Thursday, March 31, 2011

Indian film stars vs regular Indians

In a recent discussion in the comments section of this blog, it was mentioned that "... Indian actors and actresses don't look like Indians... they might as well be another race."
It was also pointed out that while a Tamil like Kema Rajandran might have some difficulties finding modelling work in Australia, it wouldn't necessarily be easy in India either, given that country's overwhelming preference for light skin.

Coincidentally, this story ran in the UK's Daily Mail this week as well:
'You never see dark-skinned girls in TV ads': India's top models on how the country's fashion industry STILL champions fair skin

Two top Indian models have spoken out against what they believe is racism against darker-skinned women in the country's fashion industry.
Dipannita Sharma and Carol Gracias say they are losing out on top jobs because an increasing amount of Indian designers are casting lighter-skinned models.
Ms Sharma said that the whole country was so 'obsessed' with fair skin, that a shift in attitude would take years.
The 35-year-old, who is also a television star, told The Telegraph: 'It's not just the fashion industry, India per se is obsessed with white skin. We will take another hundred years to completely get over it.'
She continued: 'The industry doesn't openly agree that preferring foreign models over Indian models just for the skin tone is racism. It has some kind of fairness obsession. One could have understood, if it was about getting supermodels of international fame or to work in India but that's not happening, it's just they want fairer skin on the Indian ramps.'
Ms Gracias echoed her fellow model in an interview with the Hindustan Times. She revealed that she makes just $1,000 per runway show compared to top international models like Kate Moss and Adriana Lima, who can command between $20,000 and $150,000.
She explained: 'The major reason for this wide gap is that Indian models are not valued so much when it comes to commercial projects. You never see a dark-skinned girl on TV ads and that's where the lucrative work is. Everyone uses fair-skinned girls, people use skin-lighteners like Fair and Lovely. I don't - maybe I would have been fair and lovely by now.'
Pranab Awasti, of Delhi's Glitz Modelling agency, attributed the controversial issue to the country's 200-year history under British colonial rule. He told the Hindustan Times: 'Indians in general have that inferiority complex, we have had a hangover about fair skin, since the British left India. The idea of fairness is an Indian concept and it needs to change. It is an inherent thing in Indians to see white as beautiful and black as ugly... we have this concept in our minds that only fair-skinned people can be models.'
Others argue in an industry that worships size-zero, skin colour is not an issue and most local models are simply too curvy to make the cut.
Runway choreographer Tanya Lefebvre said: 'The girls are not tall enough and have varying body shapes.'
Skin lightening controversy is not new for the Indian fashion industry. Editors of Elle India were accused digitally lightening the skin colour of Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai Bachchan for the magazine's December 2010 issue, reigniting the decades-long debate.
Ok, so for context, here are photos of Sharma and Gracias. Given your knowledge of what Indians look like, would you class them as "dark", as Indians go?


Because in the Indian context, they are considered dark. Too dark.

A couple of points about the article. I disagree that the obsession with fair skin is related to British colonialism to any great degree. Preference for "lightness" does not equate to preference for "whiteness". It's far older than British rule and has its basis in the caste system. The conquerors of India have historically come from the north (Indo-Europeans, Muslim Moghuls), and the darker tones of the Southern Indians have acquired a negative association, enshrined by caste. It is probably overlain with an element of the same colour prejudice that occurs in East Asia, which is related to social class and occupation (dark skin = tan from working out in the sun = being a commoner).

Realistically, the likes of Sharma, Gracias and Rajandran are not really dark, when one considers the diversity of phenotypes across India. They are probably in the middle of the skin tone range. The ideal look for Indian celebrities is at the pale end of the spectrum. Male actors can to some extent get away with a degree of swarthiness that females can't. Still, in a country with significant prejudices against its Muslim minority and hatred towards its Muslim neighbour Pakistan, some of the biggest male stars of Bollywood are Muslims (Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan), and I wonder how much that is related to their "Aryan"-ness.

I thought it'd be a nice experiment to compare Indian actresses with regular Indians. To show the contrast most clearly, I've focused on Tamils, who are from South India (and Sri Lanka) and are one of the darker-skinned ethnic groups in India. Yet if you looked at Tamil actresses, you might think differently. These images are from http://www.tamilactresses.net/:


By contrast, these are the first 15 images I found from googling "Tamil people". This is obviously not any kind of rigorous scientific study, but the contrast is obvious.
But these swarthy average Tamils need not fear. Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan is here to help.

Those ads made me want to vomit. I prefer this one (a spoof of the second ad):

I've written more about this issue in this earlier post:

42 comments:

  1. I am of Indian origin. I have told other Indians that I will put up with this crap and visit India as long as they do not hire white Afrikaans females from South Africa. When they do that, the deal is off and I will never patronize anything Indian. It would be an insult to all Indians who struggled and gave their life in the fight against apartheid!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Realistically, the likes of Sharma, Gracias and Rajandran are not really dark, when one considers the diversity of phenotypes across India. They are probably in the middle of the skin tone range.

    yes. i saw that article, and that's what i thought too.

    I am of Indian origin. I have told other Indians that I will put up with this crap and visit India as long as they do not hire white Afrikaans females from South Africa. When they do that, the deal is off and I will never patronize anything Indian. It would be an insult to all Indians who struggled and gave their life in the fight against apartheid!

    your fixation on south african females sounds prejudiced. you've done this before on this blog, no? i am aware that many afrikaners are bigoted, and this has been an issue in perth. two wrongs don't make a right.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "two wrongs don't make a right."

    Guess you have not lived as an Indian in South Africa. This attitude among the Indian rulers (of which there were many, Hindoos and Moslems alike, and Christian too in Kerala), eventually resulted in the British taking over India. That is the same thing happening with the fashion industry in India.

    Actually, I really dont give a hoot about fashion..does not help the common man in anyway. However, as some Christian preachers will say, a small sin becomes a big sin and the big sin kills! If we let fashion industry get away with it, next will be the Agriculture industry (which is full of whites but have no technological progress to show for in the past twenty years or so), the US Army Corp of Engineers (all white people in positions of power although other groups, particularly Asians perform better in engineering), the NASA until 2003...and many more. Fashion industry racism does not kill, literally, but Army Corp and NASA racism did..literally...more than 10,000 people of all colors were killed due to breaches in the levy and poor workmanship and design in New Orleans after Katrina..had the levees held, the death toll would have been around 2,000! Space Shuttle Columbia went down because the engineers in NASA did not understand a simple problem..about a foam hitting the wing at 500 miles an hour! Since, 2003, NASA has become heavily Asian engineers and the Army Corp...well it is an employment program for folks who cannot get jobs elsewhere or too many better qualified foreigners taking jobs in the Universities and the private sector!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Guess you have not lived as an Indian in South Africa.

    haven't. south africa is south africa. the sins of the mother don't redound to the daughters. your prejudice may be rooted in rational response to bigotry. it's your business. just want to enter into the record that i'm not down with expressions of prejudice in such a fashion no matter the matter, and, no matter whether the prejudice is rooted in a rational basis (i.e., attracks/bigotry from group X).

    ReplyDelete
  5. "the sins of the mother don't redound to the daughters."

    Unless the daughters (and sons) themselves sin, which they do! If you can read Dutch try going to the Afrikaans Chicks or Afrikaans Guys website..and read what these women have to say about Asian (East of South) women going out with white men!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You dumbsh/t, Indians hate white skin, and so do East Asians and Africans also, in India, not one actor or actress is hired from any white nations, they use the people there, which means they like the Persian bronze look more.

      Delete
  6. I had no idea they advertise to men as well. I wonder if they do that in Indonesia too?

    ReplyDelete
  7. @ fromthetropics:
    welcome back. I doubt that they do advertise to men in Indonesia. The obsession with pale skin is not quite at the same level as it is in India.

    ReplyDelete
  8. awwwrrr. thanks for the welcome. i'm back in Jakarta for a visit and was wondering what you're up to these days. hence my visit back :) (though i visit your site from time to time without commenting too, so i'm still here!)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Razib: Said the coconut

    Your boner for white men is showing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not one bollywood actor or actress is pale skin, they're all Pakistani looking, so this shows that Indians like Pakistanis more than white people.

      Delete
  10. I hope these bastards (the fair and lovely actors) die of cancer cream poisoning.

    BTW it's not only skin creams but also promoting white mentality in India as the 'right' mentality (sound familiar?)

    ReplyDelete
  11. @ Anonymous:
    Hoping that people die, and accusing those with a different view to you of being coconuts with boners for white people, is for angry teenagers. Chill out a bit, friend.

    ReplyDelete
  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I don't understand what's so wrong about it when it comes to fashion industry? Every country/culture has their definitions of beauty. Haven't you heard of the saying tall, dark and handsome? Isn't that prejudiced against the short pale guy? Of course it is. However, I would say it's fair because different cultures have different measures of beauty. Some places in Africa like fat women and dislike slender and skinny women. So why the big fuss about Indians liking white skin. It's their right to have preferences when it comes to beauty. However, choosing people for jobs outside of fashion industry based on beauty is wrong obviously. However, this happens even in European countries. Ex: you would mostly see good looking girls at receptionist jobs.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Simran: I'll bet that as Indians go, you have pale skin.

      I agree that the fashion and entertainment industry is superficial and discriminates against lots of people for various aesthetic reasons.
      I think India is problematic in a way that goes beyond that though. Here's why.
      The preference for paleness is completely out of step with the reality of what the vast majority of Indians actually look like. It leads to a huge proportion of the nation having a complex about colour.
      The fact that Fair and Lovely and other brands are so successful tells the tale of a nation that has a low self-esteem, and in which being dark is a handicap to achievement in many ways.
      It also entrenches a system in which upper castes and people from North India have a certain level of dominance over the darker people of lower caste and from the South.

      Delete
    2. What a sh/tty article assfart, most Indians hate the pale look, they want to look like north indian punjabis.

      Delete
    3. No Indian likes white skin, if that was the case, they would stick their faces in some glue, they like Punjabi skin mostly.

      Delete
  14. 95% Of Bollywood and Indian serials actors are from punjab and are punjabi cute boys.
    Punjabis are olive colored indio-persian, indio-aryan, indo-syrian they migrated hundred years ago so they looks diffrent from other indians as brahmins from dalits & south indians. Dutch also ruled North india in 16th century and Mugals.
    but mainly are syrian and persian who converted their religion to sikhism to fight against muslims who rapes their sisters, mothers unnecessarily.
    hindi language is also originated from mixing of iranic, persian languages.
    but other than north indians mainly south indians are real or pure indians where only britishers ruled so they are looks like darkest people of India and they are so white obessed by britishers dat's why in south white or olive color skin is considered as beautiful over brown or black skin.
    but punjabis and pakis are naturally light olive skin color.
    Britishers was also says that punjabis, kashmiris, tibetis (Now in china), Brahamins looks diffrent from indian races as it compromise of only 15% of population that's why indian race is dark brown or black even more than africans charcoal black in south india.
    think dat if britishers was not leave india 1947 then they will definately considered as light skinned and tallest people of india in future like now punjabis.
    as punjabis are tallest and strongest people of india avg. male height is 5'11".
    if u have any doubt about indian actors come in punjab or kashmir ur doubt automatically solved.
    Google search of only some not all punjabi actors :
    1. *Jimmy Shergill
    2. Ranbir Kapoor
    3. Shiney Ahuja
    4. Akshay Kumar
    5. Arjun Rampal
    6. Vivek Oberoi
    7. Salman khan
    8. *Jugal Hansraj
    9. Gippy Grewal
    10. Kunal Kapoor
    11. Yuvraj singh (cricketer)
    12. Sahid kapoor
    13. Sidhart Mohallotra
    10000. etc
    and u can man historic books about punjabi race.
    Proud to be Indian.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i have seen black punjab and fair tamilians. So dont judge based on your experience only. I am orissa. My mom is dark and father was blue eyed man. so I become fair too. all our family is rain bow family with different colourtone. i would say we should be proud to be indian that all have so many colours of skin and hair and eye colours. In my opinion any skin if it is healthy and blemish free look good to me.

      Delete
  15. fuk me those ads make being dark skinned look like an illness.

    ReplyDelete
  16. In my opinion skin colour itself has no link to beauty. People should just accept what they have. I think, being half Indian, that in arranged marriages, light skin colour is a trait often looked for and women especially are defined as beautiful purely for their light skin colour- I think this is so wrong! I have an Indian cousin who told me her boyfriend's mom didn't want them to get married because she had darkish brown skin! I think this issue has become ingrained in many Indian mindsets and needs to change. India seems like a divided country between different states- it needs to become just one India! One love!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Actually even actors from North India are still dark compared to a average european, they are only one shade lighter than a South Indian, and they still have brown or dark brown skin. The only difference is that these actors/actresses travel outside of
    india to get their skin bleaching treatments then the rest of it is lighting and make up just google (bollywood actors without make up) they are actually quite dark

    ReplyDelete
  18. Ugh, I don't know why Indians want to be light like that. They just look like a bunch of corpses. It's gross.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree completely.I used to like the beautiful glow on Freida Pinto, Bipasha Basu, Deepika Padukone and kajol and others who were promoted as "dusky" beauties. Now they are all several shades lighter and they are still called "dusky"! Its ridiculous. Bipasha especially disappointed me. She looked so confident and sexy before she lightened her skin.

      Delete
    2. What a retard, not one Indian actress is pale looking, they're all North Indians who look Pakistani, most Indians want to look like Pakistanis in reality.

      Delete
  19. Thanks for the blog post, I watched a bollywood film today and couldn't understand why the actors had coloured contacts in and such intensely pale thick makeup.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Saying "Indian actors & actresses don't look Indian" is ignorant and racist in its own right. When people say that they are saying these actors & actresses are too attractive to be Indian and it's just a way for them to put Indians down. These people have not seen every Indian in the world to make such a generalized, close minded comment like that. India is a diverse country, its only 2nd to Africa in it's genetic, cultural, and linguistic diversity. Its located in Asia, but it doesn't have a homogeneous population like other Asian countries like China, Japan, or Korea and people should know that. Yes, there is a typical Indian look that most people associate Indians with & many Indians will fall into that category, but don't be surprised if they don't. If there's Kal Penn and Mindy Kaling there's also Noureen Dewulf & Aishwarya Rai. Just be a little more open minded that's all.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I think this is an excellent blog about exploitation and depiction of brown people on film and television.

    Brown people need to be ethical being Bollywood's production or BBC affiliate Pakistani television shows when presenting bleach cream commercials. Also, unrealistic fight and dance scenes making brown men seem gay needs to end.

    Also, you know what they can do with their accents, they are better off not even speaking one word of English in their dialect, it make them seem inferior to whites.

    As per you homo actors and fake actresses that happily take these roles gay directors/producers that deny dark skin girls, and btch producers that misrepresent true reality will all slowly lose your market to the majority that grows a conscious with new wave of film makers and television owners.

    ReplyDelete
  22. that's the thing, no one realizes we are sick of patriotism, we are first generations of some western country but we are brown people not only from India but from all over and most of your kids will also say not to Bollywood so we need to have our own films here. -Per/desi

    ReplyDelete
  23. I live in the US and always found it strange that Indians I meet on a day to day basis are brown, but those I see in Indian media look white. I was watching Anger Management the other day and that Noureen actress made some comment about being Indian. I had no idea she was Indian and my first though was, why do they have a non-Indian girl playing an Indian??? She's the first fair skinned Indian I've seen on American TV. Granted, all hues and variations should be embraced. It just stinks a bit to see Indian media go out of its way not to represent the masses. I get it though. Heck, its only been recent times that American TV has embraced showing big people on TV. The average American woman's size is probably a 8/10 but you'd think it was a 2 going by TV.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Indians are not a RACE. THEY ARE A NATIONALITY. There are MORE THAN 2000 DIFFERENT ETHNIC GROUPS IN INDIA -- IT IS THE MOST DIVERSE COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. People who think that Indians are supposed to "look like" a certain color or person are RETARDED (like the one above me). Mindy Kaling is just ONE TYPE of Indian that IS OVERREPRESENTED in the American media as the INDIAN DIASPORA in the US is FLOODED WITH SOUTH INDIANS AND LOWER CASTE INDIANS WHO ARE NOT CAUCASIAN LIKE NOUREEN DE WULF.

    AND Noureen DeWulf is fair? Bullshit. My sister is lighter than her and people think she is Armenian or Italian. That is the average color of a North Indian Aryan Upper caste Individual who is female. My complexion is like George Clooney when he was young -- or like Jimmy Kimmel right now, and I am a man. And there are people, both men and women who are MUCH lighter than me in Northern India -- and to say that while they might exist, they are very small in number is DUMB -- because as I mentioned, INDIAN is NOT A RACE -- it is a NATIONALITY -- so just like not everyone in the United States is black, but there are still millions of black people who belong to their own ethnic group, there are more than a hundred million people in India who belong to the Indo-Aryan ethnic group and are CAUCASIAN -- just like Europeans, or Middle Easterners or North Africans -- and they have the entire range of skin tone. We dont care if the average Indian is darker or looks different -- BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT FROM OUR RACE --there are even people in India who look Chinese in Assam -- but we don't care about their appearance because they are of a different race entirely. In the same way, South Indians and darker Indians who are low caste, are not just dark, they are an ENTIRELY different race altogether. Our average complexion is olive, but we can be as light as Pinkish-white, like this woman: http://indianramp.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Kashmiri-Style-Dress_@IndianRamp.com_.jpg

    We don't discriminate based on skin color in India -- we discriminate based on race -- just like in the U.S. To give you an example, both Prince Harry and Ray Romano would be treated as a Caucasian and/or white in the United States -- even though one is MUCH darker than the other and looks VERY different -- but Ray Romano and Prince Harry would be treated MUCH differently than a light-skinned mixed black man -- because, despite his skin color, he is NOT CAUCASIAN -- he is a different race entirely. So in India, the caste system is not based on color -- it is based on RACE -- my dad for instance is the same color as Ray romano -- but that doesn't make him any less Caucasian than me even though I have the complexion of Jimmy Kimmel. You get the point.

    And don't tell me that lighter is always better, because if you are as light as an Irish person you are UGLY and not only that, you have DEFECTIVE skin prone to skin cancer. Fitzpatrick 2, 3, and 4 are the best shades -- and those are the shades that are found in Upper Caste Aryans in North India -- and they are also found all over the world -- from Europe to the Middle East to North Africa to South Asia (including Iran and India) to even Latin America and SouthEast Asia. Indians are not alone in their coloring at all. Therefore, people cannot discriminate against Upper Caste North Indians or Pakistanis or Nepalis or Iranians based on color or looks or race -- since they are all completely Caucasian. Of this, there is no doubt.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Motherfucker North indians are inferior to south indians. Aiswarya rai, Deepika padukone, shamatha anchan, asin all are pure south Indians with very fair skin that is not seen in majority of north Indians. North India is more poor than Africa. You people are slum dwellers, poor, filthy brown skinned and you have an inferiority complex build into your minds. All non Indians search on google about the poverty of north India. Most of north Indian actors like shahrukh khan, yo yo honey singh, Kajol are very dark in colour.
      Majority of North Indians are very brown in colour including high caste people. They are far away from caucasain. I havent seen any Indian with blue eyes and blonde hair. That is one of the basic features of caucasian people. You can see both fair and dark people in North as well as South India. But calling south indians dark while you people are more darker than us means funny, very very funny.

      Delete
  25. Motherfucker North indians are inferior to south indians. Aiswarya rai, Deepika padukone, shamatha anchan, asin all are pure south Indians with very fair skin that is not seen in majority of north Indians. North India is more poor than Africa. You people are slum dwellers, poor, filthy brown skinned and you have an inferiority complex build into your minds. All non Indians search on google about the poverty of north India. Most of north Indian actors like shahrukh khan, Arjun rampal, yo yo honey singh, Kajol are very dark in colour.
    Majority of North Indians are very brown in colour including high caste people. They are far away from caucasain. I havent seen any Indian with blue eyes and blonde hair. That is one of the basic features of caucasian people. You can see both fair and dark people in North as well as South India. But calling south indians dark while you people are more darker than us means funny, very very funny.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually Aishwariya Rai is from the bunt caste who are immigrants to South india, most the women you named are north Indian in origin also.

      Delete
  26. Passion is the difference between a job and a career. Let your passion flow freely with Indians Models Club.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Modelling is a good way for promete, display, or advertise commercial products. there are several types of modelling fashion, glamour, fitness, bikini,body-part and commercial print models.there are Top 10 Male Indian Models.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Trekking in Nepal and tours Operators takes you that further way to guarantee for Treks Himalaya that you has an unforgettable Trek in Nepal that you have been dream with Acute trek is part of your choice for Nepal Tours. We have your choose of Nepal Trekking for 3 days to 30 or more days it depending of your timetable, sleep under lodges or tent. We always respect our duty to constantly your Nepal Holidays satisfaction. Whether you are looking for gateway Travel in Nepal, a memorable Hiking in Nepal outing with a family or an exciting nature Tours in Nepal with Acute Trek Pvt. Ltd. We offer you with the best progressive information during your Nepal Travel and itinerary leading focused in Tours Trekking in Nepal and modified as per your requirements of Holidays in Nepal. It is significant Treks Himalaya to memorize, though, it necessitate an enough level of physical homework and must remembers that there is also a psychosomatic assurance walking and Trekking in Himalaya. Acute trek is an attempt to encourage Adventure Trekking in Nepal to the exterior world while striving to defend an aged tradition as well as Nepal Tours conserve the surroundings for generation to come Tours Trekking in Nepal. We are specialize in organize Nepal travel activities excursion such as:- Trekking, Helicopter Tour, Peak Climbing, Mountain Flight, Honeymoon Tour, Sightseeing, Rafting, Jungle Safari, Pilgrim’s Tour, Hotel Reservation, Air Ticket, Tibet and Bhutan Tour many more.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Such a great information on ujjain city and temples. Also helpful to search and full details on kumbh mela ujjain. Thanks for it...

    ReplyDelete
  30. if you want to change your life, then do hard work,follow my timeline and like this page,the page name is "ActorManie".follow my timeline
    hi friends like this page https://www.facebook.com/ActorManie
    #ActorManie

    ReplyDelete