. pic.twitter.com/L4yXG0WvRu— labellagorda (@labellagorda) May 27, 2019
[via CNN, cover image via Jade ThaiCatwalk / Shutterstock.com]
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