Why Do Indian Men Favour Women With Fair Skin For Marriage?

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By Namrata Arora Last Updated:

Why Do Indian Men Favour Women With Fair Skin For Marriage?

In India, many people associate being fair with being highly spiritual, innocent and pure. And however forward thinking the nation might claim to be, there are still a large majority of people in the country who favour fair skinned brides for their sons.

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This mentality or tendency is being seen more in well to do and highly educated families who otherwise show how broadminded they are. Call it being orthodox or succumbing under society and its pressure, but this horrible trend still manifests in the country. So here is a write up that helps us get a better understanding of this disturbing trend -why does this situation arise, who promotes it and what are its repercussions.

The definition of a beautiful Indian woman according to most Indians

Be it a Bollywood song that starts with the line ‘goriya re’ or a general conversation between two common people, while describing a beautiful girl, the term gori (fair) is used as the first word always. ‘’Ladki badi gori chitti thi’’ or ‘’gori, patli aur sundar thi’’ are the sentences you hear if asked how the girl looked. So obviously, a dusky tone or someone even darker than that can easily be categorised into being ugly. In arranged marriage scenarios, girls who are not fair have to go through the humiliation of meeting groom over grooms only to get rejected by men who themselves aren’t even close to the idea of a prince charming themselves!

Also Read: 9 Common Things Every Indian Bride Thinks First Day After Her Wedding 

Why does this situation arise?

#1. The big role played by media 

Image Courtesy: Fair & Lovely TVC

Fairness cream brands endorse their products in the most ridiculous possible ways. They claim that only if girls use their products and become fair will they be approached for marriage or get good jobs. And if this wasn’t enough, they rope in famous celebrities to be their brand ambassadors and the fan following of those stars who want to be just like their favourite celeb feel a certain kind of pressure and get influenced to do the same.

Even celebs can't help it: Checkout 6 Dusky Bollywood Divas Who Went For Skin Lightening Treatment

A user on Quora while blaming the media says, 

"India actually markets and sells beauty products meant to make women fair. "Fair and lovely" and "Fair and handsome" skin creams which are essentially bleach, are multi-billion dollar businesses.’’

#2. Matrimonial ads

Image Courtesy: Banjara's Advertisement

Image Courtesy: Banjara's Advertisement

Newspaper ads that come in the matrimonial section are full of people looking for fair and beautiful brides. Very rarely will you come across an advertisement that says they just want a beautiful girl who doesn’t necessarily need to be fair. Why is such a thing promoted? Why are such advertisements not banned? Well, clearly because that’s how everyone favours it! For instance, ads such as “looking for a fair, tall, slim, beautiful, educated and homely girl for tall MBA boy, running his own business.” are wrong at so many levels.

Just to ease off the mood: Read 7 Hilarious Terms Commonly Used In Indian Matrimony Ads That Only We Can Relate To

#3. How it is a matter of pride for the family

Image Courtesy: Saat Phere: Saloni Ka Safar

Image Courtesy: Saat Phere: Saloni Ka Safar

People nowadays want to show off the new bride. It’s a matter of pride to them to have got a fair and beautiful bride for their son and a matter of disgrace if she is dark. Because according to them, dark skinned women aren’t pretty.

Another reader on Quora explains it in three points by saying: 

  • Showoff to make guy friends jealous. 
  • All ads show that fairness = beauty. Men are sort of brainwashed. 
  • The daughter-in-law needs to be a show piece before all relatives (just as income of men is a "measure" for Verma aunty and Sharma uncle)’’

#4. The children will be fair too

Image Courtesy: Heyy Baby

Image Courtesy: Heyy Baby

And how can we forget the children? If wanting a boy wasn’t enough, he should be fair too! Even if it’s a girl, she has to be fair and for that it is important they get a fair bride! Sad state of affairs but nonetheless true!

What happens if the bride is dark toned and the groom is fair?

Well clearly for a lot of families, this is just a very unacceptable situation. Even if the guy’s complexion can be compared to the dark of the night, his bride must be as fair as milk. Again, Bollywood and the media play a big role in creating this mentality because of which, girls with a not so fair skin tone suffer.

#1. They get ill-treated

Image Courtesy: Laagi Tujhse Lagan

Image Courtesy: Laagi Tujhse Lagan

That for a fact is true, even in the most influential and educated families. Not being of certain expected skin tone makes the girl a soft target, a punching bag for everyone to use and a scapegoat. And all of this just because she is not fair and so, is not beautiful or doesn’t match up to the society's expectations!

And in some unreported cases, burnt too: Indian Bride Burnt Alive By Her Husband And In-Laws Because She Was Dark

#2. They are forced to look and dress up a certain way

Gif via Giphy

Gif via Giphy

To compensate for the not-so fair-skin tone, the families pressurise them to wear a lot of makeup, dress up all the time and be presentable as to their preference. This is a constant pressure dark skinned girls have to live under especially when their parents are looking for a match for them.

#3. The parents are taken advantage of

Image Courtesy: Saat Phere: Saloni Ka Safar

Image Courtesy: Saat Phere: Saloni Ka Safar

And if and when they do get married, many families who favor dowry and exploiting the girl’s family, use her complexion as an excuse to extract as much as possible from the girls parent. If their demands are met with, the girl is mentally tortured less than usual.

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We feel that the generation of today is evolving to bring about a change in the orthodox and cruel thought process of favouring fair skin over not-so-fair, but the process still seems to be very slow. Only if it is true love, it conquers the barriers of caste, colour, age and religion else, the state of affairs in this area still seems to be slow and sad. What are your views on the same? Feel free to share them with us in our comments section below for a healthy and progressive discussion!

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