15 September 2013

The tiara that changes everything.

I'd be freaking out, too! Courtesy of Miss America

I learned that an Indian girl won Miss America via Snapchat (sign of the times). Since then, I've spent the last 30 minutes making sure this was ACTUALLY TRUE.

Let me tell you why this is huge.

The woman is BROWN. You're thinking, "Uh yeah Nincy, we know."

You also probably know that Indians by and large are not interested in staying their skin color. Being dark or brown is an insult. We want to be lighter, we want to be white, we want to be fair. It's an unfair standard that's been part of our culture for centuries and it tears our society apart (especially when 96% of us are not fair).

Dark is Beautiful is one of the many campaigns trying to change this impossible double standard but it's not easy to change something that we've been bred to believe.

Well, Nina Davuluri** has shook the ground.

I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family where color didn't matter. Beauty fades but no one can take your brain which is why my parents only praised my intelligence--not my cute outfit for the day. My parents also didn't keep me from playing outside in fear that the sun would make their daughter unmarriageable. But that didn't keep me from doubting. It didn't keep me from looking in the mirror and wishing I could wash "the brown" off.

The now-Miss America when she was competing for Miss New York.

I was bullied for being dark/ugly when I was 12. It was in India, ironically, and it was the first time I even considered my skin color as inferior. That's where my obsession with fairness began. I would layer on the Fair and Lovely before walking to school in the sweltering heat in hopes of being pretty. Even after moving back home to Texas,  I would steal the turmeric from the kitchen and bathe in it night after night. (Yes Mom, that's where all the munyull went.)

Though the thought of being inferior (and fear of getting darker) is always there, I don't let it stunt my life (Yeah, I sunbathed during my vacation in FL). But I'm hopeful that, with this kind of win for the Brown, my future daughter will never have to think twice about it.

Because Dark is Beautiful. Thank you Nina and Miss America for making that real tonight. I pray that India and Indians all take notice.

Nina is more than just a pretty lady. This young woman is on her way to being a doctor. She's a talented dancer who was battled bullimia and weight before making it to Miss America. She is a remarkable person and this is a definite win for every little girl who's ever noticed that she's different.

You go, girl.

**Disclaimer: I don't know Nina Davuluri. In my brief time researching, I'm aware that she's probably not a perfect person but that doesn't make this win any less encouraging for the millions of women out there who have been told that they are not beautiful or worthy because of the color of their skin. Any negative or harsh comments that don't encourage conversation will be deleted. 

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  1. Loved this, Nincy. My thoughts articulated. :)

  2. You're awesome. I shared your post! :) Keep it up!

  3. I love your article. I myself have been very vocal on this topic and feel very strongly about it. I am a proud, dark-skinned Indian-American woman, and I feel that this wrongful attitude of many Indians is simply ignorance and bigotry at its finest. It sickens me that even EDUCATED Indians today still perpetuate the false notion that fair = more attractive/more superior. If people truly educated themselves about the biological/genetic/geographical reasons as to why some populations of people are darker than others, and that the more melanin you have, the better it protects your skin from direct UVA and UVB rays, and ALSO the fact that since darker skinned people are more protected, their skin has succumbed less damage and stays youthful longer, perhaps things would've been different. But like I said, if educated people still believe in light-skin superiority, what are we to expect from the uneducated masses? Like I always say, ignorance is still ok because one can learn. But to be ignorant AND racist, ESPECIALLY towards your own people is a deadly affliction.

    1. Arati, I wholeheartedly agree with you. Especially after going to India this summer and seeing the double standard in 2013. Most of all, seeing our Bollywood stars succumbing to the pressure and making money off the idea. I hope this is the beginning of the end. Future generations should know that their worth comes from more than the complexion they are born with. Thank you for sharing!

  4. dark is beautiful. .
    hence proved but not recognized

  5. Nice post, and let me tell you... you are very beautiful!


  6. I saw you blog mentioned elsewhere Nincy. And this piece was fantastic. I understand the whole thing from the time of the Greeks with their fair skin arriving in southern India, then to Colonial rule and how that would make people think being fair gives you power. I get that, I just don't get how a nation that lived under colonial rule would say that to eachother. You don't see a white person telling another white person that, I am sorry, your skin doesn't look like cream, it has splotches, so you aren't powerful or whatever.

    People are beautiful because we are all lucky to have been born, without people, without diversity, we wouldn't see the world through the eyes of others and appreciate beauty from all points of view. And for the record, I am a brown skin fan. :-)

    Well written Nincy, I will keep an eye on your work.


  7. Great post Nincy! I am not Indian or of Indian descent but I have been watching the conversation and the struggle regarding skin within certain brown communities. I am happy for Nina and I hope that her big win will inspire women in India who are "struggling" to find beauty within their brown skin.

  8. My thoughts exactly!! Great post! A slap in the face for movie and fashion industry back home which wants to ape hollywood and happily propagates and preys on people's insecurities about their beautiful dark complexions. Only in India will we have songs which praise Krishna and Draupadi's dark complexions and also simultaneously have women tortured and abused for those very same dark complexions.

  9. Beautifully written article Nincy!! I found your blog thru pinterest...you have a new follower now :)
    Keep writing these honest and touching posts!