I’m A Brown Woman And I’m Tired Of Your White Standards Of Beauty


As winter is approaching, well more like spring here in Houston, you can already see all the “brown” also known as Desi/South Asians preparing to come out of hibernation before the scorching summer comes around again.

Both males and females fear the sun like the apocalypse. It’s that time of the year where Bengali aunties give you random skin brightening remedies for those of us who may have committed the sin of letting the sun love us over the summer. Questions at dawats (parties) about your knowledge of fair and lovely and questions about what tragedy you’re going through that caused you to bask in the outside light. You are told to have stayed home and avoid the possibility of, dare I say, getting “darker.”

It is not only the Bengali community, but all of South Asia that perpetuates these outlandish white standards of beauty, which dates back all the way to the time of the Mughal Empire where the kings and queens were depicted in paintings as much fairer than the common men. Being under the British rule didn’t help that ideology either and some say even the Caste System plays a strong role. “Shada, Fosha,” (white, light) skin was associated with higher social standing, wealth, good health and Bollywood doesn’t help. The movies and songs praise fair-skinned heroines, sometimes even if the actress herself is tan.

I was blessed to grow up with my family telling me that I was beautiful and it never occurred to me that I was deemed “dusky” until I moved to Houston. The strange thing was that it wasn’t just the aunties, but both guys and girls my age that made comments towards those blessed with more melanin. It is beyond ridiculous that fair skin women are automatically deemed more beautiful than someone with any hint of color. How can you base the foundation of your self-esteem on the color of your skin? If you accidentally got left in the sun too long, would you no longer feel beautiful?

At the end of the day, it is your perspective on this ideology, your own skin and taking in the negative or positive comments. I’ve had someone tell me I have one of the most unique complexion they’ve seen to being told that I’m just plain too dark. I adore my skin color. I don’t see it as something that cripples me, but is instead a factor to my beauty. Stop acting like a bunch of vampires and let the sun kiss your skin as much as it pleases (safely, with sunscreen of course). Take pride in your “year-round tan”as I like to say, and don’t wear your skin like a drunken apology.

A poem for those who have been told they are too dark:

When she is told
Her skin is too dark;
I do not hesitate to offer,
That the sun loved her so much
It kissed her more
Than the rest of us