Let’s single out actresses: to make it big in Bollywood, the first characteristic an actress needs to have is fair skin (funny, you’d think it’d be acting chops). How is any actress going to succeed if she’s not perceived as attractive?
According to Indian mindsets, beauty is synonymous with light skin; so what if the population has complexions ranging from light honey to midnight dark? So what if many of those women who are deemed beauty icons are exceptions, not the rule?
People are still going to fawn over them while hating their own brown skin; women are still going to be told by the media that they should aspire to become like those women by bleaching their skin (the risk of getting cancer has never been more worth it, amirite?)
There is not a single leading actress in Bollywood today with dark skin.
The one or two who do have a darker hue are not anywhere near the top of the Bollywood food chain, and even they face heavy backlash for not being ‘good enough.’ While actors tend to be somewhat more tan than actresses, you’d be hard-pressed to find a major actor with dark brown skin. You will, though, find a few dark-skinned actors who are usually portrayed in negative roles. What a coincidence.
I now open this up to Bollywood execs. I pay to see your movies, I admire (a lot of) the work you put out, I even write about your films; as a consumer, and as someone of Indian descent, I want to know why I can’t see myself in any of your characters. Why do your songs tell me that to be fair is to be beautiful?
More importantly, why should I, or any other brown-skinned person, continue to glorify an industry that demeans us, that tells us we’re not good enough simply because they said so? Who are you to decide that we are in some way inferior to people with less melanin on their skin? And until when will you keep feeding this bullshit to your own people?
But hey, it’s probably all justified. Maybe only fair people are born with all the acting talent in India. Maybe it’s just an unfortunate coincidence that dark Indian people are completely sidelined from their country’s leading form of entertainment.
Bollywood executives know better than us, because they’re supposed to be the professionals…right?