Introduction by Kavitha Emmanuel
The message from the Dark is Beautiful campaign is always simply this: The value and worth of people should not be based on their skin colour. Discrimination on the basis of skin colour IS de-humanizing irrespective of cultural or ethnic backgrounds.
I have had people of varying skin tones write to us about their painful experiences with skin colour bias – from dark chocolate hues to caramel blended, honey-tanned and other sun-kissed shades of brown. It is unfortunate that these beautiful shades of skin are discriminated against rather than being celebrated.
In certain cultures, dark brown skin is considered ‘dark’ whereas in certain others even lighter brown shades are considered ‘dark’. I have even met people who are fair-skinned write to me about how they have faced reverse bias in a culture where people are predominantly dark-skinned. The bottom line is people are discriminated against because of their skin colour.
Ms. Khushbu Mishra was recently crowned Miss Nepal USA, 2014. But what I really find attractive about her is the faith she has in herself – a faith that looks beyond the prescribed norms of beauty. And in her story, she says it right: beauty lies within.
There are so many of you out there reading this and may be thinking, ‘who will crown ME beauty queen’? Please remember that we are more than the sum of our looks. Real lasting beauty involves aspects like simplicity, honesty, integrity, courage, generosity and more!
Crown You Beautiful!
“You are so fair and beautiful, masterni saheb. It is unfortunate that your daughter is dark.” These are the words that were often told to my mother by many villagers we met on our walk to her school, where she worked. I remember wondering why God did not make me as pretty (fair) as my mother.
Growing up with five siblings who are all fairer skinned than I am, I always felt ugly. My neighbors would compare our looks and express sadness, “She is a girl and she is dark. They will have to pay high dowry for her wedding”. I was jealous of my own siblings for being fairer skinned like my mother when I was not. I asked my mother once why I was not fair like her. She replied, “I did not have enough money to eat cashews and coconuts when you were in my womb.”
I was fourteen when I saw my cousin sister smothering her face with baby powder. She would leave it overnight to look fairer the next morning. I learned to do the same whenever I wanted to look as pretty as my mother. In the later years, my grandmother would apply some of her “Fair and Lovely” on my face before leaving our house.
It was only when I went to England for high school, I realized that in the Western world, people paid money to get tanner (exactly opposite of what I had seen back home). That was when I realized that the concept of beauty is always evolving. I realized that one must never forget that beauty lies within.
The need to be fairer to be successful in society is further enforced by fairness cream commercials such as “Fair and Lovely” and “Fair and Handsome”, constantly imposing that a dark-skinned girl or guy should be embarrassed of their skin color. They cannot find a date or a job unless they “acquire” fairer skin. When I stumbled upon the Miss Nepal US contest, I took this as an opportunity to defy the fair-skinned stereotype associated with beauty. Now that I have won the title, I can say with confidence, “BEAUTY IS BEYOND COLOUR,” believe me, I am a beauty queen.
Khushbu Mishra – Miss Nepal US 2014