Mere Pyari Deshvasyom - Indians and Their Obsession With Fair Skin
Would we have felt the same admiration for Aisha in Thattathin Marayathu if the role was played by Shaun Romy instead of Isha Talvar? Would we adore a bald Bahubali or a plump Leela in RamLeela? We seriously need to contemplate on these thoughts. Because digital media is, to an extent, the supreme authority that steers the society as far as beauty concepts are concerned.
In primary school, the fairest girl in class played the princess(who cares, I didn't want to be the princess anyway 😏). My school time dudettes sat in shades during PT periods, so that they don't get suntanns.My cousin drank saffron milk, while expecting, to expect a Fair baby. Well, I could tolerate all those, but not this one - Why did poor Biju Menon have to EAT fair and lovely in Mallu Singh? Unacceptable !
Our beauty concepts have evolved through time into becoming so stringent that it fits hardly 10% of the society. The 80% either tries hard to look like those 10% or accepts that they do not even stand a chance. The rest, let me say, are the most beautiful, most self-sufficient and confident ones.
But alas, we live in a place where Mammotty acted as Vaikom Muhammad Basheer without baldness or atleast the potbelly! Forget human beings, even the Gods are expected to "fit in". Right from Sree Guruvayurappan to Vishudha Chavara Achan and Mahabali, the media has whitewashed our dark skinned heroes.
My biggest beauty issue in school was my broad shoulders (almost manly) and small boobs, forget being too thin. I wanted to look like Parvathy but ended up looking like a palm tree(as per a friend who described me, those days). When in church, I made sure that a shawl covered my shoulders and chest completely. I did it not out of devotion or to look like a decent kulasthree, but out of complex. Yes, inferiority complex gripped me tight and choked the ME out of me. The society had implanted a mini Thalathil Dineshan(Vadakkunokkiyanthram) in me.
When was the last time you felt confident about your looks? Last day? After last haircut? Can't remember?
This is what flows into my mind right now, the lyrics of "Scars to Your Beautiful" by Aleissa Cara.
So when I came to college(JMC; DU), I was bewildered! So many beauties around me! All kinds of them. Some thin, some fat, some with big boobs, others with small ones and they came in all shades. They all looked so composed and graceful despite how they looked to the world. I didn't have just one kind of beauty to admire but a frenzy of them. I was confused now where should I try to fit in? There were too many options for absolute gorgeousness and I was stuck. I realised that these beauties lured me because they were all strikingly different as in one of a kind. They defined their own beauties and didn't try to fake or imitate. This startled me.
"You don't have to change a thing;
The world could change it's heart" Aleissa Cara
You see , this is what happened. Suddenly there was nobody making me feel 'not enough' or 'less beautiful'. Minimum societal pressure. Where the comparisons reduced the acceptance began. Since I became lesser engaged in trying to fit in, I had more time to notice the flawless beauty that I had in me. Whence that happened, I patented it 😎.
"No better you than the you that you are;
No better life than the life we're living" Alessia Cara
But yes, once upon a time I did have a hearty laugh when Kochu Preman got scared of Vinayakan in Chathikkatha Chanthu. And I also remember constantly calling my friend Aaana Mariya. But all that were a long time ago. And now I try my level best to discourage body shaming.
I've realised, it's not that the dark or short or fat or non-binary people are any less beautiful, it's just that - We are too naive to see it! We as a society need to broaden our perspectives and stop letting others suffer because of our unprincipled minds. So, in Chathikkatha Chanthu, Kochu Preman was terrified of Vinayakan not because Vinayakan was any scary but because of Kochu Preman's character's unprincipled mind.
On the bright side, recently the digital media has taken into portraying realistic pictures inclusive of the unsung beauties. Some of them that broke such beauty stereotypes are the CloseUp Ad, Kammattipadam, Thottappan, Kumbalangi Nights, Newton, Photograph, Thondimuthalum Dhriksakshiyum, Aruvi etc. This is highly commendable and sheds hope. But still, poor Biju Menon.