Unfair if you're un-fair

Unfair if you're un-fair

Looking to find a husband, make friends, and get ahead at work?

Then you need to have lighter skin. That's the allpervasive message in India, and it's something that one actress is fighting to overturn.

The new poster girl of the "Dark is Beautiful" campaign, Ms Nandita Das, has called out India's obsession with fair skin - a prejudice she says has driven some young women to the brink of suicide.

"Magazines, TV, cinema - everywhere being fair is synonymous with being beautiful," Ms Das said.

Described as having "dusky" skin as opposed to a fair complexion, the 43-year-old is well used to Indian preoccupations with colour, and not just in the film industry, where she has refused requests to lighten her skin for roles.

CONFIDENT

"How can you be so confident despite being so dark?" is a question regularly asked of Ms Das, who has preferred to star in unconventional, issue-based films but says she would struggle to get ahead in mainstream Bollywood movies.

In May, Ms Das became the face of the Dark is Beautiful campaign, launched in 2009 by activist group Women of Worth to celebrate "beauty beyond colour".

Her backing has helped to generate increasing debate in the media, but the response has underlined just how ingrained the preference is for fairer skin, which has long been associated with higher social classes and castes.

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