Sarah Leen_Nat Geo

There are certain stories that are very close to our hearts and of course quiet a touchy subject. Complexion of my skin is definitely one of those. I am not fair but can I still be lovely? Let’s see… 🙂

I am a 27 year old authentic desi girl from Pakistan injected with a high drama quotient and annoying zest for life. Below is a quick insight into my battle with my complexion, the intricate situations I faced while growing up and how I eventually made peace with the colour of my skin.

  1. The Extended Family Outbursts

When I was in 2nd Grade, I heard my two Aunties gossip about my complexion, conveniently thinking I was too innocent to understand a foreign language aka English. Hence, here is the conversation that happened in front of me:

Aunty one begins in Urdu: iskay rang ko kya hai? (what is wrong with her complexion? Read: why is she such a dusky diva aye)

Aunty two: Talk in English and don’t say in front of her!

Me (in my head): I am only 6 but smarty aunty I understand English…

women talking

Another situation had a friend’s grandmother and yet another aunty embroiled in a heated argument leading to the conclusion, ‘…she will be fine when she grows up.’

This didn’t end here, I have heard lots of people worry and whine about my complexion. It’s a typical desi household, everyone loves to rant about everyone else over a cuppa and some biscuits just to kill some time. I have witnessed more debates on the colour of my skin then the promotion of family planning in Pakistan, ‘Bachhay do he aachay‘ which translates to something like, DON’T HAVE MORE THAN 2 KIDS!

I grew up wondering why was I like this? A young mind is always curious and extremely vulnerable. Just like a blank canvas. Impressionable and absorbing everything like a sponge when you should ideally be talking about these problems with your parents for a starter. I didn’t.

  1. The Friends at school

lonely_0Automatically events like the above affected me to a great degree, I stopped talking to kids at school. I would sit alone during class breaks and pretend to read ‘Shakespeare’s Abridged Stories’. Did I like that? Hell no! I would glance up secretly after every few minutes and look at girls eating samosas and giggling on the swings. I wanted to join them but…

I just thought I wasn’t fair enough to play with them. True Story!

  1. The Make-up

heishaJust when you are entering your teens, life is suddenly getting a lot more happening. Your body is changing, your mind is changing and so is the world around you. You suddenly want to win that beauty pageant that you are secretly running for in your sweet little brain. Oh yeah just like Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality!

How do I be a bit less tan and a step closer to my being-fair agenda? MAKE UP! (Confessions of a Teenager).

Icing the face like a cake isn’t the solution but it becomes the last resort to look ‘fair’ and in turn lovely. This is exactly the notion that the multi-million fairness products industry thrives on in India and Pakistan. I would end up looking like a geisha at weddings, birthdays, school events. It wasn’t nice especially when the foundation on my face would turn into patches and go grey after the first hour. Cinderella was lucky, at least she had time till midnight…I didn’t even have that much time!

  1. The DRAMA

Pinnit GalleryWe are full of drama. Everything has to be filmy and extremely over the top just like a typical Punjabi Zoo, I meant household! Whining, sobbing and lots of self – pity!!! Good lord save me 🙂

Will I ever be fair??? (Read: beautiful, sexy and pretty which only fair people can be in our angelic heads). It’s just a vicious cycle but you have to take your route and get out of it!

What happened then, some sort of Bollywood miracle?

I grew up. In three simple words, yes I just grew up.

Read books about slavery and the way black people struggled, watched documentaries and started following famous people who weren’t that fair but still achieved lots.

The defining point was the five years I lived in London. For the first time, I actually came to terms with the fact that I have a wheatish complexion and I needed to embrace it myself first. No I didn’t use any fairness creams or photoshopped my photos, you just need to take the first step of acceptance which I did.

Angry Brown Girl

I love myself but as always I learn my lessons the hard way. I have a great supporting network of family and friends from all races and colours…

Love yourself. Talk about things that bother you! There is always something you can be absolutely brilliant at. This isn’t your shrink talking but just a story of an average girl-next-door.

Today, I work as an advertising consultant for a company based in London and represent my university in London to students in Pakistan along with occasional blogging. I am quiet contend with my life so far. Of course, I am also surrounded by some seriously amazing men who keep telling me how hot I am! 😉 Which is sweet but don’t let these highs and lows control your emotions. Be the hero of your own life and not a supporting crew member.

The Hindu
Credit: The Hindu

Don’t let people tell you, you are too dark, you are too fair, you are too fat, you are too skinny, your eyes are small, your nose is long and all that useless gibberish. Rise above these trivial phenomenons.

Bruno Mars has the right approach and when you find a guy who thinks the same, marry him! 🙂

When I see your face

There’s not a thing that I would change

‘Cause you are amazing

Just the way you are

Be happy. Be kind. Don’t let the colour of your skin define you. You are worth a LOT MORE.

Lots of love xxx

14 comments on “I am not fair but can I still be lovely?”

  1. Woohoo! I couldn’t be ‘fair’ even if I did paint my face like a Geisha. Lol! Reading the word ‘fair’ in regards to a woman’s beauty in old texts (specifically, Song of Solomon…one of my favorite books of the bible) still makes me cringe! Lol! This was beautifully written and definitely struck a chord in me! Thanks for writing!

    • Hahaha!Thank you so much for your heart-felt comment. Brought a smile to my face. I had been wanting to talk about it for a while and am glad I did it.
      One of those things that has to come out. Would be awful if kids feel like this and then don’t even reach out.
      Lots of love x

  2. This is such a relevant topic for me! I am Asian so being “fair skinned” has always been the norm for beauty in our culture. It was (and still is) a sensitive matter for me. I wish the adults in my life didn’t make me feel ugly for not upholding the standard of beauty in my culture. It’s definitely a subject that should be handled more gently with children. Thank you for this post!

    • Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me. I fully agree with you. It’s sad how culture and adults behave sometimes and how significantly it affects a young mind. I would cry, hate myself and secretly dream of being snow-white when i grew up! Makes me smile now but it’s touchy. I wanted to share my story because I knew, it wasn’t just me alone. Lots of people feel this way.


  3. So much pain and yet such a positive attitude towards life. I am in awe of your personality and the way you communicate sensitive issues.

    Loved this a lot. Keep writing hun x

  4. We can be what ever we choose to be, our limitations of ourself are set by our beliefs.

    The more we learn, the more we grow.

    The more we grow, the less we care.

    The less we care, the more we can be.

    • Thank you Ross! I am loving these lines…the more we learn, the more we grow. Absolutely beautiful.

  5. All colors are beautiful. That is why God created them all. I stopped thinking of color a long time ago. All people black, white, fair, dark, red are all amazing. I love them all.And what is most important is the beauty of your heart and mind.

    • Fully agree with you 🙂
      Sometimes I wish I could travel back to that little girl and drill this wisdom into her head. Thank you so much for your thoughts.
      Lots of love and prayers

  6. That was such a beautifully written article. It would be relatable to half of the world which is being crammed up everyday by cruel and silly advertising. It is wonderful to see you raising the topic on a public forum as that could result in imparting your experience and wisdom to those who will otherwise have to learn it the hard way. 🙂
    Also, you might know this already but if you don’t, sharing an article about some sense of beauty entering Bollywood 😀

  7. Hi Cheeni,

    Loved the post.

    It is amazing isn’t it that we live large parts of our lives based on what others want and not what we ourselves want. have you ever wondered what is it that makes us think this way?



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