Soapbox Issues

Want what you can’t have

So summer has officially begun.

It means beach time for some (to get away from the heat) and tan time for others.

I recently had a conversation with a colleague (And have had several similar ones with other people in the past) about tanning. This colleague of mine was supposed to be going to a wedding. She is very pale and so she decided she was going to a tanning salon to get a spray-on tan which would last a week but she would supposedly then be as dark as I am (and mind you, I’m dark — not one of the wheatish Indians — and Australia has only made me darker). So anyway, then I got in to the whole story of how back in India, they prefer it if you’re fair-skinned (a look at the matrimonial ads and ads for Fair and Lovely will tell you that) and how I find it funny that here, where most people are generally fair-skinned, they’ll go through lengths to get dark.

Just as an example, I have had relatives back home worry about how dark I am (in comparison to my sister and dad) but out here, I have had some Canadians, Australians etc envy how I tan so quickly in spite of already having apparently a great skin colour. The grass is always greener on the other side, eh?

I just remembered — back in 2002-2003, there was this advertisement for a cream called ‘Fair and Lovely’ (or was it Fairever?). This dark-skinned girl gets turned down at a job interview because she is dark-skinned. Then she applied the cream and lo and behold! In a few weeks, she is fair-skinned. And of course, she gets the job because the interviewer is now stunned by her beauty! (P.S. I could dedicate a whole other post on how Indians can sometimes discriminate based on colour)

It makes me wonder why though — I mean, why is it that Anglo-Saxon individuals, as a generalisation, prefer to have darker coloured skin and why do Indians prefer to have whiter skin?? I am not sure if Africans feel the same way as Indians do (I doubt it!) and I think we’ve seen fair-skinned Asians carry around umbrellas in the heat in order to prevent freckles and tans (Again, as a generalisation)

As human beings, I think in some weird way, we are all susceptible to wanting what we cannot have. We prefer what other people seem to have. And then, we try to attain the same despite possible dangers in some cases (as in skin cancer and tanning) or we end up not attaining this and get depressed.

If only more of us could be happy with what we already had or achieved.

Is there anything you would like? Do you compare yourself with others? Do share.

I know I do.

Until next time,


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  • Orhan Kahn
    6 December 2008 at 9:52 am

    I recently shaved my torso and discovered I’m whiter than any one of my white friends. If I suddenly lost my hair I would take the chances with the sun, no doubt 🙂