Don’t Want No Dark, Dark Man…

Avishkar and several other mutineers sent in a story tip from Reuters about a rather unusual wedding complication, so I realized I better post it ASAP, lest I see it in my inbox yet yanother time. ;)

When it came to our color-obsessed culture, I thought it was the girl’s complexion which mattered. I guess turnabout is fair play. Sort of.

Turned down for marriage due to his dark complexion, an Indian man staged a hunger strike outside his would be bride’s house for two days before she finally relented, an official said Saturday.

Didn’t he know they make fairness creams for the new, metrosexual, dark brown man?

Saral Prasad, the 23-year-old groom in eastern Bihar state, said he would not budge from the girl’s village home after she refused to marry him earlier this week in an arranged marriage because he was too dark.
Rajani, 19, changed her mind after two days and the couple got married, Arun Kumar Mishra, a village council official said.
“We were all taken by surprise but Rajani was finally moved by the gesture of the young man and married him,” Mishra said.

Rajani was not quoted as saying, “I just want everyone to shut up and go away already, for Pinter’s sake”.

Most Indian women, especially those in rural areas, often have no choice in matters of marriage, and are coerced into it by relatives and parents.

Yes, of course..we Indian women have no choice with regards to anything and are coerced in to everything we do. Just this past Saturday, at the meetup, I was coerced in to drinking my Madras coffee later than I wanted to, because our poor waiter was so overwhelmed with 26 people ordering at once, he forget that I asked for it. Thrice. Obviously his being an Indian male was why he oppressed me by not sating my caffeine fix. :p And yes, yes…the meetup write-up…it is coming.

99 thoughts on “Don’t Want No Dark, Dark Man…

  1. Maybe it’s me but I get a whiff of pro-female bias in this thread

    What a terrible, awful thing, being pro-female…

    Had the gender roles been reversed, I can only imagine the keyboard beatdown the man would have taken.

    The gender roles ARE reversed on a daily if not hourly basis. Where have you been?

  2. The whole lighter skin preference isn’t just a Desi thing unfortunately. A lot of my black friends tell me that it’s extremely predominant in their culture–lighter skinned black women are wholly considered more attractive. I wonder where this all started…

  3. Re 51: Is this man some kind of nut?

    Maybe Rajani was the village hottie, or maybe this Saral Parshad ( translates to “simple simon” ) was really a simpleton/village idiot.

    btw, mention Rajani and instantly FOBs will think of India’s first TV Star played to perfection by Priya Tendulkar, the lady who always got her way. I never missed an episode. Rajani was huge, perhaps more popular than Ramayan/Mahabharat. Rajani always got her way, whether she dealt with corrupt Electricity officials or berreaucratic municipalty or doodhwala. otoh, this Rajani can’t even deal with a Saral Parshad :)

  4. What a terrible, awful thing, being pro-female…

    I did say “bias”. Nice of you to leave that out.

    The gender roles ARE reversed on a daily if not hourly basis. Where have you been?

    Clearly I meant reversed in this instance. In any case, what’s your point? Because women are more likely to be devalued because of dark skin, we should chortle/yawn when something similar happens to men? I happen to be very pro-female while still believing that men are as vulnerable to insecurity and humiliation as any woman.

  5. oh wow…

    The greatest rap song/video ever created is Big Pimpin by Jay Z…

    i’m cringing. jay-z was plenty influential (reasonable doubt was the ish…heck the blueprint was tight). BUT…big pimpin…

    and no one should be embarrased to have tupac lyrics stuck in their head. ever. RIP tupac

  6. Didn’t he know they make fairness creams for the new, metrosexual, dark brown man?

    Recent research shows that hunger strike for two days yields quicker results than the extended use of fairness cream over the time span of a few months.

  7. Fair in east = I have time and $ for play indoors, no need to work outside in sun. Tan in west = I have time and $ for play outdoors, no need to work inside in dark.

  8. Fair in east = I have time and $ for play indoors, no need to work outside in sun.

    That may be true of fair-skinned easterners, like the chinese etc. OTOH, the stereotypical desi is dark even where the sun dont shine.

  9. That may be true of fair-skinned easterners, like the chinese etc. OTOH, the stereotypical desi is dark even where the sun dont shine.

    Yeah, what is up with that.. I am like that, dark where the sun don’t shine but for some reason lighter skinned where the sun does shine..

  10. Ummm Sadaiyappan @ 63..Prema @ 62 said “where” the sun don’t shine, not when the sun don’t shine…

  11. If she had simply said he was too ugly, would everyone have been happier? More acceptable? More pc? And yes, most tribal women do get to collar a man they fancy and any available priest marries them, there and then..

  12. Couple of weeks ago when I was in India, my relatives were trying to hook me up with a prospective wifey for me. Cousin : “She looks good, but lacks a little colour” Me : “isnt that a good thing? people here prefer the bride to be as light as possible, no?” Cousin : “lacking colour means lacking whiteness, i.,e she is dark” And I thought to myself – the definition of “colored” in America is exactly the opposite of being “coloured” in India.

  13. 55, LL dark C ?

    “mention Rajani and instantly FOBs will think of India’s first TV Star played to perfection by Priya Tendulkar, the lady who always got her way”

    More will think of Shivaji Rao Gaekwad than Priya Tendulkar :)

  14. Um, I’ll back up whoever said “blacker the berry” was an old folk saying—it’s true. The earliest well-known usage of it is probably from a Wallace Thurman novel of the same title, written during the Harlem Renaissance.

    I think a desi version of the saying should be “the darker the powder, the sweeter the Bournvita.”

    And I can’t believe no one’s started hating on Fair and Lovely ads yet.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCsnS4aJ-cY

    Gogol Ganguli, Batman! Look at that mess. The wheatish shall inherit the earth, apparently.

  15. Shalu #52, to add to Kusala #60′s list, here’s a brief, enlightening (no pun intended) film made by an African American teenager about skin color: A Girl Like Me by Kiri Davis. The whole too-bad-he’s-so-dark thing ENRAGES me. Someone please stage a strike that will force the flush of Fair and Lovely cream down squat toilets throughout the subcontinent.

  16. Much as all of us wince at broad-brush pitying generalisations about Indian women not having a say in choosing marriage partners, let’s recognise that our experiences are pretty different from the majority of Indians, who do live in rural areas still, or are recently urbanised, and where letting the kids meet and go out a few times and make their own decision is most certainly not the norm in arranged marriages.

    Why did the bride refuse the “dark” groom only when he showed up to marry her? Because she hadn’t been allowed to see him – a groom would have insisted on a photo at least and would have rejected a “dark” bride much earlier on in the game. Men and women in these situations do have the same dumb standards about skin colour (and women aren’t angels, nor should we be expected to be), but since men are considered the “choosers” and women and their families the take-my-daughter-off-my-hands supplicants, we are more used to men rejecting spouses on the basis of skin colour.

    The only interesting reversal of this I’ve read about is in parts of rural Punjab and Haryana where thanks to widespread female foeticide the gender balance is so screwed up that men must “import” women from Assam and Bangladesh to marry, many of whom are from communities that tend to be darker.

  17. there is an ad on star world for Nivea skin whitening cream for men. the ad is 3 degrees of hilarious…

  18. middle class north india is obsessed with ‘fair’ skin. it seems no amount of education/awareness will eradicate the idea of fair = good/virtuous. infact, hindu scriptures have the notion of kali and gauri signifying the fiery and calm sides of devi respectively. personally, i feel the market for fairness creams for women was/is so saturated that the manufacturers had to create a new market for their products!! so, the men fairness creams etc.

  19. I appreciate the report on this issue. It might be a while before ignorant people realize skin color/appearance/wardrobe/hair/height/race/etc really should not matter. (Of course, in the business world, and other places, clothes and appearance can make or break a career!) Racism can rear its ugly head in any part of the world.

    I happen to be an ABD and always had 1 or 2 racist idiots or fellow students every year in school that would make fun of my Indian name, tanned skin, vegetarianism, Hinduism, good grades (don’t mean to brag or perpetuate any stereotypes. That is another issue!!) etc. I guess the same thing can happen in India. I have a IBD friend who grew up in Chennai and she was also taunted for being a bit on the tanned side by relatives and class mates. (My relatives have also criticized my darker skin tone. It is strange since I inherited it from my mother and she got it from her Father that was loved by all!) My friend is one of the most beautiful and prettiest ladies on this earth. Seriously, she is model material -tall, slim, delicate features, gorgeous figure. Yet she feels she is in her words, “ugly”. She said she was brainwashed by the taunting idiots so much that she can never accept the fact she is good looking.

  20. Women bleach there skin in India… is that shit safe ? I know that even some chapstick will burn off a layer of skin when you apply it, I dunno what bleach does, but it doesn’t sound safe..

  21. preference for lighter skin in a country like india is irrational (setting aside the obvious cultural influences which make lighter skin preferable).

    i’m of north indian descent (well, pakistani) and i prefer the darker skinned women of the continent. consider me an oddball. i think the continent needs a black is beautiful campaign.

  22. To SK #72, some ignorant southies are also obsessed with skin color, too.

    Gori/Kalu consciousness is not restricted to some northern Indians!

    Once a Kannadiga came up to me and told me she could not believe that I was of Andhra/Telegu origin. She said (her exact words), “Telegu people are SO dark. You don’t look dark enough to be Telegu….” I am not making any of this stuff up. I am not creative enough to come up with these zingers. Whatever, I just thought to myself at the time. I could have given her an earful, but I chose to bite my tongue instead. I was unsure of her intentions if she was really ignorant etc, so I sort of just laughed it off at the time.

  23. middle class north india is obsessed with ‘fair’ skin.

    Middle class south India too, for that matter. I’ve heard so many of my relatives give women backhanded compliments like “she’s very nice looking, but a bit dark, you know”, or “she would have been such a pretty girl if only she hadn’t been so dark”.

    But the worst one I ever heard was when my nephew was first born, and a number of people commented on how cute the baby was, even though he was so dark. Ugh.

  24. I don’t know if it is true in North Indian families, but in Andhra families you can have one kid who is very fair and another kid who is dark (which has happened more than once in my family). Just imagine the life of the dark kid in the shadow of the lighter one.

    I think women generally are not too concerned with skin color of perspective mates (aesthetically speaking). I think the chief concern is for the potential color of the future children. However, I think the majority (not all) of Indian men are “turned on” by fair complexions.

    I think the only way this color thing will change in India is when the majority of marriages become “love marriages”.

  25. I was just reminded of an anecdote from an anthropology classmate who heard from a Brazilian friend that in some circles a frequent question immediately upon the birth of a child is: “What color is the baby?”

    Anyone have similar stories in other contexts?

  26. My limited experience in rural India indicates that this is not an untrue statement.
    Limited experience != Conclusions

    Limited means only 13 years in this case

  27. It is so unfortunate that we Indians pay so much attention to the fairness factor of one’s skin. I for one I delighted when I get my summer tan (much much darker than my actual ‘fair’ complexion). It’s great because my tan evens out my skin tone & covers up those annoying dark circles under my eyes. If only India would get off the obbession of fairness creams & took a look at North America where here people are obsessed with TANNING creams & lotions. I have so many white friends who would GIVE anything to have our complexion, who spend hours under the sun in the home of acheiving our dark tans yet emerge badly burned. The same friends who frequently visit those tanning salons in the hope of having a darker skin tone, but realizing how dangerous they are – Cancer causing machines is what they call them. We Indian ARE SO LUCKY to have the dark enviable complexion we do, yet we are so obsessed with bleaching ourselves to conform to society’s version of the norm. The irony: we are so prejudiced against our own complexion one that so many white folk so desperately long for.

    It appears that light and dark people the world over are seeking out the same skin color range — not too dark, not too pale. When someone goes to a tanning booth they are usually seeking a “golden tan”, rather than a dark brown or blackish complexion. Similarly, Indians seem to be seeking a similar “golden hue” (gori), rather than the pasty whites of some very pale skinned whites people.

    White people who go to tanning booths don’t neccessarily want to be as dark as the darkest Indians. Nor do Indians want to be neccessarily as pasty as say – Nicole Kidman. Beyonce with her skin lightening make-up and flattering lighting seems to be the general color both are going for.

  28. Gudia: brua to that. I for one was rejected by an Amereekan Born Chaka Desi, who’s mama said I was too dark. Now, he’s getting his forst divorce after marrying the fair & lovely nurse Mama S. found him. I have to wonder, will I still be too dark since I am still single 5 years later?

    And I heard how unhealthy and pale I look and that I should get some color by an ABCD.

    Whatever happened to 20 Fingers?

  29. To #79, you ask a great question! I am unsure of any fables about a newborn’s skin hue in the Telegu or Kannada circles.

    However, I can recite from my personal experience. After I gave birth to my daughter 8 years ago, a color concious cousin (also an ABD like me) first asked me, “What color are her eyes?…” Now, instead of asking how is she doing, how was I doing, or asking some other polite question, she had to ask that stupid question. I answered her politely but I was seething inside. (The little one was born with Desi brown eyes.)

  30. Some more trash from “liberal,reputed” Al-reuters. In fact, I have never seen an article in Al-reuters on how women by law are not allowed to vote or drive in Saudi Arabia for example,which is a far more egrerious violation of women’s rights. But of course, they take some odds and ends story somewhere in deep rural India to paint all Indians with the same brush. If I go somewhere in the deep South of the US,I am sure we can find many such stories. Strange…but the “liberal” media never print them,for example the burning death of an Indian-origin woman by her white BF which was there in SM just a few days back. Maybe India just oughta buy Al-reuters with our huge forex reserves.

  31. Well, I wonder how many rural village females actually choose their own mates. Even in small town India the pressure is HUGE for a female to marry whom their family has researched and chosen for her. I know several young women who, not wanting to marry, sat through meeting after meeting in their homes greeting a prospective groom and his parents, just because their parents wanted them to marry and instead of rocking the boat, they sat through these meetings just to pacify their parents, but each time the groom left these young women would tell their parents that they didn’t like the guy. So a regular cycle of guys and their parents would come through their houses every month and each time the girls would say they didn’t find them “suitable”. Finally their familes cracked down and told these girls that they better choose one or face the dire consequences. Mothers would threaten suicide and brothers would would threaten their parents that “until she is married, I will not marry!!!”.

    To avoid a huge family war, the girls all relinquished their own personal desires and just married practically the next guys that came along.

  32. @ 25 · color blind on May 22, 2007 03:59 PM the darker the berry the sweeter the juice.

    The first time I heard this was in…..dudes, FAME. When the uberprivileged ballerina was challeging CoCo’s love for the foxy yet illiterate Leroy during a dance class. I get offended when film magazines refer to someone as a “dusky beauty” like they are so progressive to recognize someone can be beautiful and dark. And a lot of times I have no idea why they think the person is so dark complexted anyway. And if they are or aren’t it doesn’t get in the way of the beautiful.

  33. So a regular cycle of guys and their parents would come through their houses every month and each time the girls would say they didn’t find them “suitable”.

    But the very existence of this phenomenon actually suggests that small town women do have some freedom to reject prospective grooms they find unsuitable. If not, there would be no “regular cycle of guys” and the women would be forced to marry the very first guy who came along.

  34. But the very existence of this phenomenon actually suggests that small town women do have some freedom to reject prospective grooms they find unsuitable. If not, there would be no “regular cycle of guys” and the women would be forced to marry the very first guy who came along.

    To some extent. But at the end they were pressured (forced?) to marry one of them, and they didn’t even want to marry in the first place.

  35. preference for lighter skin in a country like india is irrational

    Exactly. For a people who are so overwhelmingly dark-skinned and dark eyed to say things like the following is just laughably idiotic:

    After I gave birth to my daughter 8 years ago, a color concious cousin (also an ABD like me) first asked me, “What color are her eyes?…”
    I’ve heard so many of my relatives give women backhanded compliments like “she’s very nice looking, but a bit dark, you know”, or “she would have been such a pretty girl if only she hadn’t been so dark”.
  36. I had both a fair boyfriend and a dark boyfriend as well. While the fair one was more of gentleman the dark man was more naughty and made me feel complete woman. If i want to live for 100 yrs i would like to have more such dark men but if i wanted to be proud little bitch i would settle for teh humble white dog.

  37. I had both a fair boyfriend and a dark boyfriend as well. While the fair one was more of gentleman the dark man was more naughty and made me feel complete woman. If i want to live for 100 yrs i would like to have more such dark men but if i wanted to be proud little bitch i would settle for teh humble white dog.

    HMF’s theory just proved.

  38. For a people who are so overwhelmingly dark-skinned and dark eyed to say things like the following is just laughably idiotic

    No kidding. And I find it even more risible not just because most Indians have dark skin, but because skin color has so little bearing on anything else. Some Indians just need an attitude adjustment.

  39. For a people who are so overwhelmingly dark-skinned and dark eyed to say things like the following is just laughably idiotic

    People always want what they can’t have. The grass is always greener…………

  40. Ya know, I think the skin colour debates deserve an SM category of their own :-)

  41. I do find it interesting that the Indians who are more visible in Western entertainment are darker than their famous counterparts in BOllywood. Tony Kanal from No Doubt, Naveen Andrews in Lost, that short chick Parminder Nagra(?) from Bend It like Beckham and E.R., Mindy Kaling from The Office, Sarita Chodhury, Kal Penn(not really dark, but not “fair skinned either), the guy from Office Space, and the list goes on. Oh not to mention the infamous Sanjaya Malakar who is pretty dark despite being half white. Aishwarya Rai meanwhile has spectacularly failed in her quest to make it into Hollywood.

    I guess Salman Rushdie is very fair skinned, but then again, look at his face; looks were obviously not a factor in his fame. Padmalakshmi must have either been a major fame whore or a super great admirer of his writing to marry this guy.

    Maybe darker Indians should just migrate to the U.S. for better opportunities in entertainment.

  42. I’m a white girl. I prefer darker skin. I wish someone would address why it is that while “fair” skin is considered appealing in your culture marrying an actual white girl is so frowned upon. We aren’t all tramps, honestly.

  43. why are men taught to demean that which soothes his brow in turmoil or sadness, and gives inspiration and strength even in the best of times?

  44. This obsession Indians have with being fair skinned, what’s the point? So that you can have lighter skinned children? I know the media influences the innocent. Same goes for White people tanning themselves so they can look dark. What’s the bloody point? Be happy with yourself, your skin colour is something to be proud of which gives you your identity.