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Vena Ramphal

Celebrity relationship coach based in the UK. In 2017 her award winning TV sex education show put Vena at the forefront of the movement to improve access to information about pleasure, bodies, emotional connection and physical intimacy. She is known for making conversations about sex soulful, intelligent and uplifting. A yogini and classical Indian dancer, Vena brings you light, delight and fun through her weekly column.

#AskVena: People Find Me Unattractive Because I Am Dark, Help Me Lighten My Skin Tone

  • IWB Post
  •  June 15, 2018

One question I get asked repeatedly by women in India is, “How do I lighten my skin?” I remember coming across this prejudice against darker skin tones when I first lived in Chennai – Madras as it then was. That was in 1991. I was shocked to discover that there was a socially accepted trend of favouring lighter skin tones. There was even a cream on the market called “Fair and Lovely” that was meant to help lighten skin.

Fast forward to 2018. I see that women are still burdened with this prejudice. I’ve not heard a man ask about this, but maybe they have the same question. It’s a prejudice I’m keen to break. Love your natural skin tone! Every shade of skin is gorgeous.

Rita told me that she wanted a natural remedy to lighten her skin. I asked her why. She said that lighter skin is more beautiful and she didn’t feel attractive. She wanted to be pretty. She also mentioned that her sister was lighter than her and that made her feel worse. People were always comparing them.

I could see her pain. A woman not at ease in her body is a woman robbed of her natural ease, power, skill, capability, joy, and all-around good vibes.

Please, please stop wishing your skin tone away. You’re wishing away your sense of self and self-respect. You’re giving your body a damaging message.

I asked Rita to tell me five things she liked about her body. She squirmed at first. ‘No, but my skin is just too dark.’ I asked again – ‘Tell me five things you like about your body.’

‘Well, my hair is nice. And my shape is okay.”

“Rita, repeat after me. My hair is gorgeous. I love the shape of my body.”

She started laughing. “I can’t say that.” But eventually, she did. At first, she whispered it to herself, shyly, under her breath. Then she was able to look me in the eye and say it quietly. And finally she stood up, spine erect and head held high, and spoke her beauty with confidence.

Hair. Shape. Wrists. Eyes. Toes. This was Rita’s list of five.

And we added one more – her skin tone. Her beautiful, deep, dark, skin tone.

It would take her time to fully accept that one, but she was on her way.

“I love my skin”. If you’re prejudiced against your own skin tone, make this your mantra. Approach it softly to start with, because you won’t believe it and you’ll automatically resist it. But keep going. Think it to yourself whenever you catch yourself wishing your skin was lighter. Then start repeating it to yourself as you dry your body after a shower. And then, say it out loud to others, especially when they have the nerve to suggest your skin is anything less than beautiful.

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