What is your personal experience as a dark-complexioned person?
I am an average brown skinned Bengali girl. My mom is skinny and has a fair complexion, my brother exactly like her. I look more like my father and neither of us can be called fair or skinny for sure !
While growing up , I never felt that I have a dark complexion. My family was obsessed with my pretty features and they always told me I am very beautiful, other than the few weird aunties who kept telling me to use fair and lovely. I started feeling this derogatory term of being kali (dark skinned) in school but I never gave much thought to it. When I moved to Delhi after my school, I felt it in a very weird way.
I wanted to become an air hostess and I was told that I am too dark for it. I cracked the interview and got through the best airlines of those times. I have been told I don't look too pretty in that red uniform because I am too dark but I loved my job and that uniform and I felt pretty.
When you hear these things on a day to day basis you kind of get use to them. I have bigger issues than being dark. I hated my body, which to an extent I have overcome now but I still find it hard when people compliment me or tell me that I am pretty. When people say that you are dark skinned, it settles down deep within you that you are ugly and its hard to let go of that.
The major changes came in when I joined Emirates as a cabin crew. I still remember the first day of training. I was the only Indian in a room full of 92 other nationalities . I became so conscious about my looks. Turns out that I got a major fan following because people absolutely adore me less for what I am but more because they loved my skin colour and how I looked so young and how I don't have to sit in the sun for hours to look hot.
I do believe beauty is within, but it felt nice to hear so many compliments just about my skin colour. I use to get hit on by a lot of foreigners on flight becasue of my skin colour which was again flattering.
I moved back to India and I heard this really mean comment about myself which I can never forget, above all it came from a very good friend of mine.
"GOOD THAT YOU ARE MARRIED OR YOU WOULD HAVE NEVER FOUND A GUY BECAUSE YOU ARE DARK SKINNED"
This angers me so much that people still judge you on your skin colour but I know I am above and beyond that.
Sorry for the long read mostly venting out :)
Attaching a picture, which of course has a filter because I still don't have the courage to go raw.
I will answer this question on behalf of my friend. Let's call her Shanti.
Shanti was a topper of her engineering department in her college. A quiet , nerdy , dark complexioned girl wearing glasses. She was from a lower- wealthy class family and belonged to a popular business caste of Tamil Nadu hailing from Karaikudi. ( I mentioned lower-wealthy class, as their entire community is awfully rich, so compared to the others they weren't as wealthy! )
Though she was smart, she lacked confidence because of her looks. That is because everyone made her feel that way.
The thing I liked about her was that she was a very pious and sober person. I was the opposite and so we connected well.
She was 22 When her parents started groom hunting. In their community dowry is a mandatory thing.
This is what her father was ready to offer for her marriage: 3 diamond necklaces , 5 Lacs cash, 1 ground(2400 sqft) land in the outskirts of chennai , apart from the gold jewelry and entire marriage expenses.
But, to my surprise not many guys came forward.The reason was my dear friend was "very dark".
I was very pissed when I heard this. Firstly, the girl who is topper and earning well, was treated as a commodity. Secondly, even then not many ppl were willing to marry her because she was dark skinned. No one really cared for the diamond she was. We live in such a shallow world. This was 2009.
Every time a prospective groom's family rejected her, her confidence level dropped.And anxiety on her parents increased.
Finally, a proposal came. The boy was working abroad in Middle East. The family fixed the match.
The boy's family (including grandfather) saw my friend and demanded extra 5 Lacs as dowry as the girl was darker than the boy, and shanti's Father readily accepted.She was not allowed to see/meet the boy, they showed a picture that was taken 5 years ago before he left abroad for work. All her wedding trousseau, including her wedding saris, were purchased by her inlaws she did not get to see/select anything, though her father paid for it.
My friend had to go through so much ordeal just because she was dark complexioned, and moreover the main reason being that her parents too felt that it was some kind of a defect.
She is now married with a child. Luckily, her husband is a nice person. But he is no match to my friend in anyway intellectually. She speaks better, earns better, single handedly takes care of her kid.
But , He looks fairer than her !
Edit: This answer should not be reproduced out of Quora!
I was born as a dusky brown girl.
When my relatives first looked at me they said, "Sab acha h, magar rang apne papa ka le liya warna bahut sundar hoti"
*Everything is good but she is born with her father's color otherwise she would have been the most beautiful girl *
My mother never left any fairness cream to apply on my face. She stopped me from playing in the sun. She asked me to cover my face up whenever I moved out.
My grandmother suggested me to apply turmeric and water paste before taking bath.
I got remarks for having flawless features but in addition people said, "Bas thoda rang aur saaf hota toh tumse khoobsurat koi nhi hota"
(Had you been a little fairer no one would have been able to compete you in beauty)
My fairer girlfriends were made to dance in the first row because of their white looks and I was always seen at the last corner inspite of being a good dancer.
My school used to conduct World Peace Prayer every year consisting of seven speakers representing seven different continents. I being a good speaker was chosen always to represent any one continent but I don't know why it was always Africa for which I was made to speak.
I complained to my family one day that my friends are teasing me as I am speaking on behalf of Africa, but they also mocked me and my color.
I bruised my self- confidence completely that time though I was quite a studious girl. One day I found I was losing my speaking abilities too. I began to stammer whenever I met strangers. I suffered from anthropophobia (Fear of meeting new people ).
I always craved for attention whenever I posted my pictures on facebook and instagram. Whenever I saw my white pretty friend getting 250 likes and 30 new friend requests each day, I feel depressed. Then I came across beauty apps. I installed B612, photogrid and what not to beautify my personality and to fair my looks.
I also wanted boys to run after me, I was 17 that time.
But then my friends started making fun of me in a completely new fashion, whenever they click my picture they sarcastically pass a comment, "Bhai, Ayushi ke liye toh pehle B612 install karna padega"
*Brother, for clicking pictures of Ayushi, I need to install B612 first*
They call me black ant where as my other fair friend as white ant, obviously to bully me.
When I went back home that evening I complained again to my family about this comment on me and this time they didn't mock me, they made me realize my worth.
My dad proudly said, "Your color is a symbol that you are my beautiful daughter and have close resemblance to me"
My mom who used to test every fairness cream sample on my face, made me read the story of Nandita Das and her campaign of "Dark Is Beautiful". That day she took me as I am and stop trying any other cream test.
My grandmother wiped off my tears and said "Meri gudiya kya kisi heroine se kam hai"
(My doll is no less than any heroine)
Facebook and instagram are no more a place for me, I find my home in Quora.
Things have changed for me. Though I was mocked by my family itself, teased by my friends and humiliated in the school cultural programs yet I learned to take beauty not only as a fair physical appearance but a much fairer soul inside out. I started learning to be kind, confident, honest and a happy soul. I started repeating day and night-
"I am not too dark and not too fair, I am chocolaty and people love chocolates"
Conclusion: I was an introvert but now an ambivert. Black is my favorite color. I thank god that my dark circles will not be visible to anyone. I love myself now. I fought back my stammer strongly and won prizes at IIT Kanpur (Techkriti) and IIT BHU (Technex) for my fluent speaking skills. To be honest I haven't stopped using beauty apps yet but I find clicking self-pictures a total waste of time now. I don't want boys to chase me, rather I want to become an inspiration for others.
I wish I could go back to my 13 years old self and tell her that, "Fair is not what matters, it is your karma for which you are known in the history. You are not ugly, you are a beautiful soul inside and just focus on what you want to become in your life. Crave for success to live a happy life"
This is me :
Not long ago my mother showed me a photo album she made me as I was born. There was one page, where she wrote down what the children said, when I was shown to them.
Smiling she showed me the page. It read: "What is this nigger doing here?", in German.
My uncle once ranted in a car how he has seen some Africans going down the street with a kickboard and nice clothes in Switzerland.
"We are paying for this!", he said smiling bitterly. It reminded me, when I was walking down the street in Switzerland with my brother. I started telling him this story:
My brother standing beside me on his kickboard as suddenly a man shouted: "Fucking foreigners!"
I looked around, but he seemed to watch us angrily. I looked at my brother: "Did you do something to him?"
Irritated my brother shook his head. I looked back at the man and we continued walking.
There is this expression: "Why am I always the nigger?" Figuratively: It means the one, who has to do everything. I never really felt comfortable around this expression.
One time a friend of mine approached me with: "What's up my nigga?" I told him I am not his nigger.
There is a dessert called: "Mohrenkopf", which translates as moor-head. It does look like a head of a person with dark skin. However, how would some people feel, if they would come across a dessert in Asia, which is named Cracker's hands?
Most of the time I do not think of myself having any distinct tone. However, such moments make me question how the people perceive me. It makes me even more insecure, when people with blond hair and blue eyes tell me, they never experienced racism and that I should not mind.
I am a Software Engineer for 2 years in a reputed MNC. During my initial days of training in Chandigarh, everyone used to look at me in a different way. Whenever it was my chance to give an introduction about myself, I would hear some comments from the back "All these South people are dark skinned". Most of the North Indians were fair complexioned and I did feel a bit weird among them. The most hypocritical fact is that my relative said "Thankfully you found a guy who is fair complexioned and also he accepted you"(We are getting married soon). I don't get what is wrong with the people. Like everyone else I also have a shade. Here is my picture,
Well, I belong to the northern part of India, where being fair might be (is) very common.
There have been times when I felt embarrassed and miserably annoyed at my school, university and workplace. I hope everyone would agree with the fact that it is not pleasant to face this at all the three major places where I have spent substantial amount/time of my life.
In India, the society is divided into castes and we have reservations too. For those, who do not know what reservation is, let me just break it down. In India, we have reservation (in schools, universities, government jobs etc.) for people who belong to a certain section of society which is said to be underpriveleged and economically backward sometimes. They are classified into as SC (Scheduled Castes), ST (Scheduled Tribes) and OBC (Other Backward Castes) based on their annual income, caste they belong to and few more parameters.
When I was in the 6th standard, there was a new English teacher (let's say Y) who had come from Kolkata. I remember she was one of the finest teachers at my school back then. One fine day, the school's management officials had instructed one of the teachers (let's say X) to make a note of all the students who come under this category so that they can reduce the monthly fees and take some further decisions.
So, the teacher Y knew that I scored the highest in the exams and I stood first but hardly did those things matter when she judged me to be a guy who belongs to SC or ST just because I looked/look dusky.
So, teacher X came to my classroom and made a note of students and before he was leaving, the following happened:
Teacher X - So, we have 10 students from this section who belong to SC, ST or OBC. Are we missing someone? This is the final call.
Teacher Y- Mr. X, I think we are done with this. But, wait, Abhinav, you did not give your name. Why ? ( She did not even had a thought of uncertainity when she asked this)
Me – I belong to the General Category, Ma'am.
Teacher Y- Are you sure ?
Me – Yes, I am. (Speechless thinking how can she be such a narrow minded person who judges someone's caste/category based on the skin color).
When I was in college, many of the batch-mates and professors used to say that I look like a south Indian guy. There is a presumption that is in the minds of people that everybody who's dusky belongs to the southern part of the country. This is so perturbing and must not happen in a college/university or anywhere for that matter.
INSTANCE - 1
One fine day, this conversation happened between a guy at my workplace and me.
He – Hey! I have seen you talking in English only. Why don't you talk in any other language too, sometimes?
Me – Umm, Hahaha. Because everyone talks in English.
He- No, many people know Kannada as well. You must be knowing too, right?
Me- Nope, I don't.
He- Oh! You must be knowing Tamil or Telugu then?
Me- I am sorry, I don't know either of them.
He- Oh, I get it. So, you must be knowing Malayalam and you're from Kerala then, right?
Me- No! I am from the northern India and I speak Hindi.
He- What man ? I am also from the northern India, but you don't look like.
Me ( Wondering when would people stop judging ) – No wonder, this is not the first time when someone thought so.
The other day when I had to go out of office with a co-worker, this is the conversation that happened.
Me- Dude, the sun is really burning today. I am in no mood to go outside.
He- Come on, Abhinav! You're already black. You can't get darker now.
Me- Please stop this! I know I am black and I have problem with the intensity of heat and the irritation I feel when I walk in the sun. Bye!
I think my answer with three instances at three different places pretty much sums up the experiences a person with dark complexion faces (may face or expect to face).
People in India are often seen saying that they oppose racism and stuffs but ironically, they are the ones who practice it on a daily basis too, at least as far as my experiences are considered.
On a lighter note, I am not generalizing this, there must be exceptions too, as the golden rule says.
Thanks for reading! :)