Issues

The Brown and the Beautiful

Brown people love drama, hey.
You never see those ‘doom doom tananas’ going out of style on our shows.

We also really love beauty.
But what Indian culture really loves, is Eurocentric beauty.

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So what is Eurocentric beauty?

It’s when being beautiful is defined by looking like a white person. Look at the features of our most loved celebrities; when they don’t have light eyes, they have light skin. And placing Eurocentric beauty over any other ethnicity, is racist.

In Bollywood, Aish and the Kapoors (bless their souls), are the prime candidates; with Katrina coming in right after (her mom is white, I may add) and the rest, with slim noses, thin bodies, straight hair, and light skin, follow suit.

Come crying “but Rani Mukherjee!” to me and I will glare at you with her big green eyes.

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There are exceptions, especially in vintage Bollywood (Rekha, Madhubala, Jaya Bachan, we salute you) but for the majority: the more a brown girl looks like a white girl, the more beautiful she is seen to be.

Celebrities become role models; they are the shining beacons of humanity – that’s why they are called stars. If the stars we look up to, follow a standard of beauty set by one particular ethnicity, then where does that place us?
– At the bottom of a hierarchy.
This is where colonialism has left us.

These ideals connote that someone who has an element of white beauty is somehow better than the rest of us down here at Bangladesh market.

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It comes from the ancient belief that what is white, is better. As George Orwell put it, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Behold! The remnants of colonialism that we ourselves continue to perpetuate, long after colonialism has ended. It’s a really, really, low-key way of agreeing with Hitler.
This is a systemic racism; it’s something that becomes culture, and therefore ingrained in us. Eurocentric beauty is simply one part of the whole idea, that whiteness is the norm.

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Such racism decides what is good without questioning what goodness actually is.
It defines a value for us over which we have no choice – and it is unjust.
THE DAMN CREAM LIED! Being fair does not make a person lovely.

Favouring an Indian person who looks like a white person, over an Indian person who actually looks like an Indian, is a way of choosing white people over brown people.
And it’s brown people who do this.

When potential brown mother’s in law “Look for girls” for their sons,
the ideal girl has fair skin; but add green eyes and brown hair to this mix, and a regular ‘girl next door’ suddenly becomes special because of her pre-determined genetic composition. They’re not just looking for a girl – I could walk out on to the road right now and point out five young females to you who all classify as being “girls,” no, they’re looking for a certain category who are supposedly good enough.

That’s basing the value of a woman’s beauty – let alone her human value – on Eurocentric ideals; and it is a value often decided by another woman who comes from an entire ethnicity, history, and community that does not match these ideals anyway.

Girls with light eyes and skin are treated better than girls who don’t have these features. If you are a brown person, you will see this happening in your lifetime. You may even believe it’s right.

So understand this here and now:
Having any element of whiteness does not make you better.
Years of civilization have come together to create the being that is you.

Be proud of brown skin, hairy arms, big noses, and curly hair.
Be proud of your unique characteristics.
If beauty was only ever one look, ;
it means that the common idea of beauty, is the same as being average.

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From Nejma, by Nayyirah Waheed.

1 thought on “The Brown and the Beautiful”

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