If Barbie were a real person she would face-plant from uneven sizing between her mammoth-sized breasts and her disproportionately small, infant feet. What is more, if Barbie were real I would be able to see my reflection in her perfectly golden skin.
My whole life, Barbie has been my physical expectation, so I grew up and discovered a place called Rockstar Tan Bar, which offers $10 spray tans after 10 p.m.
So what if the expectation was different? What if Barbie was originally given a paler complexion, and every advertisement and celebrity was expected to replicate that color?
In this week’s Purple Skirt, I explored the grass on “the other side of the fence” to see what it would be like if Western society told us to protect our skin instead of fry and dry it.
“My Purple Skirt is this pendant I wear every day,” said Anusha Sekar, first-year graduate student in computer science, holding the golden necklace around her neck. Ganesha, the Hindu god of prosperity, brilliance and power dangles from it. “It gives me strength and confidence and makes me feel like I can do anything and everything.”
Sekar grew up in Bangalore, India, where society’s expectation is the opposite of western society: Having a fair complexion is more desirable.
“About 10 years ago a product called ‘Fair and Lovely’ came out,” Sekar said.
The product is a cream that lightens your skin.
Their largest demographic is college-age women, though they have recently reached younger girls and men, she said.
Last summer I had the privilege of visiting the city of Bangalore, as well as a few other beautiful cities in southern India. I noticed that in many of the advertisements, and all over the media, were people with a very fair complexion, even though the obvious majority of the city were people with a darker complexion.
“There has been a lot of Western influence in the media over the past couple of years,"Sekar said in response to this observation, a response that sounded a bit familiar."That’s why these advertisements publicize their products, because it helps them become more like the west.”
How much different are the sunless tanner advertisements we read in Glamour magazine? Don’t be ashamed reader, I’m admitting to buying into them.
Not that I religiously get my skin painted, but places like my favorite tan bar make my week look a little bit better. The reality is, we all want to look like each other.
“During my school days, even I was lured in by'Fair and Lovely'because famous people use it,” said Sekar.
There you have it folks, the grass on the other side, exposed.
Finally I asked Sekar how Fair and Lovely has affected her now.
Her response was simple: “Now that I am older? I am totally confident in my own skin.”