Not Fair and Lovely by Dhristi Raval

I will never be Fair and Lovely.

 

When I was 9 years old, 

I wanted to be a Bollywood actress, 

I was young and excited to pursue my dreams, 

But little did I know they would come bursting at the seams.

 

One day someone told me, 

That despite my talent, 

I would never be successful in the acting field,

Despite my naivety and innocence she revealed, 

That nobody wants to watch a dark actress.

She handed me a bottle of Fair and Lovely.

 

Fair and Lovely is a popular skin lightening cosmetic product, 

A million dollar industry,

For young Indian girls, 

Looking to be accepted.

She told me, 

This will make the boys love you.

 

When I was 10 years old, 

I would cry in front of the mirror, 

Because despite the globs of Fair and Lovely I scrubbed on my face, 

This brown skin was still an utter disgrace.

 

I will never be Fair and Lovely.

 

When I was 11 years old, 

It was Halloween and everybody was dressing up, 

I told my friends I wanted to be Cinderella, 

My best friend looked at me and laughed, 

She said, 

“You’re not good enough to be Cinderella,

Maybe you can be Jasmine instead.”

 

When I was 12 years old, 

A kind woman told my sister that she will be a Bollywood actress one day, 

I asked her why she never said that to me, 

She laughed at me and said, 

“Because your sister got the better gene,

She is light and beautiful.”

 

When I was 13 years old, 

A white girl told me she wanted to tan, 

She wanted sun-kissed skin, 

Her mom told her, 

“No boy in this world, 

Will ever fall in love with a pasty girl.”

 

They go to tanning salons, 

And yearn for the sun-kissed skin, 

Yet simultaneously, 

I look down upon my own darkness.

 

I am tired of always trying to look beautiful, 

To make other people happy,

I am tired of looking at white women, 

And constantly wanting to look like them,

I am tired of subconsciously but also consciously comparing my skin color to my friends, 

And wishing I could be just like them, 

I’m tired of always feeling so sick and tired.

 

When I was 14 years old, 

I learned to fall in love with the color of my skin, 

I finally learned that the melanin in my skin, 

Will never define me. 

 

I am dark, 

And that’s okay,

It’s okay that I have imperfections, 

It’s okay that I will never be as light as the other models, 

It’s okay because I am my own kind of beautiful.

 

Today I understand, 

That to be brown, 

Is to be beautiful, 

To be breathtaking, 

And to be benevolent. 

 

I shall wear my skin with pride, 

Because there is so much beauty, 

In how my skin glows under white lights, 

In the way my dark skin makes me unique, 

And in how I will never be just like everybody else. 

 

And one day, 

A boy will love me, 

Not because of the color of my skin, 

But regardless of it.

 

I will never be Fair and Lovely,

Actually, I will.

 

I will be fair, 

Because I am honorable and just,

I will be lovely, 

Because I will make people feel special, 

But I will never be merely Fair and Lovely, 

I will be so much more.