Skin colour bias has spawned a global, multibillion-dollar industry in cosmetic creams and invasive procedures. Mary-Rose Abraham talks to consumers and campaigners in India about the dangers it poses – and how to stop it
“It starts when children are young: the moment a child is born, relatives start comparing siblings’ skin colour. It starts in your own family – but people don’t want to talk about it openly.”
Kavitha Emmanuel is the founder of Women of Worth, an Indian NGO that is standing up to bias toward lighter skin. The Dark Is Beautiful campaign, launched in 2009, is not “anti-white”, she says, but about inclusivity – beauty beyond colour. It carries celebrity endorsement, most notably from the Bollywood actor Nandita Das, and provides a forum for people to share their personal stories of skin colour bias.
This is not bias, this is racism. There is a whiteness travelling from the US to shopping malls in other countries
I was so surprised when I came to India that your chances of getting married depend on your skin colour
When the patient stops using the cream, the skin reacts and develops rashes – so they start again. It’s a vicious cycle