Archana from Delhi shares her story.
“I am from Himachal. A Pahari. Every knows that Pahari girls are fair skinned. But I am brown or ‘Kaali’ as world calls me.
I learned at a very young age that fair girls ARE beautiful. I wanted to be beautiful. So when I was 10 or 12 yrs old I started applying a lot of talcum powder to appear white. One summer afternoon, I was playing with my friend and started to sweat, the powder came off and my friend looked up and saw my brown skin. She sniggered, “Look at this fake, such a talcum powder kaali she is! She wants to be fair and beautiful!” And then she laughed out loud. That incident followed by several in school and college made me believe that brown was not beautiful.
I was teased relentlessly through out my school and college days. I hated my skin colour and my life. I used all sorts of fairness creams. Thank God, my dad wasn’t super rich else I would have gone for skin peeling at the age of 16 or 17.
Nothing was exciting, not the first day of college, not even when someone professed love. I knew they had been rejected by all the beautiful, fair girls and that’s why they were now approaching me. Why would anyone love a kaali?
My being brown and not beautiful followed me everywhere. I was picky about the colours I chose. I love bright colours but never dared to wear them. I still remember the first time I bought a bright yellow salwar kameez. After I bought it, I was worried – what if someone says that yellow doesn’t suit kaalis like me?
My skin colour even followed me to my first internship interview. I am an engineer by profession and was at a major telecom company for an interview. I walked into the restroom, cribbing about my colour to one of my friends on the phone. A lady there overheard me and said, “People with brown skin have far better features. Brown people are more beautiful.” I smiled.
That evening I looked at myself, I realised I have really big and beautiful eyes and a super cute smile and I am not bad at all. It took me several years to love myself completely. Now I feel beautiful not because of my big eyes or my smile but because of who I am.
Right now there is one person in my life who calls me Kaali, my daughter. She says, “Maa, you are beautiful but Kaali”. The struggle is real and it is still on.”