'Dark is Beautiful' movement by actress Nandita Das
MUMBAI, October 29, 2013 (AFP): The new poster girl of the "Dark is Beautiful" campaign, Nandita Das,
has called out India's obsession with fair skin -- a prejudice she says
has driven some young women to the brink of suicide. "Magazines, TV, cinema -- everywhere being fair is synonymous with being
beautiful," Das told AFP.
Described as having "dusky" skin as opposed to a fair complexion, the
43-year-old is well used to Indian preoccupations with color, and not
just in the film industry, where she has refused requests to lighten her skin for roles.
"How can you be so confident despite being so dark?" is a question
regularly asked of Das, who has preferred to star in unconventional,
issue-based films but says she would struggle to get ahead in mainstream Bollywood movies.
In May, Das became the face of the Dark is Beautiful campaign,
launched in 2009 by activist group Women of Worth to celebrate "beauty beyond color".
Her backing has helped to generate increasing debate in the media, but
the response has underlined just how ingrained the preference is for
fairer skin, which has long been associated with higher social classes and castes.
"I started getting tonnes of emails from young women pouring their heart
out about how they were discriminated against. Some wanted to commit
suicide because they couldn't be fair," she said. Das found her own photograph had been lightened by a newspaper even for
a feature on the campaign. When looking for a nanny, she was told one
candidate was "good, but quite dark". Source: AFP